Washington Post financial columnist Michelle Singletary dealt directly with the importance of a serious financial talk before marriage when she addressed this question from a reader:
"I'm a 32-year-old woman who has just started a fantastic relationship with a great guy (he's 39). We've been together for approximately three months. . . . The other night, he told me he would not get married without a prenup. I felt a divide between us when he said that.
"I guess I've always thought someone that wanted a prenup is someone selfish and doesn't want to share things or their full life with someone else. . . . I have a middle-class salary and only a small 401(k) and stock account — $50,000 and $15,000 respectively. He's been working many years more than I have, makes double what I make, and his family is definitely more wealthy. . . .
"If he won't get married without one, and I don't know if I will sign one, what should I do?"
I think you should take a step back. You've only been dating for three months. Generally, I agree with you. Once you get married, you should treat all assets and liabilities as if they belonged to both of you. But, and that's a BIG but, if both parties agree about a prenup especially if they are older and there are children from previous relationships, I don't think a prenup is a bad thing.
However, you do object. You do have a different viewpoint about this than the guy you are dating. And, yes, it should be a deal-breaker if you continue to feel the way you do. Besides, he made it clear, right? No prenup. No marriage.
So, if you continue to date, at some point soon, when you aren't so outraged, ask the guy to talk about it. Tell him what you told me. Tell him you aren't feeling this prenup thing. Let him explain why he would want one.
If he insists there must be a prenup before a wedding, perhaps he isn't the right guy for you. But make the call before you fall in love and become so invested in the relationship that you make a compromise you may regret — resulting in the need to use a prenup.