Marriage Tips from NBA “Player X”

When I got home from work this afternoon I started browsing through the January 10, 2011 issue of ESPN The Magazine.  One of my favorite articles in the magazine is the NBA Player X article and the NBA Player X blog.  I like the inside look at the league and the perspective of some amazing athletes and businessmen.

I’m not sure that I ever thought my ESPN The Magazine subscription would give me a lot of inspiration for my family law blog, but I was proven wrong this evening.  The title of this edition of the NBA Player X article is “Why should you take marital advice from a pro?  Because we’ve seen it all.”

I guess I should start with the title.  I have no doubt that these guys are put in the throws of some crazy temptation as soon as they get off the plane each night in whatever distant city they are playing in.  Player X describes the temptations as “crazy” and says that it is almost impossible for a married professional athlete not to cheat because of the temptations, long times away from family, “targets on our chest” and women who are “fine as hell.”

So, based on that premise, this NBA pro has some marital advice for young pros.  Here’s the summary of his tips:

  1. Have a prenup in place before you get married.
  2. Perhaps an “open door” policy with your spouse will make your marriage stronger
  3. Don’t mess with your teammates’ partners

So, let’s start with the prenup.  A prenuptial agreement is basically where you and your soon-to-be spouse sign a written agreement that has been mutually negotiated and when each party has been advised by independent counsel.  This is the place where Player X recommends that you get a prenuptial agreement in place before you get married so you don’t end up like Tiger Woods where his ex-wife Elin “took” him for $100 million. Basically, his advice boils down to this – if your wife won’t sign the prenup don’t marry her.

A prenuptial agreement may be what’s in your best interest if you are trying to protect wealth or other interests that you have obtained prior to your marriage to your prospective wife.  I would add some recommendations to this point for Player X:

First, don’t spring this on your fiancee.  I’ve seen it several times in my practice where a groom tells the bride a few days before the wedding that he would like her to sign a prenup that his lawyer has prepared.  This is bad in more ways than one.  First, it’s just bad form.  Second, it may lead a judge down the road if you face divorce to throw the prenup out because your wife didn’t have adequate and reasonable time to have the prenup reviewed by an independent lawyer, to obtain full financial disclosure from you and negotiate fairly.

Second, don’t sign the prenup without obtaining advice and counsel from a lawyer.  You may be giving up a lot – you may be giving up nothing, but you won’t know without the competent advice of a lawyer.  Many times, I have advised clients not to sign a prenup because it is not in the client’s best interest.  Most of the time, they sign it anyway (against my advice) because they want to get married.

The second bit of advice from Player X is to talk to your wife “about the temptations [you] face, answer all their hard-hitting questions and come to an understanding.”  The proposed understanding is that if the guy can play around so can the wife – as long as everyone is up front about it and not doing it behind their partner’s back.  Oh – and don’t forget the man code where you can’t do it with my teammate.

The only good part of this advice is the encouragement to talk to your husband/wife about the temptations that you face.  Spouses should be open with one another about all matters in their life.  Temptations, failures, victories, finances, friends, etc.  I meet with people every week who have separated from their spouses and most of the time a certain portion of it is due to a lack of communication between spouses.  Secrets, lies, and insecurities are born out of failure to communicate.

I’m not sure the rest of his advice is good in any world except the wacky world of the NBA.  I think most women I know would be thinking about a divorce if their husband came to them proposing an open relationship.  Maybe I’m the only one?  Player X says this will make the marriage stronger and will also make things better for each spouse and the kids.  Personally, I think it sets a terrible example for the kids.

Finally, there’s a short anecdote about Dwayne Wade’s fight for custody of his kids.  I totally respect D-Wade for wanting to be the primary caretaker for his children after his divorce.  It’s a position that most men simply don’t want.  But, I think it shows a lot when a parent is ready to step up because he/she thinks they are raise their children in a better way than their spouse.  Some fights are worth getting into.

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