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Because Some Things Aren't Covered in the Wedding Vows

Lifestyles: Two engineers left little to chance with a 16-page prenuptial pact addressing kids, budgets and sex. Were they ever surprised over the fuss people made of it.

February 12, 1996|DAVID BEHRENS | NEWSDAY

ALBUQUERQUE — Rex and Teresa LeGalley are learning that it can be a little unpleasant on the frontiers of marital bliss. They just received their first obscene phone call.

A hard-working, well-to-do couple of professionals, they are hardly accustomed to the limelight.

Rex, 39, is a communications engineer. Teresa, 31, is a computer engineer. Never did they consider themselves special or particularly different from anyone else--except, perhaps, for their mutual penchant for detail.

"No question," Rex LeGalley declares with extra emphasis, "we're detail people!"

So last summer, they wrote out an extraordinary prenuptial agreement and, on July 5, 1995, two days before they flew to Hawaii to be married, they filed the 16-page document as a public record in the Bernalillo County clerk's office. It quickly became the topic of much comment and giggling.

"None of us had ever seen anything like this--about how many times a week you'd have sex and what time you had to go to sleep," one employee said.

The agreement, suddenly a public document, was also filled with financial provisions, allowing Rex and Teresa each to retain their prenuptial property in the event of divorce. But it was the more intimate details that caught the attention of the clerks.

Yet, Document No. 95-065775 was forgotten in a pile of other documents until a few weeks ago. Then, on Page 24 of the February issue of Harper's magazine, there appeared an excerpt from the couple's agreement--for all the world to see. And what an excerpt it was:

* It revealed that Rex and Teresa had agreed to "engage in healthy sex three to five times per week."

* To retire for the night at 11:30 p.m. and awake at 6:30 a.m.

* To assign Rex full responsibility for "family leadership and decision-making."

* To live within a budget and "pay cash for everything unless agreed to otherwise," including a new home in the future.

* To leave "nothing . . . on the floor overnight, unless packing for a trip."

* To never drive any closer to another car than "one-car length per 10 mph" and never allow their fuel gauges to drop below the half-tank mark.

Under the terms of the agreement, Rex was to handle all finances and maintain the outside of the house. Teresa was in charge of household chores and shopping, with the promise to "work off a list every time she goes to the grocery store."

Teresa also agreed to remain on birth control for two years before trying to become pregnant. And both agreed to delay having a second child until one of them is free to stay at home with the children.

A firm monthly budget, "set in concrete," was also part of the pact, Rex said. All provisions were subject to change, of course, "but only by mutual agreement," they had agreed.

The LeGalleys were "amazed" when told that their rules of marital conduct had been published in a national magazine.

Lawyer friends had urged them to file the document in the county courthouse, so the property agreement would have unquestioned legal standing, Rex said.

"We figured it would stay private. But I guess it's public now."

The day after the local newspaper printed a story about them, the LeGalleys received an official taste of notoriety: the shrill voice of an anonymous caller shouting into their answering machine that they had better keep their blankety-blank stupid lives out of the newspapers. "You people make me sick!" the caller screamed.

And they never really had a chance to explain, in detail, what they were all about.

*

Rex LeGalley was raised in Buffalo, Tex., a small town southeast of Dallas, where he played high school football before going on to Texas A & M. He still has a pro lineman look, carrying more than 250 pounds on his 6-foot frame.

Teresa LeGalley, formerly Teresa Garpstas, tall and slim with long brown hair and a bright smile, grew up in Ohio and went to Wright State College in Dayton.

They met at a dance club in mid-1994 and talked for hours, but neither anticipated any serious relationship. Then they became involved in a retail marketing business together.

"We just kept talking and talking, doing things together and it just happened. But we discovered we had a lot of needs that were different and we should consider all these things," Teresa recalled, sitting in their modern, sun-filled home at the foot of the Sandia Mountains east of the city.

Talking about their pact--really an amalgam of compromises shaped by memories from the past and anxieties about the future--it seems more reasonable, at least more reasoned. Rex explained that since his two earlier marriages had failed, he was eager to avoid mistakes. Teresa, married briefly in her mid-20s, believed that this written agreement would be taken more seriously.

"It began as a way of getting to know each other--making a list of all the goals we agreed on," Teresa said. "The bottom line was to avoid doing things that would upset the other person."

And while a number of matrimonial lawyers suggest that the pact may be unprecedented in its detail, at least as part of a public record, the LeGalleys insist that by spelling out rules for living together, this marriage may have a better chance to survive.

"When you look at the divorce rate these days, I think anyone would be crazy to go into a marriage without a lot of agreements and a lot of time to discuss them," Rex said. "So many people are in such a rush, they don't have time for a courtship, for a serious relationship, and that's scary."

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