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Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Last Twilight post

Okay – this will be my last Twilight detour, I promise!

(might have spoilers below)

So today I borrowed Twilight and Breaking Dawn from a girlfriend. I thought that Breaking Dawn seemed so convoluted that I didn’t really bother to read all of it, just enough to get the happily-ever-after, vampire-style. As a fast reader and a ruthless skimmer, I pretty quickly went through Twilight‘s 400+ pages.

Stephanie Meyers really hit on a captivating storyline – I was very intrigued by the whole premise of the Edward-Bella (vampire-human) love story. But all the way I keep thinking, I really wish there was more character development (at the risk of sounding like an English teacher), especially in Bella.

I can’t really understand the love story between Bella and Edward – why does she love him so much? How can we tell it’s different from teenage infatuation? She is intoxicated by his physical beauty, and is grateful that he protects her… but what else? The love story seems a little more believable from Edward’s standpoint, only because he’s had 90 years as a vampire to understand himself (and really, who knows about vampires? Meyers’ characterization can be just as right as anybody else’s) – but Bella? I get the chemistry, I get the attraction, I just see Bella’s feelings for Edward as more passionate infatuation than deep, abiding love.

To be fair, although Meyers didn’t go into much of what happens after Bella becomes a vampire, it’s conceivable how her passion for Edward could develop into long-lasting love – whether bound by their experiences as vampires, or that they now have a baby, or that they will grow old stay young and unnaturally beautiful together.

But then again, Romeo and Juliet didn’t have time to develop a great, lasting, deep and abiding love either. Obviously, in fiction, lasting love is not necessary for the makings of a Great Love.

The best love story I’ve seen in a long time, portrayed by Hollywood, actually comes from Up. The first part of the movie is the best – bring tissues. Because you will tear up. (I spent the first 15 minutes of the movie trying to hold back tears because I will not cry in an animated movie!)

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Last night, on a lark, I decided I want to go out of town for a getaway this weekend. I thought it’d be a good way to get some R&R and go on a little adventure.

I bought up the idea to CB, who did not share my enthusiasm. Part of the reason is that I currently have more discretionary income than he does, and part of the reason is that I tend to do things more spur-of-the-moment than he does (but I still google for coupons, no matter how spur-of-the-moment! 😉 ).

To be honest, I was disappointed. There goes the romantic weekend escape. I try to think about how I’d feel if the situation were reversed. Might I feel uncomfortable that my significant other offered to pay for the bulk of the vacation? Might I feel that the trip, on such a short notice, wasn’t well-thought out?

I might, and CB probably does.

The rule of personal finance is that you can’t have everything you want, every time you want it. The rule of relationships is that you can’t have everything you want, every time you want it. (Hey! They sound suspiciously alike…).

So, I’m trying to deal with this situation, well, in a constructive manner: acknowledge my disappointment, empathize with his situation, work out a suitable compromise that will be fun and budget-friendly, and then move on.

After talking about it, we decided to go for a day trip instead. The good thing is that this weekend just got MUCH cheaper. Still traipsing around the beach. Still kayaking. Still having fun in the sun. Just minus the two nights of hotel and the additional food expenses.

This little exchange just clarified what a messy topic money can be in relationships. And this is only one weekend that we’re navigating.

How do people do it with much bigger decisions – Should one parent stay home? What sort of protection will the primary caregiver receive in exchange for giving up his/her earning ability? What house to buy? Which set of in-laws will get more help? How should inheritance be treated? Should there be a prenup? What’s a fair way to set up a prenup? So many questions. So many minefields!

Share your experiences on money and relationships in the comments!

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Here’s something that will move all the pf bloggy hearts out there:

My friend said that he and his girlfriend have a joint savings account to save for their wedding.

Happy to commit and financially responsible? He’s a catch! 🙂

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In defense of Valentine’s Day

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It seems as if a lot of bloggers are up-in-arms about this holiday, especially when the money aspect comes in. I’m feeling a little sorry for poor ol’ Valentine, so here’s my take. 😉

True, Valentine’s Day is just one day. And true, no one should feel pressured to spend exorbitant amounts of money on dinner. And true, there’s no rule that says you have to comply with an arbitrarily chosen date manufactured by the chocolate-candy-flowers industry to celebrate your love.

But I see it as kind of like, well, all other holidays:

  • We SHOULD remember that family is important, every day. But Thanksgiving and Christmas brings out the warm-fuzzies (often neglected because of the rat race).
  • We SHOULD love and appreciate our moms every day, but Mother’s Day shines the spotlight on moms everywhere.
  • We SHOULD remember that freedom isn’t free, but Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day reemphasize the sacrifices made by our soldiers, living and dead.

That’s why I say: even if your significant other insists that Valentine’s is a overly-commercialized day devoid of any actual meaning, do something nice. A picnic by the beach, a handwritten card, his favorite movie, a cake from her favorite bakery – the good feelings you get in return are worth multiples of what it’ll cost you to put together something simple and heartfelt.

People aren’t very good at being the best person they can be, all the time – we aren’t very good at being great children, or lovers, or citizens. We take things – people – for granted. Sometimes, we just need a reminder.

Which is what Valentine’s is. A reminder that love should be cherished and celebrated.

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Valentine’s Day + 6 years with boyfriend + personal finance blog = 10 things I’ve learned about love, money, and myself!

10. I can have fun without lots (or harder, but still possible, any) money: So many of my happiest moments with CB are cuddling in bed and watching a movie on hulu.com. Hugs? Are free.

9. But I have to be more creative: When I have $50 or $100 or more to spend – having a fun-filled day is easy: theme park, museum, or dinner. Perhaps a trip to go kayaking or a weekend get-away. Having a $10-$20 budget means that I have to be creative about places to go.

8. It’s easy to say money doesn’t matter, but it’s not true: Money is like air – you notice how desperately you need it when it’s not there. And being together and broke in your 20s might be romantically bohemian, but being together and broke in your 30s or 40s often results in… not together.

7. It’s more romantic when the guy pays for dinner: I hope I didn’t just set feminism back 100 years, but it IS more romantic. Just like it’s more romantic when the guy opens doors, pulls out chairs, and walks on the curb side of the street (CB does this, and I absolutely love it).

6. Money reflects values, and it takes adjustment to see the other side: I love going out to eat. Good food = something worth spending on. CB loves electronics. So I try to be mindful of that fact. Dinner at Chez Swanky might be good enough for me to spend $40 on, but not for CB. So, I deal with it.

5. Fighting about money sucks: Boyfriend and I have had maybe one fight about money, which sucked.

4. Fighting about money isn’t really about money: It really reflects our priorities and expectations, both of which can be out of sync between two people. Money is just the conduit through which we express those feelings. It doesn’t help that feelings of self-worth, accomplishment, and all that stuff is wrapped in money.

3. I want a (fair, reasonable, executed-by-two-happy-in-love-people) prenuptial agreement: I just do. I did my high school presentation on prenuptial agreements – you can imagine the excitement in class. It makes me feel more secure. Does this mean that I won’t be as committed to my marriage? I hope not.

2. When I’m married, I want to have a dual-income household: We don’t have to make equal amounts, but each of us has to make SOMETHING (of course, barring layoffs and illness and such). It’s far too frightening for me to go without my own income, and it’s far too stressful to be responsible for the well-being of an entire family. My mom did that for a while, and I think that was one of the most stressful periods I’ve ever seen my parents in. Ever.

1. Underneath it all, I still believe in love, marriage, and (maybe) the baby carriage (and a lots of long-term investable assets and positive cash flow!): Despite a penchant for seeking out dissections and critiques of the modern institution known as marriage, along with dismal statistics about equality, divorce, and happiness, I still want to build my life with someone whom I love and respect. I still think we will be happy. Optimism? Still got it.

What are your 10 things?

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On a sunny weekend morning, as the whole day stretched out in front of us like a long embrace, CB turned to me and asked, “would you be poor with me?”

If I was feeling romantic and dreamy, I might’ve answered, “yes, because I love you,” and then added a caveat about “but you won’t be poor.” But all this personal finance must’ve seeped into my subconcious, or maybe half-asleep I am more honest and less tactful than I might’ve been awake, because I managed to look straight into his beautiful big eyes and said, “I don’t want to be poor with anyone.”

I thought about that less-than-romantic (but very-honest exchange) after I read posts by Madame X and Meg on the topic of the “accidental woman breadwinner.”

Reading this article made me realize that I don’t want to be an “accidental” breadwinner in my relationship, just as I don’t want to become an “accidental” stay-at-home wife or mom. “Accidental” implies a lack of choice, a lack of introspection, a lack of conscious decision. “Accidental” spells “resentment down the road” to me.

In marriage vows people promise to stay together “for better or worse, for richer or poorer.” I believe in those vows very strongly, but I also don’t subscribe to the theory that “all you need is love.” I’ve seen the tension that bad finances bring to even the strongest of marriages. I’ve seen it with my parents. I’ve seen it with several of my mom’s friends. And what I saw scared me.

Maybe that’s why I’ve always envisioned that both my future husband and I will work, even after we have kids (one, maybe two). One of us may take a part-time schedule for a year while the kids are young, but I don’t see either of us taking a longer hiatus from our careers. A satisfying career is important to me, and I’d imagine, to my future husband as well. Maintaining financial autonomy is important to me. Being able to care for my family if anyone should happen to my spouse is important to me.

The topic of whether to have a stay-at-home parent is a sensitive one – I don’t think there’s one solution for all families. It’s a personal decision. My thoughts to this subject is influenced by my mother, who has always worked. In fact, she left me in the care of grandparents for FOUR years when I was young to work overseas. I did not see her (or my dad) from the age of 5 to 9. And I turned out okay. Given my experience, I think I can probably manage any guilt I will have as a working mother.

So, no, I don’t want to be poor. Not by myself and not with anyone else. No one knows what tomorrow brings, but I hope that by making smart financial decisions and by marrying a partner who shares my priorities (and whom I love and respect, of course – divorce is a huge money drain!), I will improve the odds of having a “richer” life instead of a poorer one.

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Ever since I first sniffed at a bottle of Marc Jacobs perfume at a department store makeup counter, I’ve coveted the lush fragrance. The scent reminds me of a huge bouquet of gardenias floating on water. I kept thinking maybe I should just get it for myself, but the $80 price tag always held me back a little. Every time I go into Sephora I’d dab some on my wrists.

marcjacobs

Well, last week when CB and I were at Marshalls, he saw a Marc Jacobs gift set marked down to $35. It’s the exact same as what’s retailing at Macy’s right now (3.4 fl oz Eau de Parfum Spray, 5.1 fl oz Body Lotion, Deluxe Mini Perfume – minus the tote).

So of course I was excited that CB showed me the set. He said he was going to get it for me for our anniversary – which means I have to wait until February to get it?! (But it’s okay. That will give him a chance to wrap the gift). He was a bit disappointed because he wouldn’t be able to surprise me, but it would’ve been quite difficult for him to smuggle the box out of the store without me noticing!

I am happy because:
1. He remembers our anniversary.
2. He remembers from our past conversations (or my hint-dropping) that I like Marc Jacobs perfume.
3. I’ll be wearing “lush gardenias and creamy musks” for our anniversary dinner!
4. It’s a fantastic deal.

In one fell swoop, CB won over both the romantic AND the bean-counter in me. Love – ain’t it grand?

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