Dear Kevin,

Our daughter became engaged last fall to a young man from a wealthy local family. I know about their wealth because they talk about it to the exclusion of almost every other topic. They enjoy a competitive display of jewels, cars and real estate. The stigma attached to fur has yet to reach them. They are loud with each other in that way of the recently rich.

My daughter’s fiance is the least boorish of the noisy clan. He was well-mannered around us until we attended his family’s Christmas party. The Garishes, as we call them in private, consumed a lot of alcohol to mark the birth of Jesus. As the evening went on, there were references to the prenuptial agreement our daughter would be signing before wedding invitations get mailed. Their idea of a save-the-date is the one in a lawyer’s office to ink the deal. I noticed some painful looks on the faces of other siblings’ spouses.

Our daughter, who is bright in many ways, sees what is happening but thinks her fiance will be different from the rest of his family. My husband and I don’t. How do we advise our daughter to protect herself without alienating her?

— Mom

Dear Mom,

You are wise to ask. Congratulations to your daughter for adding some economic diversity to a love match. Most jurisdictions require that both parties to a prenuptial agreement have their own lawyer. Go far from the town where you and the Garishes live and find someone experienced and blunt. That lawyer will explain to your daughter what she’s up against while you and her father nod at alternate intervals. Cinderella should learn what she’s up against before the ball.

A tart opening letter from your daughter’s lawyer will let your prospective son- in-law’s puppet masters know you raised a woman with spine. Turn this on them for soiling pure young love.

The showy sometimes have more glitz than cash. The groom will have to disclose his assets, including any interests in family businesses and trusts. Expect some financial surprises. Insist they pay for your beloved daughter’s lawyer and an intrepid accountant.

In the interest of a happy marriage, any agreement should include a substantial payment to your daughter on the eve of the wedding, to be hers and hers alone. A modern husband should delight in providing his wife some economic independence. Let that be his test.



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