THE BIG THREE Local experts offer engaged couples advice on family, finances and faith. written by Melanie Crownover
here’s more to marriage than a dream dress and beautiful locale for the nuptials. When the honeymoon is over, experts say there are three things that can test the limits of a relationship: family, finances and faith. These local authorities on lasting love have a few suggestions for facing those topics head-on.
At Tupelo Marriage and Family Counseling, owner Jessica Roberts sees couples in all stages of marriage, from those about to tie the knot to longtime spouses. “I think a lot of times if my patients in long-term relationships had talked openly about possible problem areas early on, [they could have avoided] issues later,” Roberts said. “You don’t think about a lot of these things when you’re dating because it’s all fun with little responsibility. It gets so much more complicated when you marry.” Roberts offers these tips for cultivating healthy relationships. Open up about the past. Meeting the family and friends of your affianced only gives you a glimpse into their background. Talk about
10 INVITATION | June/July 2018
your childhood and the relationships you saw growing up that have colored what you think marriage (and family) should be. Remember that those same experiences have affected how you resolve problems, as well as how you deal with conflict and emotions. Aim for balance. When you’re at the beginning of a new life together, it’s hard to imagine needing personal space. “It’s not healthy to put all of your eggs in one basket emotionally if you want to be happy,” she said. “You have to realize early on that even though you’re a couple, that person is not solely responsible for your happiness.” Roberts encourages couples to maintain individual interests and activities throughout their relationship. Make time for each other by keeping a couple’s calendar. Schedule a date night. Make a note to do something nice for your spouse. Meet for morning coffee or a “couple break” during the day, especially when life gets more complex. “People look at me like I’m crazy, but you even need to jot down sex on that calendar sometimes,” Roberts said. “When you’re changing diapers at 2 in the morning, working all day, there’s a basket of laundry and
pile of bills, it’s easy to put off connecting with each other regularly. Couples need that if they want to stay together.”
For the Love of Money
Helping clients at all stages of life with financial planning is an everyday duty for Lynn Keith, vice president of wealth management at BancorpSouth in Tupelo. Here is some of her advice for newlyweds and engaged couples. Be honest and realistic. “Talking about finances can be an uncomfortable thing, but money is one of the top 10 reasons people get a divorce,” Keith said. “It’s very important to start early and talk about them on a regular basis.” Talk about whether you are a spender or a saver, your long- and short-term goals, and how you plan to get there as a team. Get organized. Start by gathering your personal bills to create a consolidated budget. Do you want to have individual or joint accounts? How will you handle keeping up with individual spending and balancing the checkbook? Set up a record-keeping system with which you’re both comfortable. Make sure your assets and accounts are titled correctly