February 2023: Expert Advise — Learn to make peace with money and love: Meet Adam Kol, the Couples Financial Coach


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Love + Money: How to Decide Whether to Stay or Go

The Couples Financial Coach Adam Kol knows: "In relationships, money is a top stressor and cause of divorce. So how can you sift through whether this will be the case for you and your partner? In this article, I’ll tell you. Here are key considerations and money talks to have that will help you decide whether to ... stay or go."

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A Note from Hope Katz Gibbs, author, Why DivorceI had the privilege of meeting Adam Kol when my PR client Marguerita Cheng, CFP® Pro, featured him on her weekly finance show Margaritas with Marguerita. What an amazing episode it was — for as a Couples Financial Coach and Certified Mediator, Adam’s knowledge, warmth, and experience were immediately apparent.

I am thrilled to feature him here as an expert for our audience, for I know anyone in a relationship will appreciate his insights into love and money. “I help couples make sure that the money conversation doesn’t get in the way, leading to more peace, love, and cash,” says the Financial Advisor who received his law degree from Duke and his MA in tax from NYU. “My mission is to bring an equity and social justice lens to my work.”

In this episode, you’ll learn: 

  • The #1 mistake couples make
  • Top myths around relationships and money
  • The better choice: joint accounts or separate accounts?
  • The answer to the age-old question: My partner and I have different values and experiences with money, so what do we do about this?
  • And, the big question of the day — what should couples do with their during the coronavirus pandemic?

Discover more:

Scroll down for an article by Adam on WhyDivorce.us.

Money Talks to Decide Whether to Stay or Go

By Adam Kol, The Couples Financial Coach

In relationships, money is a top stressor and cause of divorce. So how can you sift through whether this will be the case for you and your partner? In this article, I’ll tell you. Keep reading for key considerations and money talks to have that will help you decide whether to…stay or go.

First, financial conflict is normal, can be overcome, and may even be healthy if handled well. Let’s say you’re anxious because you like nicer things than your partner does. This is not a relationship-ender. This is a conversation starter!

Focus on getting curious and understanding each other. There are many options for accommodating different preferences or incomes within a relationship.

Many of my clients (I’m a Couples Financial Coach) say that they and their partners are just so different. Sometimes this is true. Often, though, they don’t know how to have constructive money talks. Blaming it on your difference can help you to justify this struggle to yourself.

But here’s the truth: That’s a cop-out. In fact, different views about money can actually be complementary. The spender can teach the saver how to let loose and live life. The saver can teach the spender how a little planning can go a long way toward less anxiety and more fun.

So, what types of conversations can reveal deal breakers?

I’d say that it’s more than a non-conversation is the #1 deal breaker. If your partner flat refuses to talk about and work on money stuff, then you may be at a relationship dead end.

Now, this is not me saying to give up after one try. However, money is uncomfortable for so many of us.

If your partner seems unwilling, ask again.

Still nothing? See how you can take ownership of any uncomfortable money dynamics between you two. For example, maybe you’ve avoided the topic, too. Or you got frustrated when they made an accidental money mistake. Taking responsibility for your role in the uncomfortable dynamic can help disarm them.

Another tip: When asking to (re)start the money conversation, focus on how much you care for them. Share the life you see possible together and how handling your money as a team can help you to achieve it. Invite them to be part of a dialogue that will change your lives and relationship for the better.

If they resist, get curious. Try your best to understand where they’re coming from. Make sure they know that you care. Look within to see if you might be misinterpreting something or getting reactive.

Wait a week and try again. If they start to open up, then that’s a terrific sign. However, if they continue to refuse, you need to ask yourself if this is the right person.

After all, money is a key part of our lives. We work for it 40+ hours per week. We pay bills regularly. We buy things all the time.

You can’t ignore it. And you wouldn’t want to. After all, handled well, it can make your life so much better.

Now for the key, specific money talks to decide whether to stay or go.

They’re some of the same key talks we already know that we need to have!

For example:

  • How many kids do you want?
  • Where do you see yourself living?
  • What is the standard of living you want to have?
  • What are your values around work, your career, earning money, etc.?

Money impacts each of these topics and more. Diving into them can help you sort out whether you two fit. If you’re feeling courageous, you might even ask about how you’d want to care for each other in case the relationship doesn’t work out (!).

Also, it’s always helpful to pay attention to how your partner shows up and reacts. For example, are they willing to apologize when they make a mistake? Do they ask questions about you? Do they respect and care about your point of view?

As for what’s not a deal-breaker!

People showing love in different money-related ways. For example, maybe you expect your partner to spend lots of money on you.

We’ve been “taught” that this is one important way to show love. But not everyone shows their love with money. Or they may not have a lot of extra money. So consider paying more attention to how much care they show for you.

I once met a woman at an event who wanted to pick my brain. She asked if she should keep seeing this guy who doesn’t seem to want to spend much money on her. So I asked her a few questions. She then realized that she was associating big spending with a big interest in her. And when he didn’t spend big, she wondered if he cared about her.

I asked her if there were other ways he could show the care that would vibe with her. She responded: Yeah! If he put together a picnic, I wouldn’t care what it cost! If I saw that he was putting in the effort to make a great date, that’s most important.

Of course, you need not feel the same as she did. But remember to keep an open mind and be willing to let life and people show you something new!

What about you? What have money-related conversations helped you decide whether to stay or go? If you have questions, send me an email.