Dear readers, sorry I have been a bit quiet. Well, not entirely quiet just not as active on the blogging scene as I had planned to this Christmas. Well, a few things happened. The main one was that my lovely partner, Neil, and I, got engaged. He doesn’t have a nickname yet. Maybe I should call him Mr Ute Man as he drives a sturdy D-Max (he is not into luxury vehicles). But I suspect before too long he will be Mr Frugal Ears. Perhaps that is enough.
Yep, and so was he. Through heartbreak on both sides, we found each other. It is sort of a miracle. We met online (more common than you might think these days), but we didn’t hit it off at first. I thought he needed a country lass (before you say anything, my mum has hinted that I was being a snob). Meanwhile, he thought on the first date that I looked like an Oompa Loompa. True story.
Yet we became friends, then best friends, and after a few months, we started dating. In my search for the gold standard, I recognised that he is an honest and decent man with solid values. He jokes that he is not just the gold standard – he is platinum. Well, I’m wearing his ring now so definitely there is something pretty precious going on.
Before I return to blogging about Christmas and the festive season, I would like to share a few thoughts about abundance, self-worth and relationships.
- All that glitters is not gold. My ex-boyfriend took me out, at least initially, to nice restaurants. He looked pretty classy in his tailored suits, but in the end, I realised that his behaviour was crass and that he did not model the integrity he talked about. Neil did not impress so well on the first date, but let me just say that this man is the real deal. Through and through he doesn’t just talk; he delivers.
- We share similar frugal values. He stops the car so that I can forage for wild fennel and keeps an eye out for wild plums. He has introduced me to hawthorne and knows where some quince trees grow wild. He picks up items for me from the Buy Nothing Project. He bought me clothes from an op shop. He likes to shop at ALDI and Costco. He is just as happy with a homemade meal than going out. He is handy and fixes things around my apartment including putting in new cost-effective LED globes and making sure my bicycle works okay so that I can cycle to work smoothly. His lovely parents give me eggs from their chooks, and I forage for mushrooms on their property. We are going caravanning over Christmas.
- I have a lovely, sparkly ring. It is not a big expensive diamond (definitely not that diamond ring from Costco worth half a million dollars I spotted recently). We discussed rings. I was strongly in favour of only a wedding band when the time was right. This is because I believe that most diamond engagement rings are overpriced, a poor investment, and unless it has a Kimberly process certificate, possibly unethical. [Caveat, once upon a time I had diamond rings that I liked very much – but my views have changed.] Neil, however, really wanted to follow Beyonce’s advice and ‘put a ring on it’ (did I mention this man is gold?) In the end, we chose a lovely prasiolite (green amethyst) white gold ring created by a jeweller listed on Etsy. It was a LOT cheaper than buying at a jewellery store, was custom made to my size and arrived via FedEx in two weeks. The quality is excellent. I wanted a green stone as Neil has green eyes (yep, I’m a romantic and so is he). I really love it, and when I look at it I smile.
- We both believe that marriage is more important than a wedding. It is easy, so very easy, to get caught up in the glitz of the big event. Just type ‘wedding’ into Pinterest and you will see what I mean. The last wedding I went to in March was so incredibly beautiful, and so was the bride. It took my breath away. But the wedding is only one day, whereas the couple will (hopefully) have a lifetime together. I see so many couples who start a life in debt because of their wedding, or else who focus so much on the event that they don’t have an idea about the relationship once married. A colleague at work and her husband conduct pre-marriage courses for couples about to get married at their church, and she has some really insightful views on how to ensure there is agreement on financial, family and communication issues before the couple walks down the aisle. I really want to put as much emphasis on family and relationship building as the big day itself.
- We both understand the importance of making the most of life. Both of us have had life-threatening illnesses – his worse than mine. We are all healthy and happy now, but both of us understand how short life is, and the importance of making the most of it. Which explains why, having found each other, we are not mucking around.
- We will have a frugal wedding that is a genuine celebration, not something that just looks pretty in the pictures. We see the wedding itself as a time to celebrate our love with the family and friends who are important to us. We do not intend to get into debt to achieve this, and we know that our close friends would not expect us to spend large dollars to impress. We have set a low budget and will be looking for innovative and creative ways to work within it. This will mean involving friends, family and our community in ways that will (hopefully) bring us together rather than apart. But above all, we want it to be FUN. I mean, honestly, how many weddings have you been to that are actually fun?
- We will have a prenuptial agreement. This is not because I don’t trust Neil, or think that he would let me down in any way. But both of us come to a new relationship with different assets and children from past relationships. We need to think about what is fair and right, and our vision for going forward. I worried that a recent High Court decision might have made prenups invalid in Australia. My lovely lawyer, Brooke from Phelps Reid, said that the key issue is to ensure it is drafted properly, in a way that demonstrates it is with the full agreement of both parties and that there is no coercion.
Happy to share this news. 2018 is going to be a big year, an exciting year with of consolidating new beginnings. I can feel it already.