3 metaphors for prenups that may make them easier to talk about

The word “prenup” carries an unbelievable amount of weight. The Journal of Family and Economic Issues investigated how people make sense of prenups—by looking at them through the lens of metaphor. Here are our favorite ones and why we love them.

Prenups haven’t exactly done a good job of branding themselves. Although only six letters, the word “prenup” carries an unbelievable amount of weight—and the mere suggestion of one can come off as intimidating, threatening, and of course, oh-so-legal-sounding.

The Journal of Family and Economic Issues took note of this, and conducted a study that investigated how people on Reddit make sense of prenups—by looking at them through the lens of metaphor.

We thought this was pretty genius, and a really great tool for not only understanding prenups better yourself, but for helping your future spouse understand why a prenup could be right for you. Here are our favorite three metaphors and why we love them.

Metaphor #1: Prenups are marriage insurance

Prenups help you prepare for the worst, even if you don’t think you’ll need it. One commenter noted, “Nobody plans on crashing their car, getting cancer, or having their house burn down but they still get car, health, and home insurance.” We couldn’t agree more: prenups help you feel covered in the case of a worst-case scenario, but similar to all of your other kinds of insurance—home, car, health, and so on—you never truly anticipate actually needing them.

Metaphor #2: A prenup is like having world-class safety features for your car

With the right prenup, your marriage will be so protected, it might as well be nominated for a J.D. Power award. Here’s how one Reddit commenter described it: “Getting a car with airbags does not mean you don’t also make sure you have good brakes and tires. Smart people do all the above; only crazy people say if you get airbags you’re jinxing it or are not committed to making things work.” A little bit of a mouthful, but we agree with the sentiment. And it really fits with the classic “Just Married” getaway car moment.

Metaphor #3: A prenup is the merging of two companies

This metaphor is a little more business oriented, but for some people, it can be empowering to think of each person as a “business,” and for a marriage to represent two businesses joining forces. After all, “two companies wouldn’t merge without clearly defined expectations on every aspect of operations,” one commenter pointed out. It’s probably the least romantic of these metaphors, but it does help make sense of what you’re getting into with a marriage, from a technical point of view. And hey, it could be kind of fun to think about your roles in your new joint company: if someone is particularly in tune with finances, could they be “CFO”? If someone is more in tune with running the household, could they be “COO”? On second thought, maybe this is a fun metaphor.

Whichever of these metaphors resonates with you, embrace it, because prenups can be complicated and hard to fully grasp sometimes. The more you can understand about them, the easier it will be to discuss with your future spouse, and the better off your marriage will be.