Building wealth together as a couple may be one of your most significant challenges.
Take a minute to notice even your reaction to the word wealth.
What is your reaction to the word wealth?
What is your partner's reaction to the word wealth?
What is the history behind each of your reactions to that word?
I know that I have mixed feelings about wealth, as does my wife. Having mixed feelings is not the problem. It's what we do with the range of feelings we have about wealth.
Helping couples build wealth together, I once thought would be easy. I was much younger and with less formal education. I can confidently say I don’t have it all figured out, and at the same time, I am comfortable with what I have learned and will continue to learn.
There are two perspectives at play here. The first is of me as husband and father of three boys. Second is the professional that has devoted his life to understanding the intersection of love and money and how to help couples navigate the journey together. The second has grown out of the many unanticipated roadblocks from the first.
Like cooking, we find common essential ingredients in many different dishes. The same is true of couples on the journey of wealth. At the same time, each essential ingredient has many variants, leaving room for endless combinations to create a wonderful relationship and wealth together.
5 Essential Ingredients To Building Wealth As A Couple
1. Work On Developing and Maintaining A Healthy Relationship
At the foundation of wealthy couples that thrive are healthy relationships. Sometimes those come more naturally, but for many others, they are earned, developed, and cultivated over the years of life.
Having a lens for healthy relationships and being reflective about the current status of your relationship health is a big step forward in the right direction. Yes, there are different ways to evaluate relationship health. One of my favorites is Attachment Styles.
Our attachment styles develop early in our childhood and set relationship patterns and expectations early on. These attachment patterns get carried with us into adulthood and do not change on their own. They can, however, evolve and change over time with help.
My book: The Healthy Love and Money Way: How The Four Attachment Styles Impact Your Financial Well-Being, is a great place to learn more about attachment styles.
2. Practice talking money together.
Take a moment to stop and reflect. How often have you seen or experienced what felt like a really safe, nurturing, and great money conversation? Let your mind wander back to your childhood and your family, then continue into adulthood.
If positive memories come forward from this time of reflection, what made it a safe, nurturing, and great money conversation? Invite your partner into a similar reflection.
Upon doing this exercise, many people realize they don’t have a lot of great reference points. Or the number of topics covered was too narrow.
Learning to talk money meaningfully, and purposefully is an act of financial intimacy. It takes practice and is built upon. However, if you have not seen safe, nurturing and great money conversations in action, you will have to use the power of your imagination to create a new way of talking money. Easy no, Impactful yes.
3. Review your finances together.
Financial transparency is a large part of building financial wealth together. Openly sharing financial information and progress helps each partner to contribute to the direction of their life and wealth building.
Wealthy Couples Talk About
- Spending and Saving
- Investments and Retirement Accounts
- Estate Planning
- Education Planning
It may be easier to talk about some money areas than others. We can have parts of our financial life we feel comfortable with and others we don’t. Like our bodies, you might feel proud of your legs but embarrassed about your chest. You get the point. In time we want to be able to see the whole picture and in the individual pieces of our financial life.
2. Discover Financial Understanding Gaps
Financial understanding gaps are psychological and physiological reactions that don’t let us see the picture clearly or fully. Some of these understanding gaps are nearly universal and a part of being human. Mental accounting is one example. Mental accounting happens when we say this money is for this purpose and this money is for that purpose. We have put money in two different accounts. We lose sight of the fact that money can be used for many purposes. Not just the category we gave it.
Another common financial understanding gap is the prevalence of psychological denial as a defense mechanism for our financial life. When parts of our financial life cause us distress consciously or unconsciously, we can deny our financial reality. I.e. my credit cards are not that bad, my spending is not that bad, how much I am working is not a problem, how I talk to my partner about money doesn’t matter, etc.
Accepting and exploring the different financial gaps we have and how to navigate them is essential to building wealth together. Part of psychological maturity is being able to accept and be curious about our own gaps in understanding. Morgan Housel addresses this deeply in his book The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed and Happiness.
5. Get Outside Help
Building wealth as a couple does not happen in isolation. None of us came out of the womb knowing how to build wealth. Each of us has psychological features and functions that can help us to build wealth over our lifetime. We don’t all use the same psychological features to build wealth.
Part of growth and development is getting support from others. There is a large world of different types of people and professionals to help you along any stage of the wealth-building journey together.
Finding the right people to work with might take some trial and error. Over time you can learn to identify the primary people you need on your team to build wealth together.
Common Professionals Include
- Certified Financial Planner
- Certified Public Accountant
- Estate Planning Attorney
- Couples Therapist
- Financial Therapist
- Therapy-Informed Financial Planning™
Many other specialized professionals may come into your life based on your journey of building wealth as a couple.
The journey to the land of wealth as a couple is definitely worth taking. It is not always easy, and there will be confusing and challenging times. At the same time, building wealth with your spouse is an adventure of a lifetime.
I know this from first-hand experience and my journey with my wife and wealth.
If you would like help building wealth as a couple, joining your team would be an honor. Feel free to schedule a 30-minute consult to learn more.
Wishing You Wealth and Well-Being,
Ed Coambs - Therapy-Informed Financial Planning™
MBA, MA, MS, CFP®, LMFT, CFT-I™
Curious About Your Attachment Style?
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