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The Short Version: Finances are often a huge source of stress and tension for couples. It can be difficult for partners to communicate about money, especially when they have different financial personalities. Couples who want to improve their relationship with money can turn to The Couples Financial Coach for help. Adam Kol has dedicated his practice to helping couples achieve financial and personal success.
When single people consider what they want in a partner, they often focus on the characteristics associated with romance: humor, physical attractiveness, kindness, and potentially shared passions. Seldom would they think of financial compatibility. Talking about money makes many people uncomfortable, and even those who feel fine talking about money rarely like to do so in the early phases of a relationship. Personal finances may seem like an unromantic or even shallow consideration going into a relationship.
In reality, being communicative about money early on can do wonders to preserve and enhance a romantic relationship in the future. Along with sex, money is one of the main issues that come up in couples’ fights. Whether it’s overspending, poor investments, or frugality, a financial disconnect between partners can lead to passive-aggressive behavior, tension, and blow-up fights that strain a relationship.
As a relationship becomes more serious and a couple makes more financial decisions together, the role money plays in the relationship grows. Even if a couple elects to keep their finances separate, different mindsets around spending can result in the pair wanting different lifestyles that may not work with each other.
Couples who struggle with money – or simply want to get on the same page – should look to The Couples Financial Coach, Adam Kol, for help. Adam realized that a lot of financial stress is actually avoidable. But unfortunately, avoiding talks about money for a long time can make it harder to get back on track in financial communication.
“We cycle between avoiding talking about money and hiding our feelings because we don’t want to get hurt, but that’s not sustainable in the long run,” Adam said. “It only makes us more scared of bringing it up again in the future, so we hold onto it longer. But the issue only gets deeper, so you can imagine the fights grow in intensity over time.”
If couples understand their background with regard to money, their personality around money, and how to best handle their finances, they can get ahead of the curve. Money can become a neutral or even positive element of their lives and relationships. And when couples handle their finances together, they can establish financial intimacy in their relationship.
Adam Kol is no stranger to finances, mediation, and relationship stress. After studying finance in college, he studied at Duke Law School and received a Masters in tax law from NYU. He used his degrees at a major accounting firm and then became a certified mediator.
While Adam was excelling in his professional life, he reached a hard spot in his personal life. After years of marriage, he went through a divorce. “Ours wasn’t finance related, but it was hard,” Adam said. “No matter how you slice it, divorce is one of the most stressful life experiences a person can go through.”
He moved to California, ready to start a new chapter of his career and his life. After going through a divorce and picking up many professional skills and areas of expertise, Adam realized that he could best serve others by creating financial advice and coaching that was tailored to the needs of couples. He wanted to help people get on top of their finances in a way that would positively and sustainably improve their relationships.
Money and relationships are often talked about as two separate things. But in reality, they affect each other more than most people realize. Understanding your emotional background and communication style will greatly improve your money habits and vice versa.
“Explore your relationship with money and your history with money,” Adam said. “Money is part of your relationship story. Consider how you grew up, your experiences, and how they affect you today.” To make headway with his clients, Adam said he tries to understand the perspective with which they come into both financial and romantic interactions. That way, he can help couples get to the root of their issues.
In a relationship, examining financial health means looking at a variety of factors. Couples need not only to get on top of the more objective pillars of good finances — a high credit score, minimal debt, etc. — but also how they feel about their finances. They need to learn how to comfortably communicate with each other about their financial situation.
“Schedule time to talk about your finances regularly,” Adam said. “Don’t ignore your accounts and put your head in the sand. Even if you had a bad month or spent more, talk about where you’re at.” Over time, you’ll get used to talking about money, and will find that you have a strong negative emotional response to it less frequently.
When couples act as a team when handling money, they’re able to get to a point of financial intimacy, unleashing another form of closeness within their relationship. “Intimacy is something we develop through shared experiences that build trust and communication,” Adam said. “You build intimacy when your partner acts as your teammate and has your back, and it’s the same for money. We can hold our respect and love for each other through financial intimacy.”
Adam is in the trenches with his clients every step of the way. He told us the story of one woman who said that she was frustrated with her husband and if their finances, particularly their debt, didn’t change within a few years, she’d want a divorce. That admission was a shock to the system in the marriage, and both partners became serious about working with Adam and tackling their financial challenges because they knew their relationship and family life was at stake. Adam said that the couple resolved five figures of debt in their work with him and strengthened their relationship, even calling each other their best friend in one coaching session months after that initial tough talk.
Instead of treating your significant other as a monetary antagonist, communicate with them with your shared goals in mind. Even if your priorities and perspectives are slightly different, understand that you’re both working toward the best financial circumstances for you as a couple. When you problem-solve together, you’re better able to collaborate and grow closer in the process.
Every couple is unique in both their romantic dynamics and their relationship with money. There is no one-size-fits-all fix to heal a couple’s financial issues. That’s why it’s important for couples to work with someone who approaches both their financial and relationship issues in a way that attempts to understand each partner’s perspective and goals. Only after understanding the couple’s perspectives and goals can Adam help them come up with clear and practical ways to improve their situation.
“I think couples need to first get comfortable talking about money and figure out their priorities,” Adam said. “You need to understand where you’re at financially and then decide what kind of account will help you achieve your concrete goals and have that financial intimacy you desire. You could have separate accounts, joint accounts, or some combination — there’s no one answer.”
While many couples wait until marriage to combine their finances and then immediately join their accounts — potentially even buying a house together — Adam doesn’t think the traditional path is the only way that works. “I disagree with the conventional wisdom and newlywed advice,” Adam told us. “It makes people make a guess motivated by misinformation or projected fears. It’s okay to dip your toes in the water and make a small joint commitment or investment — it doesn’t have to be buying a home together. Whatever suits you where you’re at financially and emotionally.”
However couples decide to organize their finances, they should make sure their choices are well-communicated, and come from a place of knowledge and goal-oriented thinking. Of course, making logical decisions about money can be difficult when the emotions of a real relationship get entangled in the conversation. Luckily, Adam is there to help couples see their financial blindspots, so they can have the monetary and romantic satisfaction they desire.