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4 Reasons to Get a Prenup! [w/ music video to boot]

by J. Money on Monday, November 28, 2011

get a prenup

(Guest Post by Kevin McKee – a friend, and dope blogger)

In the next twelve months, I will be attending at least three weddings. Some of my closest friends and family members will be tying the knot soon, and I have a little premarital advice for all of them.

Get a prenup!

This advice may sound shallow, heartless, or just plain chauvinistic. And you’d be right if the prenup said, “In the event of a divorce, the husband keeps all shared marital assets and the wife assumes all shared marital debt. And she has to bake him cookies once a week. Forever.”

However, there are some very good reasons to get a prenuptial agreement that are helpful not only in the event of a divorce, but also in the event of the untimely and unfortunate death of a spouse.

In fact, I feel so strongly about the need for a prenup that I wrote a song about it:

Situations Where You Probably Need a Prenup

In describing these situations, I’m going to use generic names Jedediah for the husband (because I assume this is J Money’s real name) and Kim for the wife (because Kim and Jedediah sounds like a funny couple).

One Person Has Lots of Debt – Let’s pretend Jedediah racked up $50,000 in credit card debt before the marriage on expensive vacations, gourmet meals and a few ponies. Kim had no debt entering the marriage. The two marry, combine their finances, and start paying down the $50k of debt. A few years later, Jedediah unfortunately passes away. Depending on state law, Kim might be stuck paying off Jedidiah’s debt even after he’s gone because it became a shared marital debt. However, a prenup can clearly state who owns preexisting debt and ensure a widow isn’t saddled with her deceased husband’s debt. Even in divorce, Kim might get stuck with some of the debt; it just depends on state law and the judge if they don’t have a prenup.

At Least One Person Owns a Business – Let’s pretend Jedediah has a small business; maybe it’s a highly entertaining personal finance blog. Jedediah does most or all of the work on the business, but all money earned from that business is shared by him and his wife. Now let’s pretend these two get a divorce. Does Jedediah keep the small business, or does Kim have a right to some ownership? I honestly don’t know the answer; it all depends on state laws and who has the best attorney. These are the kinds of questions that can get really ugly when a couple splits and doesn’t have a prenup. I think it’s better to make this kind of decision while you are still on civil speaking terms with your significant other, as opposed to figuring it out during a nasty divorce.

At Least One Person Has a Valuable Family Heirloom – What if Kim has her great great great grandma’s dresser, which was valued at $30,000 on Antique Road Show? That’s not something she wants to fight Jedediah over in a divorce, and it’s probably something she wants to give to her sister or daughter or niece if she were to pass away unexpectedly. Without a prenup, Jedediah could sell that thing to the highest bidder and use that money to buy a trophy wife.

At Least One Person has a Significantly Large Net Worth – This one is pretty simple. If Jedediah has a bunch of money and/or assets, he might not want that stuff to become “shared marital assets”. Maybe he is happy to share his wealth as long as they are together. If that’s forever, great! If not and they do split up, Kim doesn’t get a piece of it. Again, I have no idea where the money would go in an actual divorce because I’m not a legal expert and I don’t know your state laws. And my guess is you won’t know where it will go either unless it is specified in a prenup.

Situations Where You Might Not Need a Prenup

As much as I love prenups, they aren’t for everyone. Here are a few reasons why you might not need a prenup before you get married.

  • Neither person enters into the marriage with significant debt that should be separated to ensure a widow isn’t stuck paying off massive amounts of it.
  • You have complete and absolute trust in your significant other to be fair and reasonable in the event of a divorce. (Tip: ask your friends if you think he or she would be fair and reasonable)
  • Both the bride and groom are well aware of their state divorce laws and agree with all of them.
  • You are on a very strict wedding budget, and you only have $700 to spend on either a prenup or an open bar at the reception. J Money might not show up if you don’t have an open bar! [TRUE FACT]

So unless you fall into one or more of these categories, then as I say in my music video, “You gotta get a prenup!”

If you’re single, would you get a prenup if you get married? If you’re married, do you have a prenup? Am I a jerk for even suggesting prenups? Why or why not?

————-
Guest post by Kevin McKee at Thousandaire, where personal finance and music videos come together. You can also find him on Twitter @kevin_is_money.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  To answer your question, the wifey & I didn’t even think of it.  Like, I don’t think it was ever brought up or even considered at all – not sure if that’s good or bad?  Though we both went into it w/ no debt and not a lot of assets either… I feel like you’d have to have HUGE balls to bring it up to your fiance like that – I don’t think I could do it even if I really wanted to ;)


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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chris C November 28, 2011 at 8:44 am

I absolutely would get a prenup. My thoughts on them are if you truely love someone forever then prenups don’t matter. If the marriage goes sour then both people are protected.

In my case I have a somewhat high student loan debt load (and soon to be increasing) and would not like to pass that on to anyone should the unfortuanate happen.

I love this song!! Heard it a couple months ago and am thrilled to see it again, good work Kevin.

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2 cashflowmantra November 28, 2011 at 9:04 am

Didn’t get one back in 1989 when I got married. Neither of us had anything. Now, if a second marriage is involved with kids from the first, I think it is important.

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3 Daisy November 28, 2011 at 9:08 am

Prenups are great ideas. My dad and his wife got married and signed one, because she had millions of dollars worth of property that he had no part of. When they split up, there was no fighting over assets. It makes for a cleaner break!

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4 Corey @ 20's Finances November 28, 2011 at 9:32 am

This film is soooo catchy… Now it is going to be stuck in my head again. *sigh* Keep making the videos, Kevin!

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5 Stephanie November 28, 2011 at 9:34 am

I didn’t see the point of a prenup when I got married, and not just because I trust my husband and we are in this thing til the end! We got married when I was 23 and he was 22… I was just starting grad school and he was finishing his last year of undergrad. Neither of us had significant assets and we both knew we’d have to start paying back some student loans soon, neither of which are for particularly large amounts.

Pretty much all the money we’ve saved and any of the debt we’ve taken on (student loans and a mortgage, thankfully no credit card debt!) was after we got married, so a prenup wouldn’t have impacted us in any way. It would probably have cost more just to get a prenup than any assets we were trying to protect would even be worth. :-P

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6 Tim November 28, 2011 at 9:38 am

I think if you aren’t really owners of debt or significant assets or future assets then it isn’t necessary . If you have either of those it is something you should consider.

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7 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com November 28, 2011 at 9:53 am

@Chris C – I can’t believe you “love” the song. Even my girlfriend won’t commit to loving it!
@cashflowmantra – I think basically 100% of second marriages should have prenups. My grandpa is currently getting screwed in one of those situations.
@Daisy – Sorry to hear about the split up, but at least it wasn’t drawn out with lots of fighting.
@Corey – That’s the point! Hopefully you’ll be singing it out loud to everyone around you :)
@Stephanie – It sounds like you were right in not getting one. There are definitely situations where they aren’t necessary, and yours looks like one of them
@Tim – Exactly. Without debt or assets, a prenup can’t really do much because it only affects premarital things. If you don’t have premarital assets or debts, it won’t do any good.

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8 Sarah November 28, 2011 at 11:39 am

Oh, JMoney and Kevin, everyone should definitely get a prenup!
I’m single, believe marriage is forever, and would not enter into one if there was even the slightest possibility of divorce.
But, to protect my assets (I’m 28, own my home valued at $250k, salary around $100k, net worth in excess of $150k), I would get a prenup. Especially if he has a lot of debt. I wouldn’t want my assets to be in jeporady if some creditor came-a-calling.
Plus, everyone did whatever before they entered into the marriage, based on their single-life goals. These goals will change when you get married. You should be entitled to keep what you have before you enter into the union.
I could go on and on, because I’m such a believer in prenup’s, but I’ll stop now.
Bottom line, get a prenup, or at least explore the possibility. It could save you in the end.

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9 Jen @ Master the Art of Saving November 28, 2011 at 11:43 am

Haha. Kevin is so funny. We didn’t do a prenup, but I don’t think we needed one from a financial standpoint either (not much debt and barely any assets). If my honey would have asked me to sign one, after laughing my ass off (because he had nothing but debt), I would have done it. We’d already been together for 8 years before we got married, so I kinda knew how things would turn out for us.

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10 LB November 28, 2011 at 11:49 am

If I was getting remarried I would get a prenuptial agreement definitely, but that would be to save me and mine.

I didn’t need one when I got married, unless we were going to try and predict future events that had nothing to do with money or assets. Has anyone seen some of the prenups with stipulations you must get gas at x gas station no matter what, and cook meals 7 days a week? Yuck no thanks. I had no real assets, no debt and nothing of importance really.

I have to say there is one wedding I will attending this year, and I hope they don’t get a prenup. I would love to see them have to split the family business. But alas it is in a backwards state and the woman will probably get crap. I wish I could talk her out of getting married at 19 :(

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11 Brad Moore November 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Here’s a stat I would like to see: For couples who have the prenup thing, is there a greater likelihood of divorce? My guess is the answer is yes.

Anyone know any stats on that?

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12 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com November 28, 2011 at 1:26 pm

@Sarah – Holey buckets! I wish I can match your assets and income when I’m 28 (2 years from now). With that kind of money, getting a prenup is an easy decision.
@Jen – I’m glad the idea of a prenup doesn’t offend you. I don’t really understand why people are offended by it personally.
@LB – That sounds like a bad situation for your friend. I think anyone getting married at 19, prenup or not, is very dangerous. I was just a kid at 19. Heck, I’m still just a kid at 26.
@Brad – I don’t know the stats, but I also wonder the stats on number of couples who are still together even though they hate each other, just because they don’t want to deal with the financial repercussions of a divorce. That’d be an important statistic as well.

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13 Bekki November 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Prenups are definitely something that have always made me say “ick!!” That is, until my mother-in-law passed away and a gold-digging witch got her claws into my father-in-law and convinced him to marry her a couple years later. My husband and his father own a successful business together that the new wife has no part of. We begged him to get her to sign a prenup, but he refused. The best he would do for us is a will.

Fingers crossed that they never split up, and that my father-in-law lives for a VERY long time, since the new wife is 10 years younger than him as it is. =\

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14 Rich Uncle El November 28, 2011 at 2:57 pm

I agree with this post, financially speaking it is genius because if things go downhill nobody can argue with the financial aspects of the divorce. It would make perfect sense if both parties agreed on getting one. I am a believer in prenups and I hope my girlfiiend is too.

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15 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager November 28, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Love that the Hoff got a cameo in this music video. Thanks Kevin!

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16 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com November 28, 2011 at 6:09 pm

@Bekki – I’m sorry to hear about your father in law. Make sure you get him on an exercise program and healthy diet!
@Rich Uncle El – That’s my problem. My girlfriend isn’t a believer right now. If we do decide to get married, we’ll have to have a big discussion about it.
@Jenna – The Hoff is my nickname for a German friend of mine who was recently engaged. His engagement was the inspiration for the song, so I figured I should honor him somehow. I think the cameo was successful. :)

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17 J. Money November 28, 2011 at 6:16 pm

YEAH!!! I’d like to see the stats on both of those too! (The likelihood of divorce for those who DO sign a prenup, as well as the % of those who stick together even though they hate each other and DIDN’T sign prenups :)) Would be interesting! And THANKS for guest posting Kevin — really really appreciate it. And for all the responses too, very helpful :)

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18 Bill at FamZoo November 28, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Thanks for the chuckle – great video. Was curious to see how you were going to kiss yourself in that one scene, but glad you covered the camera just in case you were able to pull it off.

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19 Jessica November 28, 2011 at 8:57 pm

I’m part of the “prenupitals give me the creeps” crowd. I am not sure of the statistics but having the divorce already planned cant possibly speak well to a long lasting marriage in my head. My husband and I had a really serious discussion about finances before we got married though complete with bank statements and credit reports so we both knew where we were. While we aren’t wealthy, I have a significant inheritance that I will receive but wouldn’t dream of not including it in our household finances. I just think that prenups create a me vs my spouse that doesn’t look at marriage as the combining of two lives.

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20 Well Heeled Blog November 28, 2011 at 10:03 pm

I actually just wrote a post on my thought process on the question: do we need a prenup?. And my answer, which would have truly shocked the 20-year-old me, was *no*. I don’t think our assets are at a point where we need to have a prenup, I agree that assets acquired during marriage should be 50/50, and I know that any inheritance (which is what I would be concerned about as that would be my parents’ hard work and legacy) would be considered separate and not community property. A prenup can cost a few thousand dollars, so be sure to take that into account as well.

If you ARE going to do a prenup, for goodness sakes do it right. Talk about it. Lay everything on the table. Discuss your expectations. None of this scribble-on-a-napkin or heres-a-prenup-a-week-before-the-wedding type of deals. Because, 1. the courts won’t uphold it. 2. your spouse will think you are a jerk (and you will be).

Lastly, I encourage people to think about how their partners would act as ex-spouses. Would they be GOOD ex-spouses? Meaning, would they be financially independent? Would they try to be fair and honorable? Would they try to move beyond the hurt and do what’s best for the kids if you have kids? I think the answer to those questions have everything to do with the type of people they are.

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21 Angella November 29, 2011 at 12:42 am

No prenup here. We had nothing (no debt, little income) in the beginning. Minor debt now, a little better income. I’m not at all concerned about it, we’ve been putting up with each other for 12 years (6 married), I don’t think he’s going anywhere. If something ever did happen, I know we would be an amicable situation. However, I definitely think it’s a wise idea in many cases. My boss for example. Owns a business, makes good money, and is in an absolutely miserable marriage because if he gets divorced, the wife gets a good chunk of every thing he’s worked for (before and after the marriage). I think that’s sad. I can’t imagine staying in a loveless marriage just to avoid giving up ‘stuff’ and money. Plus I think I deserve a raise for playing therapist in the office when he vents!

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22 StackingCash November 29, 2011 at 2:47 am

I dunno, why get married in the first place? I still feel that prenups are preludes to a divorce.
Just my 2 cents.

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23 Megan November 29, 2011 at 3:08 am

I am not married, however I would not get a prenup – even thought I have more assets, less debt and make more than my boyfriend. The reasoning is simple. I am a Christian, and to me divorce is only an option in the case of infidelity, and I plan to marry someone who is also a Christian. I also believe that in marriage the two become one flesh… so therefore everything should be focused on the family as a whole and not the individual.

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24 Nicole November 29, 2011 at 9:17 am

I did not get a prenup when I married 2 1/2 months ago, though I seriously thought of broaching the subject with my husband. I came into the marriage with no debt, sizable vested pension, 6 figure 401(k) and a company stock plan. He came in with $60,000 in debt and nothing saved. The only reason I decided not to bring it up was because he is in line to inherit the family business. If he hadnt had ‘something to lose’ also, then I would have asked for one. That may sound cruel, but I have been thru one divorce and I know how bad it can get even when you are so in love at the beginning.
I did, however, have an attorney draw up a ‘home partnership agreement’ when we bought our home before marriage. It basically says that because I put the entire down payment down and he brought no cash into the house, that if we broke up, I would be paid back from any proceeds first. In addition, I would be given first rights to buy him out of the house. This agreement is written in such a way, that it is still valid even though we are now married. So, if we divorce, I pretty much get the house, without having to buy him out since I was the one with the funds to get the house in the first place.

Another thing, I have a son from my first marriage, and I made sure that he is protected. I did not make my husband my beneficiary on my life insurance or on my 401(k)—and he actually had to sign agreeing to that. I want my son taken care of in the event of my death. Now, that I am pregnant again, I will probably make things 50/50 between my first son and my husband so that my new baby will be protected also.

And, one last thing, for those of you who say you dont believe in a prenup because you are christian and dont belive in divorce…I am Christian too, my parents and everyone in my family has been married seemingky forever, no divorces. I married a Christian. But, you have NO idea what life has in store for you when you get married, and you have no idea what may bring about a divorce in the years to come. I have known strong couples who divorced after several decades after the death of a child (statistically speaking, most couple who lose a child don’t last). There are also things like job losses, permanaent disabilities, drugs, abuse, and infidelity that come up. You may think your marriage can survive anything, and hopefully it can. But, to judge someone else for a divorce, insinuating that they are less moral, or Christian that you is unfair. In my case, I was a devoted Marine wife who prayed he was safe while deployed, sent care packages weekly, was faithful to him. But, my husband came back from Afghanistan a changed man. I all of a sudden had a husband who was out all hours 5 or 6 nights a week, had a semi-automatic machine gun that he felt needed to be in our house with our new baby, and he got someone else pregnant. Nothing is black and white…there is always gray area.

If you have anything of material value, and the other person does not have a similar vested interest, get a prenup!

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25 Yazmin November 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm

I’m single… for now, but unless I’m making bank and he’s broke, or has lots of debt a prenup is out of the question. Same goes if the roles are reversed. I agree with Nicole that even if you’re Christian you don’t know what’s in store for you. Thinking that your marriage will last forever because of your religion is admirable and shows faith, but reality is you could end up regretting that decision. I’m of the belief that when you deal with your financial future, you do so without getting your feelings involved.

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26 Edward Antrobus November 29, 2011 at 8:08 pm

So that’s why J. wasn’t at my wedding! Our reception was at the city park, so no alcohol allowed.

While I see your points, I’ve always seen a pre-nup as an expectation of failure and a lack of trust. Maybe I’m niave about the world, but I always try to start out with a basis in trust.

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27 Matt, Tao of Unfear November 29, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Since I’m currently single and have no plans to marry any time soon, a prenup hasn’t even been on my radar. But this post made some points I hadn’t considered before. I would certainly want to protect my significant other from the school loans that I do have, and if I do start making money from my writing, I would want to protect that.

Also, because I have a passion for forest gardening, I expect that I’ll be buying property at some point. Since forest gardening is a decades-long endeavor, I wouldn’t want to lose my property once I started developing one. It’s fine if I have to pay them for half the property, if it were a joint purchase, but I would want to ensure that I was physically staying.

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28 Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey November 29, 2011 at 11:06 pm

I don’t believe in prenup. But when a friend got married to her BF and she decided to have a prenup, I asked her why. I even questioned her trust to the guy she is marrying. She said she is protecting her son, a special child who was born out of wedlock. She never received any support from the father. Besides, she earns more and has more savings and property than the guy she is marrying. Years later, she and her husband separated, it was then that I realized the benefits of a prenup.

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29 J. Money December 1, 2011 at 11:15 am

@Edward Antrobus – Yes, that, and you never invited me!!!! (boooooo, haha…) Also, I’m kinda naive like that too — at least we know it! :)

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30 J. Money December 1, 2011 at 12:19 pm

@Bill at FamZoo – Haha, I was curious too!!
@Jessica – “prenupitals give me the creeps” haha… nice.
@Well Heeled Blog – Agreed! It’s soooo sad how people treat each other once things go to $hit. It’s like – “Y’all loved each other for a reason! At least be civil!” I like your question about asking whether they’d be a good ex if that were to happen, haha… you don’t hear that too often ;)
@Angella – That sucks about your boss, sorry to hear :(
@StackingCash – We really need some good stats up in here :)
@Megan – Oh man, I WISH being Christian changed things… It’s crazy the amounts I know who are pretty fake on the outside and just do whatever it is they feel like. And that’s with all religions, not just Christianity (Which I am, too). But luckily there are a lot who play by the rules too! :)
@Nicole – Oh yeah – you have first-hand experience! I think if we all went through that too once, then we’d act accordingly in our next marriage as well. Thanks for sharing your history and thoughts with us! It really helps out :)
@Yazmin – Yup, as sad as that is.
@Matt, Tao of Unfear – I can’t wait for you to start your forest gardening! I wanna come see it and learn too — don’t forget about me, okay? :)
@Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey – Oh wow. Yeah, when kids are involved I feel like it changes everything. I’d probably be more conscious of it too in that situation.

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31 Matt, Tao of Unfear December 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm

@J$

Oh, don’t you worry. I’ll have a shovel with your name on it. ;)

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32 J. Money December 1, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Don’t kid!!! I’ll be there!

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33 Money December 3, 2011 at 5:07 pm

looooooooooool educational and funny.

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34 J. Money December 6, 2011 at 1:20 am

You know how we do it!

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35 J Dub December 8, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Love the Video! I’m actually getting married in 5 months and have been seriously considering a prenup. It was too funny to come along on this video. It was something I brought up very early on in our relationship and she agreed to go along with it. If she said NO I can’t say it would of been a deal breaker but who know’s that was over 6 years ago. I still need to find a local attorney to get a cost estimate before May. Wish me luck I’ll let you all know how it goes.

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36 J. Money December 9, 2011 at 12:05 am

Good luck! And make sure to send her this video too ;)

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37 C December 27, 2011 at 1:56 am

J$, I was married 6 months ago, and beforehand discussed briefly with my parents if I should consider a prenup with my (now) husband. We didn’t get one, and here’s the main reason: Unlike many people, we did not get married after college. We’re both still finishing up college, me being 20 and him being 23. If there was a divorce, we’d be splitting up our main assets… hand-me-down furniture. ;)

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38 J. Money December 27, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Haha, well hopefully we’ll never have to find out and you guys will live happily ever after! :) Congrats on the new marriage! The first couple years are dope. (The others too, of course, but you know what I’m saying…)

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