A couple’s financial compatibility is becoming just as important as  physical and intellectual compatibility when it comes to young relationships, according to research published from Northwestern Mutual.

Younger generations, including Generation Z (ages 18-26) and millennials (ages 27-42), have been taking their financial situation more seriously compared to their parents’ generations. The same holds true for their relationships.

Of 2,740 adults surveyed for Northwestern Mutual’s 2023 Planning & Progress Study, 35% said financial compatibility is more important than physical compatibility. The younger generations believe in it more strongly as 49% of Generation Z said financial compatibility supersedes physical compatibility while 40% of millennials agreed.

On the flipside, 35% of Generation X (ages 43-57) thought financial compatibility was more important than physical compatibility and 30% of baby boomers and older, those age 58 and over, agreed.

“Relationships are already difficult enough as people meet and start a family or marriage and finances can be very detrimental to that if there is not an agreed upon path,” said David Hood, a Northwestern Mutual wealth management advisor based in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Many younger people also put financial compatibility ahead of intellectual compatibility as 43% of Gen Z and 35% of millennials said it was the more important. Meanwhile, 32% of Generation X and 35% of baby boomers and older agreed.

Given the importance of money and finance in a relationship, the timing of when to have the discussion about money is more important. For many in the survey, 42%, the best time is after a couple is serious but well ahead of marriage or living together.

The older generations have an easier time broaching the conversation with 49% of Generation X and 47% of baby boomers and older generations saying that was the best time, which was slightly more than their Generation Z and millennial counterparts. In those two categories 38% of Generation Z and 32% of millennials agreed. Hood attributed this disparity to a certain level of shyness that exists with the younger generations that is not there with the older ones.

“It’s a hard conversation to have,” he said. “But I think older boomers and Generation X have already been through life long enough where they are not shy in having those conversations in their relationship early on.”

Life experience has a positive impact on couples as those who stay together longer and iron out any financial complications that existed earlier in the relationship. In addition, money is less of a strain on older couples, according to the survey.

Of those surveyed, 34% of Generation Z said that finances are a significant challenge or is the single most difficult issue they deal with in their relationship. Forty-two percent of millennials agree, however that number declines the older the person gets as only 27% of Generation X agree and 17% of baby boomers and older agree.

“I think it eventually alleviates because of their financial well-being,” Hood said. “I just think as they get older there might be more money and they’re able to overcome if they’ve stopped bad habits.”

A financial advisor still serves an important function when it comes to a young couple just starting their relationship and throughout as well. They can help navigate the two who might have different financial perspectives.

“As a third party, it’s easy for me to ask questions that they haven’t even thought about and it really helps bring it to a head quicker because I’m a third party,” he said. “It’s not them talking to each other, it’s a third party or a professional talking them through it.”

The advisor can also help as a couple proceeds along their financial path even if they both do not share the same financial habits.

“They have to understand that sometimes they’re not always going to agree on everything and that’s ok,” Hood said. “It doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing.”