Example of Family Conflict
When we hear the word argument we think a disagreement between two or more parties with an end result of one person being “right” and the other person being, obviously, “wrong”. An argument is not necessarily meant to attack or criticize anyone, rather to support a person or people’s view on a specific subject. In short, it is another perspective brought to the table. Consider a disagreement in the Jones family: Mr. Jones, the father, comes home to tell his three daughters about this amazing game of golf he played today with Mr. Matthews.
Mr. Jones: “Shot under 70, best game of the whole year, and I also found out a way that Mr. Matthews has saved a lot of money with his kids and grandkids – prenuptial agreements. After my outstanding game we had a couple drinks and he actually discussed in specifics how much time, money and heartache prenuptials have saved him over the last two generations of children and I think I am going to institute such a policy for our family.”
After this announcement he leaves to get cleaned up and his daughters, understandably shocked, begin to bicker between themselves…
The eldest daughter (Jenna) who has been married for 15 years starts, “Well, the Matthew’s have their own set of problems that I am sure prenuptials do not even begin to address. My husband I have been getting on for many years and plan to do so without such an arrangement. I don’t know why Dad would spring this on us out of the blue. If you are smart about picking a partner, you don’t need all of that foolishness.”
The youngest daughter (Bridget) who is completely unattached romantically, “I think this decision makes great sense, Jenna. I mean, it’s not just you and your relationship Dad is talking about. He is talking about us too and our kids. Can you imagine the amount of exposure you are allowing our family to take just because you believe that you and Steve are ‘getting on’? Who knows what tomorrow will hold for you all if last night is any indication.”
The middle daughter (Emily) who is currently engaged and nearly in tears exasperatedly shouts, “Good idea or not and for whatever reason is completely unfair to me! How do you think Carl is going to feel!?! After 6 years of dating and just getting engaged 2 months ago, he is going to think I don’t love or trust him. This could end my relationship!”
How does a family resolve what is clearly on its way to becoming a conflict within the family?
One strategy is to reframe the conflict into a question to be answered or a problem to be solved in the best interests of the entire family. Clearly this family needs information and a forum to discuss the information in order to make an informed decision.
So the conversation changes
“Our family should have prenuptial agreements for protection. Also, Dad thinks it is a good idea.”
“A lot of family businesses use prenuptial agreements as a best practice. Prenuptial agreements can provide protections and safeguards to prevent issues with wealth transitions before they start. What else would support or counter this decision? Where else should we go to get information to weigh in? Does the tool of a a prenuptial agreement fit for our family’s values and traditions? Should we think about adopting a prenuptial agreement policy for our family?”