The tradition of prenuptial agreements is much older than you think

accreditation
A couple signing a prenuptial agreement.
A couple signing a prenuptial agreement.

There are some things in life that date back to the days of ancient times. Much to my surprise, I discovered that prenuptial agreements are one of them.

I mean, listen, everyone hates reading the terms and conditions of anything that’s longer than two pages max, but imagine having to draft up a contract that was an 8-foot long parchment detailing the arrangement between a couple in a time where arranged marriages were more common than love matches?

In fact, while modern day marriage contracts are generally not as long, in ancient Egypt, this was pretty much par for the course.  

According to Prenuptialagreements.org, marriages were treated like a business transaction. It was seen as a way to not only boost the status of the family, but was also viewed as being an economic advantage to the community and country.

Surprisingly enough, in ancient Egypt, the arrangement contract (like the one above), would ensure that the wife was not only taken care of during marriage, but also during divorce. Wealth back then wasn’t necessarily measured solely in gold and silver, but also in agricultural produce.

READ MORE: It's a dying tradition but every bride should consider it as part of their wedding

As in the video example above, the wife was promised 1.2 pieces of silver and 36 bags of grain up until her death. Depending on the type of contract, men could also have it drafted in a way that would allow them to take on mistress.

In a piece we recently featured when we first heard that a certain royal couple would be forgoing prenuptial contracts (that still hasn’t been completely confirmed), we delved into the various types of contracts that are available and covered the following:

  • Marriage in community of property
  • A marriage out of community of property, without accrual
  • A marriage out of community of property with the accrual system
  • Customary Marriage Act contracts

The type of contract you choose, of course, depends on the needs of your relationship, but in a poll we ran, 43% revealed that they opted for a marriage out of community of property with the accrual system.

Thus, this tradition may seem to have been a modern invention of sorts, but it’s clear that even in ancient times, the need for agreements, arrangements and contracts that serve to protect and provide were a necessity.

Sign up to W24’s newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our hot stories and giveaways.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, I believed it was authentic
7% - 362 votes
Yes, I didn't want to spend that much money on the original item
20% - 1048 votes
No, I always shop at reputable stores
13% - 693 votes
No, I don't wear designer clothing
60% - 3147 votes
Vote