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When Divorce Was Off the Table, English Couples Dissolved Marriages with Beer (atlasobscura.com)
65 points by walterbell 30 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 101 comments

Somewhat off-topic, but here's how it works today: For a long term marriage in which one spouse never worked, that spouse will likely receive spousal maintenance (alimony) calculated based on the last four years of income from the earning spouse. That will be owned in perpetuity regardless of future earning power. And if you can't pay it, expect to be found in contempt of court, and possibly see prison time.

"and possibly see prison time".

You will see jail time. US family debtors [child support, wife support, etc] are a large portion of the US jail system. Sentences are particularly cruel since it is often not your fault: loss of employment, serious housing crises, etc. Ironically, once you enter into the jail system for non payment (non-employement) - you will probably lose any FUTURE job opportunities.

Here is a guy explaining why he can't 'work' - applied for 50 jobs - off to jail says the judge.


Quite the dystopian society we've created for ourselves. Every day I feel like my soul is burning in the fires of hell.

And from the various Netflix docos I've watched, it seems that jail can be worse than prison. New inmates coming in and out all the time, sleeping on the communal floor due to overcrowding etc.

Don't the courts ammend child support when your income changes? I didn't watch the full video, but from what I saw, the man claimed to have filed an updated financial disclosure, which the judge was unable to find.

> For a long term marriage in which one spouse never worked, that spouse will likely receive spousal maintenance (alimony) calculated based on the last four years of income from the earning spouse. That will be owned in perpetuity regardless of future earning power.

That's...highly variable between different jurisdictions, even within the US, since every state’s family law is different (and support formulas and practices may even vary by county within states.) AFAIK, most states adjust spousal support periodically (of allow parties to request modifications) based on circumstances of both parties except in the case of a settlement specifying permanent fixed support, and the trend is away from true permanent support (even at variable levels) except where the supported spouse genuinely cannot become employable.

As someone going through a divorce right now I can say that these claims are wildly overstated, and in quite a few places completely incorrect.

Permanent alimony is only awarded in 7 US states, and I know that at least in one of those, NJ, it's certainly not guaranteed and can be negotiated around. In the state I'm getting a divorce in and the state I'm currently living in the cap is 1/2 the term of the marriage.

Additionally divorce is a complex process that is largely about handling the cases where the two parties cannot agree. If both parties agree a divorce can be finished in an afternoon and the outcome can be whatever both parties agree to pay. But even in a highly contested divorce there is still a lot of room for negotiation. Even in states that allow permanent alimony this can be negotiated. It's pretty rare that your divorce won't settle before the final court date.

Furthermore, even if your ex-spouse is awarded permanent alimony, you can always go back to court if your earnings is severely limited. No court in the world is going to make you pay alimony based on a $100k income if you end up being forced to make $40k.

Yeah in California mostly it's about child support and division of property. No one gets permanent alimony.

Also in the highly contested divorces I've seen up close, no one actually 'wins'

> "you can always go back to court if your earnings is severely limited"

That's nontrivial. Court takes a lot of time.

Court doesn't take time, documenting takes time.

Seems like in Colorado it can only last until full retirement age - 67.

Consider, if a marriage is a partnership and in this partnership it is agreed by both consenting parties that one will work and one will not, then that's an agreement entered into knowing, full well, that should the relationship end then there will be such consequences. Anyone who complains about those consequences down the road might wish to consider the relationship from the beginning: good communication from day one goes a long way to avoiding such eventualities being a surprise.

In the old days, it was understood as the division of responsibility - one of the spouse, mostly the male, would be responsibile to earn and provide for the family, while the other would be in charge of managing the finance and other household responsibilities.

My point is that it is a modern perspective to paint the "house wife" / "home maker" (mostly the wife due to tradition) as someone who just does menial chores and as an "unproductive" member of society - just because she doesn't earn capital. Where as if you see it from the perspectibe of a family member, she / he as a home maker has different but equally important responsibilities too and plays a vital role in a family unit / society.

Depends where and when "old days" means, but half the population not working was pretty rare. Farms had lots and lots of different kinds of labor, in and outside the house, in different seasons, but everybody worked hard. Victorian mining and mill towns had huge "putting-out" industries, sometimes bigger than the visible ones, organised work for cash but physically distributed. And (as you said) cooking & cleaning was massively more labor-intensive, as well as being much more important before antibiotics etc.

That's very true - I was speaking more from the upper middle class urban perspective I grew up in, where most married women who opted to stay at home only managed the household finance and day to day chores of looking after the needs of their family members. (Which, in India at that time, was no easy task even with maids, as we are talking about joint families living together.)

My grandparents fom my father's side were rural farmers however, and yes, like you rightly pointed, these women really had more responsibilities. I recall that my grandmother, at one point had to manage a household of around 40 people (including the labourers who worked in their farm)!

What if the agreement was that both parties would work, then one of the parties lost their job, never finds a new one and after a while completely stopped looking? Even if the other party really wanted them to and hated having to work full time? What if eventually that was the cause for the marriage breakdown?

I see your point but if we're talking here about a lengthy marriage, where the stakes are really life-changing: the sharing of a mortgage-free home, life insurance policies, savings - that all takes 20-30 years. I would hope, that of after decades of co-habitation there is a breakdown, the friendship between the partners should carry through to a reasonable conclusion. If the breakdown happens in the first few years, there is little to lose.

It is seriously possible that a couple could be married 2-3 years, have it break down because of unreasonable causes e.g one person shows their true self, and then the other person must pay alimony the rest of their lives? If this is the case, then sure I'm in agreement with that being absolutely stupid.

That is the case, and it is absolutely stupid. It is also one of the reasons marriage rates have plummeted. There is a tremendous need for reform of alimony and child support laws to reflect the social changes that have happened in the last few decades.

It's not true. Alimony formulas are on a sliding scale based on years of marriage and employment history.

People in this conversation need to be more discerning about what kind of person they marry in the first place...

right, surely lack of discernment about marriage deserves a little prison-time.

I admit I've never been in a divorce but the idea of marrying someone who could come to respect me so little as to ruin my life would be a non starter.

You'd be surprised how much people can change over a decade, even 5 years. Hell even over a year.

Watch the Amanda and Rob segments of A Different Brain by Louis Theroux. (available in the usual places). https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07c6fjk

If it was agreed by both parties that the spouse wouldn’t work. The woman leaving their job because they now have a husband that supports her was never supposed to be part of the deal.

When it’s part of the deal, it is supposed to be temporary while the children grow up, not a permanent right of the wife to cease supporting her lifestyle.

It was supposed to help the children. Marriage was for the children initially.

It seems plausible to me that societies that developed a marriage type situation could have benefited from more stability due to men being more settled (or at least having the veneer of being settled) and not competing with each other for every woman they see.

Otherwise, it seems possible we could end up with a situation where 20% of men get 80% of women like many other species and the males have to keep fighting each other to determine who gets them.

I wonder whether traditional marriage is the cause of western style society rather than a product of it.

If only the Alpha males get to reproduce then you only select for Alpha male type characteristics. You don't select for the gene sets that will produce new inventions, good craftspeople, or people who can work at administration of larger groups.

There is no alpha male. The original study confused the father in a family of wolves as a general "alpha". The original author retracted the results, but it still lives on.


Substitute "alpha" with "cad", then. The fact remains that when transaction costs are reduced (as with mobile app dating), polygamy increases to that number of 20% of males mating with 80% of the females, with reproduxtio mitigated by modern birth control.

We've outlawed dueling yet we've also dismantled the traditional institution of marriage. These are very strange times.

The traditional institution of marriage is less changed than you might assume. Historically, it’s varied quite a bit from any given norm, the largest change is simply longer lifespans and less cheating.

The most important change in the last 50 years compared to any time before is that women now have the option to be self sufficient.

Even accepting your premise, which I don't...

Is it ethical to require half of the species to be dependent just for societal stability?

I never insinuated that half the species should be dependent for social stability. In a previous comment, I mentioned it was plausible a one woman-one man (or any 1 to 1 partnership ignoring genders) results in more stable societies due to less competition.

It lasts longer but less cheating happens? How? Has marriage actually become stronger?


Not one of your downvoters, but some discussion: many countries used to have the concept of a guilty party in divorces and only abandoned it after a considerable buildup of painful experience. Divorces don't get less ugly when you force the judge to pick a winner.

On the flip side, in England and Wales there's no such thing as a 'no fault divorce', which is crazy.

Typically assets are split evenly and that's it - unless children are involved.

Haven't downvoted, but I'll discuss it if you're still around.

Seeing it as being about breadwinner at all is, to my mind, rather beside the point. If a partner hasn't worked in years, they are dependent on the working partner's income.

Alimony isn't usually unlimited and exists in principle (and often in practice) to support the dependent partner until their financial situation is resolved. The alternative would be state support, not nothing. There's no mechanism in a modern state to leave someone without financial support (although there are substantial failures in practice).

Having taxpayers pay for things that can be arranged privately is generally avoided, and given that people are in broad strokes aware of alimony laws, they've tacitly agreed to such support by marrying.

So I suppose I'd ask what you'd propose as an alternative system?

So if a man has an affair with his secretary, the wife can kick him out and claim all the combined assets and income for the rest of time?

That would be an improvement over the current situation, yes.

Ideally, joint assets remain joint and there are no claims against future income.

Except where there are kids involved this is almost entirely the case in the UK so I struggle to see the reality of a world that's different.

I guess it's rather unfair to the stay-at-home husband though, who's given up his career to look after the kids, and thus has lost 10 years of continual work and training out of the job market. When income differences are extreme (say wife on $150ka a year and husband having given up a high paying profession 10 years earlier), it would make sense for the husband to get a 'get back on your feet' sort of stipend.

There are more dimensions to this relationship than just monetary. By your logic, the working party should be able to deduct from any support the cost of a housekeeper, a babysitter, a home cook, and a prostitute once a week/month depending on the usual "schedule".

Divorce is the end of an arrangement. If one party is risking losing half of what they built with their spouse plus support in perpetuity then what does the other party risk?

Yup, because what should happen is that the working spouse should leave the non-working spouse penniless and homeless, especially if they have been married 20-40 years.

I will, however, add that not everywhere does any sort of alimony - not every state in the US does it, even, and I can only imagine the difference between countries. I originally from Indiana, which only allows such thing in a limited number of cases. There aren't laws that provide for it. If your spouse leaves, you are just out of luck - though you might be entitled to some retirement benefits.

In most cases marital assets are split evenly, including future social security payments to the non-working spouse. Permanent alimony creates an extreme burden because it is not sensitive to changes in the primary earner's circumstances.

All-or-nothing is a false dichotomy. It should depend on age, time spent together, and possibly other circumstances.

...and whether she stopped working for the kids, and whether the father was given the possibility to be the one that stops working for the kids.

I’m surprised that so many people assume men have much choice. They’re often put in that position de facto, and they do checkout of marriage because the rules are unbalanced worldwide.

Between 42% and 75% people in Japan, depending on how you ask the question, plan not to marry or not to even seek love. In USA, MGTOWs get a lot of hate because they checkout of the idea of a romantic relationship. They are explicitly forbidden in the ToS of Vimeo. Today it is forbidden to talk to men about the risks and the number of females who adopt toxic behavior in marriage, and the sole accepted answer is usually: « That’s why it’s important to discuss with your wife ».

When people say « Well, men have accepted the contract of marriage, they should suffer the consequences », first I hear no such obligation about women, but men do massively fight the unbalanced rules of the contract, and are humiliated by society when they do it.

MGTOW don’t merely “check out of the idea of a romantic relationship” and proceed to focus on something positive and healthy - plenty of people do that ime, they’re happy being single and focusing on work or hobbies or what-have-you - instead they spend their time spreading misogynistic hate wherever they’re not banned, and using bans as further evidence that women have taken over the world rather than reflection on their own behaviour.

Look at it this way: “I think society should put less expectation on men to be the primary provider while women care for children and the home, and both should be expected to take equal roles in both”, would be a perfectly reasonable approach to solving the problem of childbirth affecting women’s careers (the problem that alimony is currently meant to solve) that everybody could agree with... and in fact feminists have been arguing for a very long time. MGTOW don’t argue that because they don’t actually want that - they often seem to actually want those traditional roles, but don’t want to make things right if a relationship fails.

>MGTOW don’t merely “check out of the idea of a romantic relationship”

If you discovered a minefield in your backyard, would you merely avoid it or would you also tell others to avoid the minefield and naturally get angry at whoever set up the minefield?

>“I think society should put less expectation on men to be the primary provider while women care for children and the home, and both should be expected to take equal roles in both”

It is far, far easier to protect yourself from society than to change society.

On average, men are better off financially after divorce and women worst off financially after divorce. However, women are happier after divorce then men who are more lonely and depressive. Then again men are more likely to find another partner.

Citation needed regarding Vimeo. I read the ToS and found nothing of the sort.

> Yup, because what should happen is that the working spouse should leave the non-working spouse penniless and homeless, especially if they have been married 20-40 years.

Unfortunately most divorces are initiated by women. Should the man still be required to pay alimony in such cases? What if the man initiates it due to cheating? Women tend to receive alimony in all cases which is pretty disgusting.

If they both agreed on her taking care of kids+house and not working and him focusing on career not being limited by kids+house, yes.

Effective way to avoid this is to not arrange things this way. She won't get alimony if she kept her career.

Also, working women are more likely to ask for divorce. Being stay at home when relationship turns bad is sorta trap even with alimony.

The trick of it really is that being a homemaker had gotten exponentially easier over the last century thanks to automation, creating an awkward imbalance in responsibilities where one person works 40+ hrs plus half of nights/weekends work, and the other works a relatively casual home job plus half the nights and weekends work

Sure. I am not advocating long term homemakers in today's world. I think that women including moms going to work is good development. But also, I would rather be the one going to work then the one at home. I was at home for some time so I can compare the two - unless job is really shitty it is better then completely pointless day after pointless day. But I also get how easily ressentment on other side settle too when job is not perfect.

Today it is done either as a value thing (e.g. conservative Christian who believe this is morally right) or for convenience - you actually can't work 40+ hrs plus half of nights/weekends while doing half childcare. Staying at home allows partners career to be unaffected by home.

When couple decide they want to split things that way and we're like that for long years, then it makes sense that the one whose career and salary is benefiting pay the other one who lost employemen possibilities.

I have however never claimed the above is reasonable or preferable split at all ( unless you both have 4 kids or something). I am all for moms working and for partners to share both household work and both earn.

Not sure I agree. I think the focus has shifted from cooking and cleaning to intensive parenting.

Not even in that case, NO!

If she initiated to break a marriage by cheating, she did out of her own volition and should have been mindful of her actions having consequences, rather than shifting the burden conveniently on husband.

In other cases where also the degree and market value of the divorcee woman is close to zero, its also the responsibility of the her to get back to college with a loan of her own. This is because the husband is already contributing equally towards the living expenses of kids+house financially and is taking care of it( its not nil) along with providing for wife for whatever the benefit I got from her. So the husband doesn't owe her anything. These are the terms by default by entering the contract.

If I was a stay at home dad, I did get covered with a roof, food and cloth. Not only that, I get enough security in such matrimonial home from any threat of life, the alternative being homelessness ceteris paribus. My contribution towards my working wife is way lesser in value compared to what she gives me even after I took care of her children who were my children as well.

So I can't ask for alimony as if I earned it in case of divorce. Alimony should at best be a loan not security. You got to list out the contributions of husband during the marriage too!

Just because my ex-wife was a stay at home mom doesn't make me a free cash supply after marriage. Her alimony is temporary to find herself a job and she is expected to stand on her own feet as soon as possible. I'd also argue that she should pay back with interest whatever it took to support her from financial destitution post marriage. The husband is not at all obligated to pay for someone's living, even if she was his wife before.

Even after correcting and compensating with current rules of alimony, if husbands are richer and wives are poorer financially after divorce, that itself is an indication of husband's cost towards such marriage and working wife's freebies of such marriage. Even then, most women are initiating the divorce because financially poorer doesn't mean being in completely destitute. Free money!

> Even then, most women are initiating the divorce because financially poorer doesn't mean being in completely destitute.

If the only thing that keeps partner with you is being destitute, then your relationships and marriage is death. You are just exchanging pretention for money, if that.

And for christ, why would you want to stay with some who despises you and is with you only because she would be destitute otherwise? Like, what is the point of that all?

Don't agree to sacrifice her earnings for marriage. Then, there is no alimony and nothing of the rest after. None of these problems - except it being easier to leave for both of you when it fails.

Does this mean that if the working spouses loses their job, and then gets a new job with a lower salary, they will still be paying the higher amount of alimony?

In USA it's usually expressed as a percentage of income and a mandatory willingness to generate income.

>mandatory willingness

This is the most Orwellian term I've heard all week. I think a better word for this is "slavery".

that's what I understand the law to be in my country.

What country? Citation?

That story does not support the claim it is offered to support.

The article keeps using the word "selling" to make it sound like the women in question had no choice in the matter, but every example they give is of women who already lived/had a relationship with their extra-marital lover. So it was basically just a way to seal an already existing relationship.


> “The practice in England was not really a sale, but rather a sort of customary divorce plus remarriage in which a woman who had committed adultery was divorced by her husband and given to her partner in adultery,” says Matthew H. Sommer, a Department of History Chair at Stanford University and author of Polyandry and Wife-Selling in Qing Dynasty China.

We had a guy come to our warehouse and work for a week. Pretty good worker. We got a wage garnishing letter and he owes like $25k for two kids each (thought they were duplicate docs at first), $8k and $3k.

He stopped coming or answering his phone as soon as we got the letters... Now plenty of things could have happened, but my theory is the garnish is high enough that he’s rather bounce around and get one ungarnished week out of as many different places as possible. Even if the math doesn’t work out, he may just be resentful enough to blow off jobs that comply w garnishing.

Good times.

Can someone remind me of any good reason to marry a woman nowadays?

A good reason: If it's culturally expected and universal in the country you live in.

Or even in expected in another country, e.g. I almost married my Turkish girlfriend a few years ago. (The relationship ended before that happened, very long story) I'm in Australia, but that really felt like we were in Turkey. Couldn't walk down the street holding hands, because Turkish people would see and the family would find out. It seemed having a boyfriend is a kind of shameful, bad thing for a woman, but suddenly if you get married, it's all wonderful, you're no longer fair game for harrassment etc. I've never wanted to get married in the least (it never came up with any girlfriend I'd had before that), and don't know how anyone can promise to love another forever - but to make my partner and her daughter's lives better, in many ways, so easily, seemed a very good reason.

> ... to make my partner and her daughter's lives better, in many ways, so easily, seemed a very good reason.

By obeying the "boyfriend is a kind of shameful, bad thing for a woman" logic one becomes responsible of "perpetuating" this backward, hurtful culture.

To raise children, to have regular access to safe and intimate sex, and all the lifestyle, cost saving, and health benefits of cohabitation with someone, in the expanded pool of potential partners that includes women who want marriage. But opting out of family life and ending your gene line is fine, it increases competition for the men who remain.

None of that requires literal marriage, although that lifestyle is essentially the same as marriage.

> to have regular access to safe and intimate sex

lol, you've never been married have you

Not really, the family courts in most Western nations have made it completely untenable.

It saves inheritance tax.

If you're married a lot of things are easier if one of you passes away, otherwise things have to be prearranged. Are all household bills in joint names, are all investments with named beneficiaries, are all assets defined in a will, are all credit agreements covered, are there end of life choices documented?

Marriage is a formal agreement between two parties with respect to the rules through which they will break up.

I thought it still had some tax advantages.

The lawyers benefit from it at least.

Otherwise it's a lose / lose situation for everyone.

Because you love them and want to express that?

In 2019, it all looks terribly misogynistic.

No losing your house, no alimony... maybe they were on to something. Let wives also be able to sell their husbands and bring it back!

If you own a house before marriage, perhaps a prenup would be prudent. Otherwise, it wasn't really your house, it was the family home.

Not everywhere has alimony either. If the money-making wife leaves the husband who has raised kids, he's just out of luck.

> If you own a house before marriage, perhaps a prenup would be prudent. Otherwise, it wasn't really your house, it was the family home.

I don't know how it works in the US, but here in Poland, all your assets from before marriage remain exclusively yours after you marry. They're not subject to split in the case of a divorce.

It's the same in France, I works have thought it was pretty much universal (well, in the West at least).

In Brazil there are three modes you can choose: the full one in which all assets are common, the partial one in which the assets from before marriage are separate but the assets from after marriage are common, and the separate one in which the assets are kept separate. A quick web search tells me that the default was full for marriages until 1977, and since then the default is partial (https://lucenatorres.jusbrasil.com.br/artigos/450042665/os-d...).

Not in places like California, where many HN commentators are. Everything by default becomes common ownership unless you explicitly take steps to establish otherwise, with only a few exceptions (e.g. certain retirement accounts). It’s a state level thing though, so there isn’t one story for the whole US.

>If you own a house before marriage, perhaps a prenup would be prudent.

If you're worried about losing a significant sum of your assets as a result of marriage, the only solution is to not get married. Prenuptials are generally considered to be worthless and any decent lawyer will find a way to get them thrown out. According to point 5 here [1], a case could easily be made that the plaintiff wasn't prepared for having to find a house after divorce, their quality of life is significantly worse than the standard they've come to adapt to after marriage, etc.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/jefflanders/2013/04/02/five-rea...

>the only solution is to not get married

You will pay whether you’re married or not: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common-law_marriage

Or marry someone trustworthy, and make an informal agreement about how to split assets upon divorce. And if you don't trust them to keep that agreement, should you really be marrying them?

In that case, why marry at all, since you can't trust them to not divorce you?

Because not everything is possible without marriage. Marriage gives a legal framework to so many facets of life that is can be tricky when one doesn't. For example, medical care. If you aren't married, a "spouse" may not be able to make decisions for your care.

And that's just for folks already living in the same country. I couldn't live with my spouse before marriage because we lived in different countries. While one allowed a fiance visa, it was only good for 6 months, during which the fiance not only couldn't work, but couldn't open a local bank account.

People can't control how they feel, so it's unreasonable to expect someone to stick to something they're no longer enjoying. But people can control whether they stick to their word in financial dealings.

It's not about trust. People change.

People's feelings change, but how much integrity somebody has (whether they keep their word) is a part of their character, and people's character changes less frequently.

No, no. People change. Trust me. Every single man who got divorced was sure he found the one. Every single one.

Especially when there’s even a financial incentive to getting out of a relationship you no longer enjoy. Everybody has a price, and seeing your marriage failing and a financial bonus to getting out of it changes opinions and convictions pretty fast.

This is especially true in countries that openly favour one of the spouses. For exaple ones where the legal framework doesn’t consider the contribution each spose had to the marriage, and one of them will invariably receive financial aid.

Integrity doesn't change, it's either there or it isn't. If you start a business with somebody, then after 10 years they suddenly backstab you and take your business, we don't say "they changed", we say they had no integrity to begin with. Integrity that somebody won't stick to is almost by definition not integrity, as "keeping one's word" implies keeping it unconditionally.

My first marriage ended in divorce, and we settled entirely amicably, out of court, because we both thought it would be pretty horrible to drag the other through the court system just because it turned out we wanted different things in life.

To assess integrity, it's not enough to look at how someone treats you, the person they love. It's also important to look at how they treat things they don't care about, how they treat things they hate, how they approach things they don't want to do but have to do anyway, how they treat people under their power like employees or serving staff. How they treat the promises they don't have to keep. Because if the love dies, that may be how they'll treat you.

Yes, and everyone thinks they're a great judge of character and integrity and they won't get backstabbed. Just the unenlightened and unwashed masses around them who don't know how to really look at a person and determine how trustworthy they are.

Then life goes on and someone who they thought was decent goes through a difficult time in life and backstabs them.

Even ignoring the very simple fact that people do change, there's the undeniable fact that the circumstances around a person change and it can and does push people to do things that they typically wouldn't do.

People who've lived comfortable lives and never had money troubles think they'll always be fine, but the minute their finances take a slight dip, they panic. It's a problem they never expected and it's probable they'll make some irrational decisions. Or maybe that person you've trusted all your life found out their brother has cancer and they're desperate to do anything to pay for the bills.

Shit happens. People try to adapt to it however they can. Thinking you'll avoid problems just by judging their integrity with a firm handshake and getting to know them is setting yourself up to be screwed over by people who know how to find an easy target, if not setting yourself up to be one of those virtuous people who screws over other people because your motives are good and theirs aren't.

Integrity, like any human characteristic, is a distribution; some people have more of it than others. If you just view everybody as the same, you're more likely to end up with somebody with average integrity, as opposed to if you actively searched for people displaying greater integrity. Similarly, assessing people is a skill that varies greatly among people, and if you just take the view that everybody is the same at it, you'll have no motivation to develop that skill yourself.

Will you vet them for a decade before committing for a few decades? if not, how would you know the agreement will be honored after longer time than you know them? Can you be sure of that with anyone?

I suppose it depends on how much confidence you have in your ability to assess somebody's character.

As anecdata, I remember getting the same legal advice as well years ago: prenups get thrown out by the judge all the time, so you might as well not bother having one.

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