For some women, husband's death like a breath of fresh air

TOKYO —

“Here, read this.”

“Mr A” is a 56-year-old real estate agent. What did his wife of 25 years want him to read?

She handed him a recent issue of the women’s weekly Josei 7. What was this, now? “How women come to terms with their husbands’ death.” Complacently, Mr A ran his eyes over the copy. He knew in advance, of course, what the bereaved would say. The usual thing – how sad they were, how they lost all zest for life how hard it was to manage alone. His preconceptions hardly prepared him for the truth. Most of the widows in the magazine’s survey – 62%, to be precise – were happy. Marriage was a prison; widowhood was escape, freedom, a new life.

Mr A frowned. Why was his wife showing him this? It was hard not to get the point. The article reflected her feelings. He’d better wake up, before it was too late.

The story appears in Shukan Post (March 7), which follows up Josei 7’s research with some interviews of its own. Sure enough, bereavement turns out to be far from synonymous with grief.

“There was a couple in our neighborhood,” a Tokyo woman in her 60s tells the magazine. “Getting on toward 70, I’d say, and yet they seemed like a couple of lovebirds, always together. Then he died, and no sooner was the official mourning over than she opened a snack bar. ‘Now,’ she’d chortle to her customers, ‘I can do what I want.’ Turns out she’d been saving secretly all the years of her marriage. She had her plans ready. She and the customers laugh over the joys of widowhood.”

“Yumi,” 50, was widowed early, her husband dying of a brain hemorrhage several years ago. He was an “elite salaryman,” totally absorbed in his work. She was a typical housewife – cooking, cleaning, raising the kids. They lived in company housing, which meant being surrounded constantly by company personnel and their spouses. The company hierarchy was as much in force in the apartment building as at the office. The first thing Yumi did after her husband’s death was move out – with what relief can easily be imagined. And then? She dyed her hair, went in for nail art, bought herself a miniskirt, thinking to herself all the while, “This is life. This is what I missed all those years.”

“All the widows I know,” writer Ryoko Ozawa, 76, tells Shukan Post, “perked up when their husbands died. I don’t know any sad widows.”

The Josei 7 article that pierced Mr A’s blinders asked its survey respondents what was hardest to bear about widowhood. It wasn’t, in fact, all fun and games. But the problems cited were mostly economic. Not loneliness, not lost love, just lost income and the attendant struggles and hardships.

A rude awakening for men. They hardly know how their wives are smoldering inside, the resentment that builds up over the years beneath the placid exterior. There’s worse to come. One thing husbands typically fear as they age and face death, Shukan Post says, is the advent of other men in their wives’ lives.

“Until my husband died 10 years ago, he was the only man I’d ever known,” says a woman in her early 60s. “Well, he died, and I started keeping company with a man 10 years younger than me. For the first time in my life, I actually enjoyed sex. We’re still together. Sometimes we go off to secluded hot springs and enjoy mixed bathing.”

“Many women,” says Ozawa, “sacrifice their lives to housework, child-rearing, caring for aged parents and in-laws. Their husbands’ death comes like a liberation. Free at last. They travel, go to the theater, play golf.”

The marriages sketched here, being those of older people, are in the traditional mold. The younger, less traditional generation may have arranged things more happily for themselves. Thirty years from now, will a husband’s death still feel to the majority of women like a breath of fresh air?

  • -11

    felix88

    And people still want to get married? All those women are past the wall anyway

  • 18

    Tiffany Jean Shimbo

    I think this article misses to explain why the women are happy... That most marriages aren't romantic, and how salarymen typically have mistresses and use the sex industry a lot. I really don't think the new generation has this problem though now. Most people I know getting married are very much in love and their men behave because now things like hostess bars soaplands and what not look really desperate. I think their pink industry is reporting loss now...? That's great news for society if you ask me.

  • 0

    felix88

    Yoshiwara is still prosper

  • 18

    sensei258

    Sad that the idea of "love" was barely mentioned in this article. I'm sure there are many who are heartbroken at the loss of their husbands.

  • 11

    Mocheake

    Shows what kind of person you are when you feel happy about your "beloved' spouse's death.

  • 24

    Stewie

    Then there is the other side of the story. Reminds me of the old joke..." why do men usually die before their wives?....because they want to."

  • -1

    TrevorPeace1

    Hard to judge until you've walked in their shoes, submissive and obedient, culturally insignificant.

  • 4

    Olrik

    But I guess it works the other way too - some husbands pray for the old bat to kick off so they can play the field a bit in freedom without having to pay her half or more of everything...

  • 5

    Maria

    For the first time in my life, I actually enjoyed sex.

    This is key. With a lot of these complaints about women not wanting to have sex any more after they've had kids (even once the long months of 24-hour care-giving have eased) nobody ever suggests that perhaps a lot of them just use that as an easy excuse because they just don't enjoy sex with their husband. It seems obvious, though. And that is terribly sad.

  • 3

    NathalieB

    But I guess it works the other way too - some husbands pray for the old bat to kick off so they can play the field a bit in freedom without having to pay her half or more of everything...

    I think you will find many salarymen in Japan DO already play the field regardless of their wife and DONT pay her half or more of anything if she actually has the gumption to call him out on it.

    My best friends marriage is the latest casualty of the pink industry in Japan. Thank God she wasnt Japanese and had somewhere she could go. No woman should have to put up with that going on right under her nose while her "husband" (and I use that word in its loosest sense) laughs in her face thinking there is nothing she can do about it as he has all the money. If shes going to hold back the goods on him, (as many J women do) then thats a different matter. But for someone who simply wants a loving marriage and family and throws everything she has into supporting that, its heartbreaking.

  • -4

    felix88

    having sex with the same person get old.

  • 23

    harvey pekar

    A lot of dudes may be jerks, but so are chicks. I'm guessing the dead husband sees death as a new lease on life, too!

    The poor poor housewife is free to leave at any time, get a job, make her own money, and be happy. You stay in the situation, you're just as much to blame as the person who put you in it.

  • 2

    Naoki Kumagai

    The paternalism of old Japan is the cause.

  • -4

    NathalieB

    The poor poor housewife is free to leave at any time, get a job, make her own money, and be happy. You stay in the situation, you're just as much to blame as the person who put you in it.

    In Japan? As a single mother? Perhaps someone who has no current skills as she gave up work 10 years ago to raise children at HIS insistence? Someone who cant now even begin to earn enough to support herself and her two children and you can bet there is no way Mr Suzuki, who is now burned that his wife had the balls to tell him to stick it, is going to giv her any help?

  • 10

    smithinjapan

    "‘Now,’ she’d chortle to her customers, ‘I can do what I want.’ Turns out she’d been saving secretly all the years of her marriage. She had her plans ready. She and the customers laugh over the joys of widowhood.”

    Sorry, but many of the woman in this article seem pretty sick to me. Marriage is a prison if you MAKE it a prison (either for the man or the woman). Willingly slipping into some traditional role and hating it for years is YOUR choice. Celebrating the death of a spouse or other loved one is disgusting.

  • 1

    Jimizo

    'Most people I know getting married are very much in love and their men behave because now things like hostess bars soaplands and what not look really desperate'

    I'm not sure there has been any shift in the perception of soaplands, hostess bars or cabaret clubs among the younger generation. If fewer people are going to these places, it is probably more to do with the economy. Company money often used to pay for visits to hostess bars and cabaret clubs, and companies these days are less inclined to pay out for visits to a 'second place' after the izakaya. I know bosses in my place tend to get grumpy at anything over ¥5,000 per head. Conversations in the izakaya with married and single men in their twenties, thirties and forties at my place of work and outside tell me that there is no shame attached to visiting cabaret clubs ( if women are present ) and cabaret clubs and soaplands ( if women are not present ).

  • 30

    Kabukilover

    One day my cellphone ran out of power. I could not connect with my wife. When I finally got home I plugged in the cellphone and called her. She was in tears. She thought something had happened to me. Later she said, "I thought could it be? This wonderful life with you has suddenly ended." i knew I had to live long for her sake. I also knew I had to dump ancient cellphone and get a new one, which I did.

  • 6

    harvey pekar

    Hey NathalieB, nice to meet you.

    I totally understand your point. It's not easy for a single mother in Japan who for one reason or another has no other skills beyond housework. In Japan, when you divorce, there are some cases where you get a lump sum of 2-3 mil yen, and possibly 50% of retirement savings. Plus, if the guy is cheating, the lover may also have to pay 2-3 mil yen. And sometimes, the wife can get the lump some and a compensation amount for the emotional grief. If there are kids, the wife usually receives a substantial amount for child support. Even in Japan. The wife isn't totally destitute and helpless. I know divorced Japanese single mothers who got a certificate in computers and got a decent job.

    Money isn't everything, but the struggles of being a single mother beats throwing years of your life away and having a kid grow up in a potentially negative environment.

  • 18

    Frungy

    I have no sympathy for these women. If married life is making you unhappy, then get a divorce. The simple truth is that they don't want a divorce because it'll mean they have to get a job, cut back on luxuries, etc. Their husband has become an object to them, a wallet from which they draw cash, and when he dies they get a big payout.

    Now I'm not claiming that this is one-sided. Equally, some Japanese men treat their wives as objects, as incubators for their babies, as a cooking and cleaning service, etc.

    Treating any person as an object is evil. We don't know what these men were like, but we definitely know what the women in the article are like.

  • 10

    Jaymann

    It's storys like this that makes one understand and support men's extra-marital affairs. After humping away in the office for life (essentially trading in all their hopes and dreams) to support a family men must face some heartless wench who wants nothing more than for him to die. If you didn't want that life - don't marry the go-getter type. Better yet, get your own job, stay single and die a spinster.

  • 8

    smithinjapan

    Frungy: "Treating any person as an object is evil. We don't know what these men were like, but we definitely know what the women in the article are like."

    Agree with you on this point 100%, and your comment in general. I could have sympathy for a woman, or man for that matter, who was in an abusive situation (and by that I mean domestic violence to the point where they felt literally jailed and could not come out), but on the whole the women in this article are vile. People who say, "A woman getting divorced and being single in Japan??" as a justification for staying in an unloving marriage and waiting for the man to die are just helping feed the problem by supporting the stereotypes.

    I'm all for people 'starting again' or doing new things and trying to move on when a spouse or loved one dies, but to wait for that death and then celebrate it, and LAUGH about it as some of these women do... that's just sick.

  • 6

    Tessa

    The simple truth is that they don't want a divorce because it'll mean they have to get a job, cut back on luxuries, etc. Their husband has become an object to them, a wallet from which they draw cash, and when he dies they get a big payout.

    I am in absolute agreement with you, and I should know. In my work and personal life in Japan, I have become acquainted with hundreds of Japanese housewives, most of them college educated. Many of them have no love or respect for their husbands at all, regard them as ATMs, and are only waiting for them to die. And yes, they freely admit that they would rather stay in loveless marriages than lose the easy money and the status of being a Mrs. rather than a mere Miss. Never in my life have I come across so many lazy, over-qualified housewives. Japan would change in a day if those women actually got off their butts and worked for a living, but heaven forbid they should have to put down their bon-bons and pick up the Help Wanted sections of the newspaper.

  • 15

    samwatters

    @Jaymann. You have describe my situation perfectly. When I was 44 (I am now 55), found myself in a dead-end marriage with a woman who was colder than the fish on display at your local supermarket. We have a child who was in elementary school at the time that I was afraid of losing contact with and her mother was informing us that she would be moving in soon. I was in hell. But instead of getting bitter, I kept my job, spent most of my nights working on a secret business that become profitable and, better yet, put money directly in my hands that she couldn't touch. I never said a bad thing about my wife to our child choosing instead to keep a happy face. The story has a happy ending. Two years ago, I sold the company for a nice sum and walked out on my (now) ex-wife after our child entered college. I made sure that my ex-wife receives the same amount of money she received while we were together and also made sure that our child knew this arrangement. I have never been happier, my child understands and respects me and my wife eats her heart out every month when she gets her month allowance which is one-third of what I live on. Whoever said living well is the best revenge knew what they were talking about! And when I die, it will be with a smile on my face!

  • 4

    bravoshan

    What a revelation! I sincerely think the same scenario applies to both genders as well and very much connected to the quality of their relationship. I am exposed to a very strong Asian family values.....marital values to be precise. I have never stayed in any other countries other my home country for more than 4 months in continuously...so pardon me, I am not aware personally how Japanese couples view each other's company. My experiences in life revealed to me, for man and woman to co-exist in this world happily and peacefully,.........they need to respect and value each others feelings physically and emotionally! Especially for couples, intimate knowledge of their partner and mutual respect for their needs comes as primary requirement! Ignoring this in the names of equality or ego or tradition or any other creative names will only bring destruction to a beautiful relationship called "marriage"! Or else, each partner will suffer in silence, will plan for a revenge, extra marital affairs will crop up and nobody we live in peace with each other's company! In my humble opinion, money, physical attraction and security alone should not a deciding factor for two individual to tie the knot in the name of love! Love would not exist there....each other's company will be a burden! We will try to save the marriage for the sake of tradition, to satisfy family members and children. But inside, we will be dying prematurely!

  • 3

    zootmoney

    That most marriages aren't romantic, and how salarymen typically have mistresses and use the sex industry a lot

    I think you will find many salarymen in Japan DO already play the field regardless of their wife and DONT pay her half or more of anything if she actually has the gumption to call him out on it.

    Those comments seem like a hackneyed stereotyping of a Japanese "salaryman", itself a term which seems to encompass many millions of every working Japanese male outside of farmers and those doing "arubaito" jobs.

  • 7

    Michael Grant

    “Many women,” says Ozawa, “sacrifice their lives to housework, child-rearing, caring for aged parents and in-laws. Their husbands’ death comes like a liberation. Free at last. They travel, go to the theater, play golf.” -

    I see. This must be a new phenomenon: dead husband = housework, child-rearing, caring for aged parents and in-laws all magically disappear!? How does that work?

    Seems to me there would still be children to rear. There would still be housework to do. And the aged parents would still be aged...Arguably, only the obligation to the in-laws goes away...

  • -1

    Kent Mcgraw

    Perhaps if Japanese men respected women, it would not be this way.

  • 1

    timbo

    In Japan there are a lot of loveless marriages, which I think both women and men realize. It's not the only place on the planet where you'll find this. In fact, the notion of romance in marriage is relatively new in most societies. I would not say these marriages are devoid of mutual respect in all cases.

    Judging also from a few comments here, the gloating that some foreigners display at this fact cannot hide the complete hypocrisy of many, particularly males, who boast of their triumphs with married women here while maintaining relationships of their own. Naturally their girlfriends/wives are usually unaware of their foreign partners' messing around.

  • 5

    tmarie

    In Japan? As a single mother? Perhaps someone who has no current skills as she gave up work 10 years ago to raise children at HIS insistence? Someone who cant now even begin to earn enough to support herself and her two children and you can bet there is no way Mr Suzuki, who is now burned that his wife had the balls to tell him to stick it, is going to giv her any help?

    Is this a joke? HIS insistence? Most of the J women I know can't wait to get married so they can stop working. I don't actually know ANY J guy who wants his wife/future wife to not work - though I am sure they do exist. You might want to think about who refuses to let go of the pension/health care/tax break women get from their husband's in order to be able to stay home or not work FT. The WOMEN. THEY are the ones hurting the single moms and unmarried women, not the men. Sorry but J men aren't the issue with unskilled women staying home and not being able to find work. The women are.

    I find it sick and twisted that these women are gloating over the death of the person who has ensured they have a roof over their head, food to eat and money to spend. Sadly though, not surpring. What I really do not understand is why these men stay married to these creatures. Frankly, I think it is only to see their kids. If men here were allowed to see their kids after a divorce I have no doubt the divorce rate would skyrocket because the men would file. Let's be honest, everything a housewife here provides can easily be bought these days - be it a maid, a dog walker, a sex partner, someone to cook dinner, washing their clothes... Services available for all.

  • 2

    Educator60

    @ samwatters

    Whenever I read statements like this I wonder what it was that made the woman turn cold?

    < I kept my job, spent most of my nights working on a secret business that become profitable and, better yet, put money directly in my hands that she couldn't touch. ..... Two years ago, I sold the company for a nice sum and walked out ..... my ex-wife receives the same amount of money she received while we were together .... which is one-third of what I live on. >

    Are you in Japan? if so, how did you get around the law that says upon divorce the assets obtained before the marraige belong to the respective partners but those obtained during the marrage must be split evenly?

    @ Michael Grant In most cases by the time a husband dies the chilld-rearing, caring for parents etc will be finished or at least in the last stretches. But I have known some housewives who spent years taking care of their in-laws after the somewhat premature deaths of their husbands. When multiple generations live together the relationships don't necessarily end because of the death of one member.

  • 5

    tmarie

    To be honest, I don't think most of these relationships turned cold, they were from the get go. While many do see marriage as a "love" thing here, it was more of a contract decades ago - a woman needs a provider, a man needs a cook, cleaner and offspring to carry on the family name. My PIL are omiai and I have no doubts in my head my MIL would be overjoyed if the FIL dropped dead. They were never "love love" from my understanding and it is clear as day watching their interactions. Why does she stay? Well, unskilled, unqualified and frankly, she knows she's going to outlive him and will do well living off the savings, pension and the like.

    My husband and I are friends (okay, that's a lie, they are coworkers whom we see) with a Japanese couple the same age as us. My husband is SHOCKED by how they wife speaks to the husband and how nasty she can be. The husband puts up with it - they just had a baby - but I have no doubts he'll be one of those miserable husbands in the future considerind how things are going only three years into their marriage. He adores his baby and I have no doubt he'll put up with the "devil wife" to ensure he can see his daughter. It's sad to watch - and makes my husband thankful! ;)

  • -2

    thuganomics79

    The underlying reason for this is most likely not only traditional but also biological. Men are hard-wired to procreate with as many women as possible, hence sex does not equal love and marriage. Soaplands and other such establishments, as well as cheating, will continue so long as there are men. Women tend to want to settle down with that one special guy, the provider, if you will. Several months/years later, married couples begin to see things and each other in a whole new light. Both wife and husband begin to wish they could renege on their earlier promises based on tradition and societal expectations. The wife turns into a bitter parasite, while all the while refusing to give up her comfortable lifestyle. The husband meanwhile begins turning his attention more and more towards that pretty young girl at work or at his local snack/ girls bar/ etc.

  • 2

    FightingViking

    @NathalieB

    The poor poor housewife is free to leave at any time, get a job, make her own money, and be happy. You stay in the situation, you're just as much to blame as the person who put you in it.

    In Japan? As a single mother?

    Been there, done that but without any kind of "financial arrangement". However, it was really great to get out of a "domestic violence" situation, and I've never been afraid of work anyway ! (Was still working while married)

  • 2

    Educator60

    Oops, something disappeared in my previous post. , Between "@samwatters" and "Whenever I read ...." Should have been: When I was 44 (I am now 55), found myself in a dead-end marriage with a woman who was colder than the fish on display at your local supermarket.

  • 20

    samwatters

    @Educator60.
    Sorry, I can understand how you would be confused about the assests after reading my post as I was not clear. Let me try again. Upon the selling of my company I gave my wife half of the after-tax profits. I won't go into detail but the sum was quite large. This was not in accordance with the law you quote but in accordance with my conscience as my wife had never worked in a serious career prior nor after our marriage and I knew she would have a hard time taking care of herself.

    The main reason I responded to your post was to point out that the law you cited is not really a law (kind of like the recent signing of the Hague Treaty of Abducting Children). Read on because this information might help you or someone one day. Upon getting a divorce I consulted my lawyer who was a police officer about divorce laws and assets in Japan and he told me, "Sam, it is common knowledge that women in Japan steal and hoard money from their husbands in the form of a secret savings called "hesokuri" (literally meaning "umbilical cord funds") and these laws are more of a suggestion and would never be enforced." I do not agree with his stance on woman stealing from their husbands but the point of this story is to highlight that the law is not really a law. Check out high profile peopel who leave their spouse and never pay a dime of alimony and/or child support which I also don't support. After leaving her I started another company and from those proceeds I still make sure she receives the same amount as my monthly teaching salary when we were married. This, again, is not legally mandated but done out of conscience as I would not want the mother of my child to suffer. On the other hand....

    ...while my exwife is not here to give her side but I can say with a clean conscience that I was a good husband; always considerate, did more than half of the housework, never let her do my laundry (that would be a crime against humanity with the way my gym wear smells after riding my bicycle) and watched over both my child and her grandmother and was not greedy or pushy in the bedroom. After five years of marriage she just turned off; no communication, no sex, nothing. I asked her why and she just shrugged. I suggested marriage counselling and she said Japanese don't do those kind of things. I suspect it is because she learned that marriage was not going to mean every day was Sunday like when we dated; that there would be work involved and maybe some disappointment. Finally I packed my bags and she said, "I want a baby and I will be happy." So we had a baby and for that I'm glad because my child was/is the best thing I have ever been a part of. But , as you probably guessed, after the baby came it was back to the same thing. So I bid my time, did my best and then moved on.

    So for you guys out there who are thinking of marrying a Japanese girl, learn from the mistakes of Sam Watters. Here they are:

    1.) Do not under any circumstances marry a girl (regardless of age) who is still living with her parents. She is still a child unless she has lived on her own for at least a year.

    2.) Ask her what her hopes/dreams for the future are. After she gives you an answer, ask her how she plans to get there. If you get a blank stare or a "wakaranai" or, the worst, a giggle then you should run like hell in the opposite direction.

    3.) Ask the girl how she would feel if you were to leave your job and strike out on your own which would likely mean a downgrade in disposable income and an uncertain future for the time being. If she recoils in horror, then repeat the process for dealing with giggling outlined in Point 2. If, on the other hand, she smiles and squeezes your hand and says she's with you through the good and the bad, then hold on to here because you got a special girl. They are out there, but you've got to look a little harder to find them

  • 7

    LFRAgain

    I look at articles like the above and can't help but wonder what precisely these women thought life was going to be like when they got married. Furthermore, how much effort did they make to let the husbands know how miserable they supposedly were? These women are all of a generation that practically drove men to the factories and offices of corporate Japan at the crack of a whip in order to further the national economic aims of Japan, Inc. These women think it was all parties and unfettered joy for their husbands? It wasn't. They missed out on a lot of PTA meeting, a lot of school plays, and most of the children's formative years. They missed out on a relationship with their spouse. They missed out on being able to enjoy the vast majority of the fruits of their clearly unappreciated sacrifice in order to put a roof over the heads of their family and food in their mouths.

    Each and every member of society bears responsibility for all that comes after. Whether they choose to say something in favor of or against is entirely up to them. But to characterize Japanese men, particularly of the generation that's the focus of the article, as some sort of unfathomable tyrants who locked these women unfairly in prisons of marriage is complete and utter horseshit, pardon my liberal use of expletives.

    I know perfectly well there are a number of irresponsible, self-indulgent, unromantic jackass men out there. But make no mistake that for every asshat of a husband, there is also an equally immature, self-indulgent, materialistic asshat of wife to keep the scales balanced.

  • 6

    zichi

    samwatters, sorry it ended like that for you but I'm happy about your honesty and hope others will take it in. My Japanese wife and I have been married foe a long time and we will be together until life takes one of us, and even then we'll still be together.

    The first, of your two question wouldn't really apply but on the third one, my wife would try and support me whatever I decided to do. I'm an artist, so it don't get much more difficult than that. Never a single complaint from my wife, but then I also know how fortunate I am.

    I don't actually believe anything is a mistake.

  • 10

    Tessa

    But make no mistake that for every asshat of a husband, there is also an equally immature, self-indulgent, materialistic asshat of wife to keep the scales balanced.

    Yes, nicely put. Speaking as a woman, and one who regards herself as a feminist, I have to say that I've never been so horrified by cold, calculating female behavior as I have since living here in Japan. I have also developed a lot of sympathy for the hardworking men (most of whom were raised solely by their mothers, and therefore accept this bizarre relationship dynamic as normal). I always assumed my sympathies would be the other way around. I was wrong.

  • 5

    hidingout

    Hey smith, I thumbed you up big time on this article ;)

    Props to samwatters also for his excellent contribution.

    These women make me sick and are a disgrace to the gender.

  • 7

    samwatters

    @Zichi. Congratulations on your successful marriage; it is apparent that both you and your wife chose well and made a committment and you are now reaping the rewards. Hope things continue going well for the both of you.

  • -1

    danalawton1@yahoo.com

    More power to them... as long as they stay away from the arsenic.

  • 2

    trinklets2

    @LFR , I strongly believe in what you say remembering one of my co workers yrs ago. She was in her early 60's, been living in separate room from her husband of more than 30 yrs on the frail ground that she's a painter and didn't want to disturb her husband's sleeping hrs. The only reason they were not divorcing was because of their social status and how to reason out to their 2 sons, knowing that the man she married held a high position in the city hall till retirement and that the eldest son was working in the same city hall at that moment. The man might what you call unromantic but not a jackass base from his achievement. He really put a roof over their heads and not just one roof. I'm just really wondering why. But if you look at their family picture, it was soo perfect and I was envious then. You exactly described her!

  • 2

    tmarie

    Yes, nicely put. Speaking as a woman, and one who regards herself as a feminist, I have to say that I've never been so horrified by cold, calculating female behavior as I have since living here in Japan. I have also developed a lot of sympathy for the hardworking men (most of whom were raised solely by their mothers, and therefore accept this bizarre relationship dynamic as normal). I always assumed my sympathies would be the other way around. I was wrong.

    It's like I wrote it. But I know I didn't! I have never seen such a group of spoiled, lazy and entitled women in my life. Yes, there are exceptions but they are that, exceptions. I feel very, very sorry for the men here - be it Japanese or foreign - who end up with the type of women this article is about. The sad thing, so many out there are like this.

  • 3

    NathalieB

    Agree tmarie. Many many many of the women here are spoilt and self-entitled. However - not ALL of them. And my post is no joke. I would never joke about something as serious as a woman finding herself trapped in an abusive situation she cant get out of. My friend has been on the phone to me every day for a month now, crying and terrified because she has no idea how to support herself and her two young girls as a single mother in Japan. And she never gave up work after they were born. Just worked part time so she could be with them as much as possible. She doesnt earn nearly enough to support them. And her millionaire husband (who has consistently abused her and cheated on her) is refusing her a penny for having the gall to finally walk out on him. all she knows is at least where she is now she is safe. Kind of. She is living in a dirt cheap and dodgy area and her oldest child has had to change schools and is getting bullied.

    Clearly you dont have children. If you did, you would be mixing with many other Japanese women who have children and who were pressured intensely once the children were born to give up perfectly good jobs and stay home with them. Let me guess - a lot of the women you meet are college students dreaming of marrying a rich guy, right? I am not talking about women who give up work the moment they are married. But women who give up work to be home for their young children. Some of them were even "not allowed" to put their child into a pre-school because their in-laws deemed it not in the best interests of the child. If you continue working after the children are born, thats one thing, although good luck getting your same job and benefits back plus any opportunities for advancement once you have to leave the office at 5 to get to the daycare. Assuing the company doesnt find a way to break the law and get rid of you anyway. If you give up work once you have children to raise them to elementary level, then good luck finding a job good enough to support you as a single mother in the future. Some manage it. Many dont. You can study for a new career, yes. Whos going to pay for your course? Your husband? The one who likes to come home to a clean house and cooked meals every day just like his Mother always did?

    Anyway - my point is yes, many women are spoilt self-entitled harridans and I feel really sorry for the men unlucky enough to be saddled with one. But this thread and these comments ignore the also sizeable group of women who married for love and have done everything in their power to create a happy marriage and home, only to have their husbands consistently verbally and physically abuse them and cheat on them. Like my best friend. Like Fighting Viking. Good for both of them that they got out. But its not that easy.

    Harvey Pekar: nice to meet you too! Yes, in theory in Japan all those things happen. However, in practice, none of them are enforceable and many many women simply return to their families houses - if they will have them back - or live in a rat infested hole trying desperately to make ends meet month on month while their ex toddles off into the distance with his newest OL and the LV handbag he just bought for her on her arm.

    I spit on the spoilt brat women who lunch and shop off their walking ATM as much as anyone. But not all married women in Japan are in that situation. And ignoring that does all those women who have already been kicked to the ground an even greater disservice.

  • 4

    Educator60

    Went to bed without having a chance to have another look at this thread. Then woke up too early realizing I had a brain lapse yesterday. Of course one way the law about splitting assets evenly can be gotten around is by doing a kyougi rikkon in which the couple states they have reached an agreement regarding their assets and that is just accepted by city hall and the court is not involved so there is no fact finding, etc. I know that often one or both parties hide some of their assets, have seen many cases where the wife was pressured to settle for less than her rightful share, or just does not have the will to try for more because she wants out as quick and easy as possible, thinks she cannot afford a lawyer, doesn't want the stigma of a court case, etc.

    samwatters, thank you for the detailed explanation, my impression of you went up many notches :-)

    Getting back to the topic of the article, in my own case if my husband goes before I do I actually will be somewhat relieved. But that is only because I know I am far better equipped mentally to deal with the resulting paperwork and sorting out of things and the complications for him due to the fact I am not Japanese and the US tax and property issues would truly be a burden for him. But I would miss terribly my dear companion of many decades.

  • 2

    Jaymann

    @Samwaters - You are now my hero!

  • 3

    Alphaape

    The company hierarchy was as much in force in the apartment building as at the office.

    I can imagine that "Yumi" gave it out as much as she took it. For those young women who moved into the complex, I imagine that she was just as bad to them as those women whose husbands had a higher position than her husband did to her. Never understood why a company would invest in housing to keep employees living in the same place. If anything, I would want to not see any cowokers on my time off.

  • 2

    Tosahame

    Well, Japan, if that doesn't give you a wake-up call about gender roles and working lives, I don't know what will.

  • 4

    LFRAgain

    NathalieB,

    Thumbs-up to your important counterpoint. You're right: There are a lot of women, just as there are a lot of men, throughout Japan that really do go into marriage with the best of intentions -- and I don't mean that cynically, i.e., "the road to hell is paved with...".

    Many people in Japan marry because they love their partner, and presumably because their partner loves them in return. They have children because they assume the love between them and and their partner will naturally lead to such a momentous event. And they make decisions on how to raise their child that, presumably, are mutually respected and supported.

    And then you have those folks who marry because they are checking off some virtual check-list in their mind of what they think they should be doing in life as dictated by the all-encompassing dictate of social expectation.

    They don't marry because they love their partner; they marry because 25 is just around the corner, and well, it's what people do before they're 25.

    They don't have children because they want to see their love find expression in (IMHO) the greatest way possible, but rather because 30 is just around the corner, and no one who is anyone in Japanese society fails to have their first child after 30.

    They don't take jobs, 30-year mortgages, and every form of insurance imaginable under the sun because they need it or want it, but rather because they fell that's what the close scrutiny of friends, neighbors, and coworkers dictates should happen at this, that, and the other stage of a well-scripted, but ultimately emotionless life.

    The end result? Infidelity, rising divorces, a rapidly falling population, and a hidden gender war that puts the US-Soviet Cold War to shame in its utter corrosiveness.

  • 4

    pointofview

    “Many women,” says Ozawa, “sacrifice their lives to housework, child-rearing, caring for aged parents and in-laws.

    That`s a choice they have made. If they want to strut along with what the rest of the population is doing then they have only themselves to blame. Get a backbone.

  • 1

    Junichi

    Interesting article. A shame the quoted widows did not feel free until after their spouses died.

    However, would Mr. A in the article really change in any significant way after reading it? After he dies he may not really care how much fun his wife will have since he has apparently been fairly oblivious to her feelings thus far.

  • 1

    Maria

    Surely marriage in Japan was not based on love anyway, so the lack or loss of it is only bad if you look at marriage as the modern Western concept insists it is - love and romance and all that.

    In Japan, it was (still is?) a practical arrangement- to form a new household, which the woman runs while raising the inevitable 2 children (older girl, younger prince) and suffers the in-laws,while the man works to make money, and suffers his bosses.

    And after work he drinks with his colleagues and shyly touches up younger women in snack bars, while his wife puts the kids to bed, leaves the bath heated for her absent spouse, and then lies down in her futon, her sexual desires becoming frustration, which becomes anger and disappointment and ultimately emptiness .

    They have sex until the kids are born, then they do not. They do what is expected of them in their roles, live in tolerable harmony or at least unexpressed dissatisfaction, until one of them dies.

    I knew a man... an much older man, he was then in his mid-50s, with teenage kids. I asked him if he was happy in his marriage: "I don't know yet, " he replied. "I'll know when I'm on my deathbed."

    That's a long time to wait to acknowledge happiness or otherwise. What these women are doing is not murdering their husbands for his fortune, they are being honest about what their marriage was.They did their job, the job of being a wife, and are now exploring retirement.

    It's just these false expectations of romance that you foreigners imported, which have made this arrangement seem lacking.

  • 2

    tmarie

    NathalieB, much like you, I have friends who have left or are still in abusive relationships. I watched one friend in a very similar situation that you described (rich and abusive husband, non-working mother, two kids, unskilled) leave and make it. It took here more than a few tries - and some serious bruising - but she has finally made it. It certainly wasn't easy - because of that damn salary cap for the pension/health care/tax break and companies refusing to pay women what they are worth because heck, most of them just wannt a bit of pocket money while expecting their husband's salary to cover things - hence my comments above about how women hurt women here with the whole "get married, quit work, stay home, work PT jobs for peanuts". This is why your friend can't find a decent paying job. Why hire and pay a women a proper salary when some housewife will work for under 1.03 million a year? It is a huge issue and with more women finally demanding a decent marriage, a career and being working moms, this has got to change. The men are fine with it changing. The SAHW are not though. I hope your friend can do the same and she is lucky to have the support you offer her - Japan has a long way to go in terms of women's shelters and the like. I certainly will not disagree with you on that - and it is one reason why I encourage all females, be it my friends my age or my students, to stay working as long as they can. Giving up financial freedom is a heavy price to pay.

    That being said, I live in a neighborhood with women who wanted to quit their jobs - and who are currently pressuring me to quit mine so I can "hang out" with them. Your assumptions on many things about my life were wrong. Certainly I am sure some were pressured to quit - be it husband, boss, parents... but this isn't what this thread is about nor is it my experience here with the thousands of women I have come into contact with her and my close friends - many of whom are mothers. Those women who "had" to quit do indeed exist but I think in smaller amount than those who want to quit and stay home. I live in an area where most men have very well paying jobs. Many of the men in this company now are shunning marriage because of the women outlined above. They don't see the point of working their guts out only to give it all to a wie who is just going to demand more and nag them when they finally are done for the day.

    Yes, women suffer here a lot. No doubt about it but they often suffer due to the choices they made or the pressure they gave into when they could've just given folks the middle finger - like many others have. The men often suffer here because of work issues and then go home and suffer because of an unhappy, demanding wife. I find this disgusting.

    I wish your friend well - she probable has but ward offices/city offices do offer help and support in this area. Many women refuse to go and ask for help but it is there. There are also a few online places that offer help and support. One of the main issues here is that many abused women (and men) refuse to seek help from outside of their friends. Support will never grow if people don't go out to look for support.

  • 3

    LFRAgain

    And after work he drinks with his colleagues and shyly touches up younger women in snack bars, while his wife puts the kids to bed, leaves the bath heated for her absent spouse, and then lies down in her futon, her sexual desires becoming frustration, which becomes anger and disappointment and ultimately emptiness .

    You make some damning assumptions about men that in truth cut both ways, Maria. The assumption that all men drink with colleagues out of choice is misplaced. The assumption that these men all indulge in a bit of sexual harassment at nearby snack bars is also misplaced. The assumption that the onus of responsibility for lack of sexual desire in the relationship falls squarely on the shoulders of the husband is equally unfair.

    You mischaracterize the attitude the women have taken in the article as something as pure and innocuous as "retirement from marriage," completely discounting the article's careful usage of the word "resentment" to describe how the feelings these women are experiencing are anything but those borne of the conclusion of a simple business contract when their husband die.

    You further attempt to recast the entire purpose of the Josei 7 article as an unassuming report on Japanese social dynamics when the article's single greatest theme is: Husbands had better wake up before it's too late. Wake up? Too late for what, exactly? Love, perchance?

    This doesn't sound like the kind of message one would expect from what you insist on characterizing as an unwelcome intrusion of Western sensibilities regarding marriage, love, and commitment. As if the West could hoodwink the entirety of Japanese society into swallowing the idea of a "love marriage" completely unnoticed.

  • -4

    Maria

    Hey, LFRAgain - you assume that I assume, and you know what that makes us?

    I never said they choose to drink till all hours, because I know they don't. I never said either that I'm sure the husband would like to be able to come home early, have dinner with the family, talk about their days, go to bed, have some easy sex. But I'm sure they do want to.

    I never called it harassment, you did. The hand on the knee of the snack girl, that's par for the course.

    I never said anything about hoodwinking either - Disney has been embraced as wholeheartedly as a white wedding, because they are both exciting fantasies. I never said anything about trickery!

    That is to say, I tried not to go on about it, spelling everything out. Seems like that was a mistake, eh, since at least one poster has chosen to misread what I wrote.

  • 2

    tmarie

    It's just these false expectations of romance that you foreigners imported, which have made this arrangement seem lacking.

    Wait, what??? How are we to blame for this? If you discuss what marriage is all about with your average western and Japanese, you'll get two very different opinions. Westerns often go into marriage thinking of the old ball and chain and how they are going to have to give up certain things but know they will get other things in return. Here? Men assume that a wife will be their mommy and women assume that they'll finally be happy and live happily ever after. Rainbows and fluffy bunnies everyday! Squeal!! Chubby babies who will grow up to be mommies best friend and they can go shopping together! Yiipppppeee!! Unless of course they are the 50% that get knocked up and think they "have" to get married. Then they think it is crap - though still hold the dreams of chubby babies and kids being their best friend when they get older.

    I don't think it is "our" fault that silly little princesses here think the Disney movie romantic crap is reality and become bitter when they find out that their handsome princess charming isn't going to help with the dishes and deal with the kids and romance them after working 14 hours at the office. It's not our fault that Japan hasn't figure out that marriage is what you make of it and that if men are expected to be the sole breadwinners, they can't come home and be the father that they would like to be. It's not our fault that women feel they have to quit and stay home to raise their kids. That is the fault of the Japanese for wanting to have their cake and eat it too. They haven't woken up to the reality of marriage is in the modern day and only have themselves to blame for that. The cherry picking that goes one here is crazy - wives wanting to stay home and yet expecting husbands to help around the house is just not done in the west. Men help back home because the wife is busy working - and both usually get home at a decent hour so they can both parent together. Why many here think that they can have the western style without changing is beyond me and personally, what I think is why so many married women here are bitter. They bought into the fantasy of it all, not the reality. They want hubby to help out and come home at a decent hour? Great. Get a FT job so hubby isn't scared not to stay until the boss is ready to leave. They can blame themselves for that - that and the horrific promotions of what a good mother and wife is, the crappy "I'll ffinallly be happy when I get married" messages that are all over the place. You don't have massive wedding ads and crap back home like they do here. Get married or suffer the fate of being alone forever. Whatever.

  • 4

    cleo

    My mil is of an age where she and most of her friends are widows. In the majority of cases I see first-hand, it isn't that they were waiting for hubby to pop off, or stashing away cash in readiness for the day they would be 'free'. Most of them were in happy marriages, maybe not smokin'-hot passion, but quiet companionship. Not abusive relationships, not 'I must get me and the kids away from him' situations at all. The death when it comes is a shock. But once the shock and the initial grieving are over, the ladies realise for the first time that they have a kind of freedom they didn't have before. The freedom to spend money on themselves and their own pleasures without having to justify it. The freedom to have friends round to the house without having to OK it with him first. The freedom to go out without having to worry about getting back in time to fix his dinner. All inconsequential, all things they hadn't noticed before and hadn't fretted over because that was just the way things were, the way they expected them to be. So now they're enjoying their last few years with friends in a similar position. More power to them, I say. Would you rather they spent their final years dressed in weeds and making their grandkids unhappy 'cos Gran's crying again?

    Base your analysis of typical marriage in Japan from what you read in a magazine like Josei 7? Nah.

  • -1

    tmarie

    **The freedom to spend money on themselves and their own pleasures without having to justify it. The freedom to have friends round to the house without having to OK it with him first. **

    They had all that freedom when he was out slaving at the office! People your MIL's age would've been in the bubble and most had more than enough cash to spend on themselves. I'm not saying I disagree with your comments about not having to cook dinner and the like - I encourage my husband to go out drinking when I am busy at work so I don't have to deal with that - but the idea that Japanese wives all sit and home and suffer because of horrible husbands is just not true. Any day of the week one can go to a community center here and see the women of all ages enjoying hobbies and the like while most have husbands at work. Cafes are full of wives enjoying lunches with friends during the week day. Very rare to spot a man in one - my husband was shocked the first time we went to one when he took a day off. The pity party thrown for these women is eyerolling to say the least.

  • 3

    LFRAgain

    Maria,

    You imply very heavily throughout your post that men are largely to blame for situations in which (and I'm quoting you directly here) a Japanese wife "lies down in her futon, her sexual desires becoming frustration, which becomes anger and disappointment and ultimately emptiness."

    I'm making no assumptions about what you wrote at all. You go out of your way to portray wives as victims here, and then go one step further by blaming Western culture for Japan's rising marriage malaise. If you believe I missed some subtle subtext in your post, then please feel free to clarify where I may have misread your intent.

  • 0

    cleo

    They had all that freedom when he was out slaving at the office!

    In most cases he wasn't out slaving at the office, the last 15-20 years he'd been retired and at home. And in some cases with diminishing mobility, meaning that if his wife wanted to spend time with him she was more or less confined to the house too.

    People your MIL's age would've been in the bubble and most had more than enough cash to spend on themselves.

    The bubble burst over twenty years ago. Do you rate your life now on what you were doing twenty years ago?

    the idea that Japanese wives all sit and home and suffer because of horrible husbands is just not true

    I did not say all Japanese wives, I did not say they were suffering (in fact I pointed out that they were not) and I did not say their husbands were horrible. I pointed out that in most cases the couples had a pretty comfortable relationship.

    women of all ages enjoying hobbies and the like while most have husbands at work.

    Rather labouring the point, but women of my mil's age tend not to have husbands at work. Most of them tend not to have husbands, it's an essential qualification for being a merry widow.

    Where did I throw a 'pity party'? You'd prefer the old ladies to spend their last years sobbing over their walking frames? I miss my fil, he was a very nice man, as far as I know a good husband, certainly a good father and grandfather, and I'm sorry he's dead; but I'm glad my mil is getting on with her life and enjoying herself. Better that than having her sad all the time.

  • -1

    tmarie

    Cleo, you used the example of your MIL. I am using the example of the time she would have been a housewife and had a husband working. I didn't think that was too difficult to understand. And yes, I do rate what I did 20 years ago as its made me the person I am today.

    Heaven forbid one stays home with a husband who has provided one with a roof over their head, clothing on their back and food to eat for an entire marriage. Oh the horror! Nevermind that many western women who worked their entire lives who do the same - but out of love. Oh the horror of being a poor Japanese housewife. The heavy burden they carry. More so if they are expecting their DIL to look after them - no cooking, cleaning and that crap, right? My MIL had to suck that up and I can tell you she's glad the old bag is in the hospital so she doesn't have to deal with her anymore. So what does my MIL do now? Enjoys the oddles of free time she has - just like she did when my husband and brother were in school and her husband was at work. My FIL is left sitting in front of the TV because he has no friends because he worked all the damn time.

    I'd prefer these women have some respect for the men who supported them all these years and not complain about how hard they had it when in fact, they didn't. No one is asking them to throw themselves on the fire and die of being a widow but the very notion that some of these women are celebrating the death of the person who monetarily supported them all these years is sick.

    I'm glad your MIL is enjoying her time but it is pretty clear that your MIL isn't the type of person being discussed in this article. My GMIL was.

  • 2

    CGB Spender

    My wife would have disagreed with this if she were in my position.

  • 2

    cleo

    I am using the example of the time she would have been a housewife and had a husband working.

    Let me see, yes, that would be the time she was also working as a full-time, fully-qualified neonatal nurse. A lot of her friends ditto, that's where they became friends in the first place. Your point being...?

    I do rate what I did 20 years ago

    Not what you did 20 years ago, but what you were doing, ie the situation you were in. I imagine you were a student, or not long out of studenthood. So when you have to make a decision now, you base it on what the student you would have done?

    More so if they are expecting their DIL to look after them

    Well my mil certainly doesn't expect that. She doesn't like to eat the kind of food I like to cook, and vice versa. And there is no mention anywhere that I can see of old ladies having it in for their dils. Again, your point....?

    My MIL had to suck that up and I can tell you she's glad the old bag is in the hospital

    Then I'm sorry for your mil. Thankfully my mil has never given me cause to think of her as an old bag.

    I'd prefer these women ..... not complain about how hard they had it

    Sorry, but where in any of my posts did you read about anybody complaining about how hard they had it?

    many western women who worked their entire lives who do the same - but out of love. Oh the horror of being a poor Japanese housewife.

    You do realise the very term merry widow is a Western one? You think the only merry widow is a Japanese one? Or do you want to sneer only at the Japanese ones ? Here's the story of a Western woman who calls herself a merry widow - (It's in the Mail, so not exactly a peer-reviewed paper on a social phenomenon, but no worse than Josei 7) . http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2256237/How-I-merry-widow-When-Jeannette-Kupfermann-lost-husband-thought-recover-But-time-learned-life-on.html Do you want to castigate this lady for finding widowhood one of the greatest learning curves a woman can experience? For finding the responsibility of putting out the bins, paying bills or DIY daunting and frustrating? For mentioning that her husband's final illness had left her in debt, with medical bills to pay? For finding exciting new opportunities in life and new-found joys?

    We get it that you disapprove of married ladies who have time for friends and hobbies and the like (oh horror! How dare they enjoy themselves!) as well as having children who they send to school instead of homeschooling. But it's all swings and roundabouts. You don't have the time they have. They don't have the financial independence you have. You makes yer choice and you lives yer life.

  • 4

    Peacetrain

    This is explained by the way things were in the past. Based on many of the older couples I know, their marriages were basically omiai. Not all of them, but quite a lot of them married through introductions and married because the standards were right on both sides.

    It's like a contract. So the man works. The woman runs the home. People often think women are lonely when the man is out on the weekends at golf etc, but actually the wife is happy. Many older women I know feel obligated to stay at home if there husband is home because she is expected to make lunch/ tea etc. That's why many men when they retire get a second job. It's not always his idea, and not always for money. If he's at home the wife feels obligated to make lunch etc.

    So, if the husband dies the wife is finally free to go and do whatever she likes. But these cases are usually only true if there is plenty of money around. Of course many would have rather divorced but didn't simply because of the shame.

    I feel sorry for so many married men in Japan, but I also see the other side. Like has been mentioned, many women wanted to work but didn't because their husband didn't allow it.

    I also know any number of women who would much rather go overseas or travelling anywhere with friends rather than their husbands.

    Sad. Marriage could be so much more fun.

  • -5

    tmarie

    Let me see, yes, that would be the time she was also working as a full-time, fully-qualified neonatal nurse. A lot of her friends ditto, that's where they became friends in the first place. Your point being...?

    What's your since this is a thread about housewives?

  • 3

    cleo

    this is a thread about housewives

    Is it? The article mentions one lady who is/was a 'typical housewife'. No mention of what all the others were doing. The lady who saved enough to open her own snack bar probably needed earnings of her own to be able to save that much. The majority of married women in Japan work. You're the one who started getting upset (again) about the women who have the time to enjoy lunch with friends and cultivate their hobbies.

    Are you saying that it's OK for a lady with an income of her own to spread her wings when her husband dies, while someone who was a housewife should just - what? Curl up meekly in the foetal position and wait to follow him? Throw herself sobbing on his funeral pyre?

    My husband and I are happy to see his mother happy in her widowhood. It detracts nothing from their marriage or memories of his father, and casts aspersions on neither of them.

    Go, Gran!

  • -2

    tmarie

    Would be a rather safe assumption that most of the women in the article didn't work FT, nor have careers, seeing as how, as you kindly pointed out, they would rather old since they're widows and most women weren't working FT then, just like now - your MIL being one of the exceptions.Which I already stated, do exist.

    I guess you aren't aware that many wives here skim money off their husband's salaries and have secret bank accounts, right? If one skims enough, more so during the bubble era, one wouldn't need a job to be able to afford a place and open up a business.

    The majority of married women work PT hobby jobs that pay them less than 1.03 million a year. You and I are both aware of this.

    I am certainly not getting upset about ladies who lunch. I just find it pathetic that these women are celebrating the death of someone who did so much for them.

    I think I have made it clear about how I feel - including the funeral pyre. Perhaps go and reread? Nothing wrong with a woman, married or not, celebrating her life. There is however, something very wrong with someone celebrating the death of someone. More so someone who supported them for the better part of one's life. Why you take issue with that is beyond me.

  • 5

    LFRAgain

    tmarie,

    I agree with you completely about the "relief" the women in the article reportedly feel at the death of a spouse. It seems rather macabre to celebrate anyone's death, much less one who, at the very minimum, fulfilled his part of this seeming clinical financial arrangement to be the breadwinner while the wife takes up the role of homemaker.

    From the article:

    "All the widows I know," writer Ryoko Ozawa, 76, tells Shukan Post, "perked up when their husbands died. I don't know any sad widows."

    This is reprehensible. There is nothing wrong with finding new purpose in life after the death of a loved one, particularly one as close as a spouse. We should all be so lucky. But to celebrate that new lease on life with a footnote that one's inability to fully live life was the fault of an oppresive husband is absurd and offensive.

  • 0

    cleo

    Would be a rather safe assumption that most of the women in the article didn't work FT

    How many women are mentioned? (1) the woman who showed her husband the magazine (no idea whether she works or not, not really relevant); (2) the snack-bar chortler (see below); (3) the woman who left company housing when her husband died (why wouldn't she? It was his workplace, not hers, again, her career status has no bearing on her moving out); (4)the widow who found another sex partner (If she was single again, why not? Would anything be different if she were working?).

    So out of the 4 women mentioned, working FT or not is irrelevant in 3 cases.

    I guess you aren't aware that many wives here skim money off their husband's salaries and have secret bank accounts, right?

    I've heard it said. I don't believe it's as widespread or includes such huge amounts as some would have us believe. For most people, I imagine it's more on the level of an envelope tucked into the undies drawer. Skimming off enough to go into business? If it happened it would be the exception, not the rule.

    There is however, something very wrong with someone celebrating the death of someone

    Yes of course there is. But this article - by a magazine trying hard to spice things up to sell more copies, remember - can come up with only one chortle, from the same woman you think was stealing whacking huge amounts of money off her husband all through the bubble years. Hardly a typical example of uxorial devotion, but it's just the one, not 'these women' at all. There is no widespread celebration of the death of hard-working husbands by lazy, grabby thieving mendacious stay-at-home women. If you changed your 'these women' to 'this one woman who stole from her husband and opened a bar where she openly chortles', I'd be with you. Whether she stole the money or not, chortling at death is just not on. I've tried to show, by looking at the widows I see around me on a regular basis, that a woman doesn't have to 'celebrate' the death of her husband to get a second wind once she's a widow. And that there's nowt wrong with that.

  • 0

    Tessa

    Any day of the week one can go to a community center here and see the women of all ages enjoying hobbies and the like while most have husbands at work. Cafes are full of wives enjoying lunches with friends during the week day. Very rare to spot a man in one - my husband was shocked the first time we went to one when he took a day off. The pity party thrown for these women is eyerolling to say the least.

    This is very much the way I see and experience it. I'm surrounded by ladies of leisure, many of whom have never been self-supporting in their lives, and don't seriously expect to be. It's incredibly easy to live as a housewife in Japan. Once the onerous childrearing years are out of the way (and they aren't that long anyway, at least certainly not compared to the average lifespan of the average Japanese woman, and considering the fact that most mothers nowadays only have two children at the most) all the housewife has to do is enjoy life to the hilt with her coffee klatch friends - on someone else's dime, certainly not her own - and wait for hubby to kick the bucket so that she can continue to enjoy life on the insurance and pension payouts.

    And yes, I do rate what I did 20 years ago as its made me the person I am today.

    So do I. Twenty years ago I was working my butt off to get through school and establish my career. I was also squirreling away money like there was no tomorrow. What I wasn't doing was banking on marriage, widowhood, and an eventual pension (paid for by someone else) to get through life. And I certainly wasn't popping any bonbons, that's for sure.

  • 0

    Serrano

    “There was a couple in our neighborhood,” a Tokyo woman in her 60s tells the magazine. “Getting on toward 70, I’d say, and yet they seemed like a couple of lovebirds, always together. Then he died, and no sooner was the official mourning over than she opened a snack bar. ‘Now,’ she’d chortle to her customers, ‘I can do what I want"

    I guess she didn't really want to be one of the lovebirds.

  • 4

    cracaphat

    For some women, husband's death like a breath of fresh air.

    Can work both ways no?

  • 5

    Peacetrain

    @Samwatters. That was excellent advice. Those three points should be handed out at the arrivals section at Narita airport.

    I speak as one who married a girl who lived with her parents who...etc etc... lol

  • 0

    Scnadal.Lova

    This artical is very true. Many wifes jus go trhrue with a devorse instead of waitin for their husbands death.

  • 0

    leeway

    This topic presets some interesting issues. When I was new to Japan, I remember hearing a well seasoned ex-pat say, “You know, if Japan had invented baseball, it would have been one strike an you’re out.” From the views of the women presented in this article, we can tap into what it is like to live in that kind of society. It also shows us how much Japanese people can gaman-suru and deny their selves for the seemingly greater needs or wants of someone else or others.

    Before rushing in to judge, it’s worth taking a look at the other end of the stick. I recently watched an American movie called A.C.O.D., an acronym for adult children of divorce. That movie looked at the same issue from a different angle—the angle of the first generations of Americans to live with divorce as a status quo. It’s generations in plural because it’s both parents and the children. According to dailyinfographic.com, 50% of marriages in America now end in divorce, and the percentage balloons for second and third marriages. It’s not a pretty picture, either.

    Perhaps there will come a generation in both Japan and America where it will be two strikes and you’re out.

  • -1

    gogogo

    shocking

  • 7

    trinklets2

    Speaking about myself, I'm a product of an omiai, married a man 20 yrs my senior. I've expected that he being older than I and me his second wife at that, would be more considerate and understanding. That was not the case. I had to do more than half the adjustment and he expected me to be the same typical Jwife in rural Japan who is mum on everything the husband wants. He never did his part of a father other than fertilizing my egg to produce a son nor a good provider. Till he retired he never gave me a hint of his bonuses and I just content myself with whatever was given to me completely ignoring my family in my home country. I wasn't even allowed to work nor mingle before my son entered kinder. My relatives in the other side presumed I was living the good life and had forgotten all about them.At first sex with him was part of an obligation of being a wife. As yrs went by, I kind of felt like garbage after every sex. Just imagine how many times he kept on pushing himself even though he knew I had my monthly period. And just imagine we being married for more than 20 yrs and he never appreciated my native country's food. To think that he lived there for 8 yrs! I had to do a lot of adjustment and if he ever did, it was so minimal. Financially he wasn't a good provider. I wasn't extravagant hence his little income got us by. In his last yrs he was so sickly and spent almost 100,000 in hospital bills and daily care. So when he died, it was a sigh of relief. Relief from feeling like a garbage, relief from walking to and from the hospital which was around 2kms( I can't bike nor drive, the community bus runs 2x a week only and only 4 times on those days), relief from fear of catching his virus(he had Hepa C). I wasn't happy either. My family in the other side is just small and I just don't want to decrease my family members. And so when I read about all the widows you've been mentioning, I just couldn't help but be envious of them and pity their husbands.

  • 0

    Tessa

    So when he died, it was a sigh of relief. Relief from feeling like a garbage, relief from walking to and from the hospital which was around 2kms( I can't bike nor drive, the community bus runs 2x a week only and only 4 times on those days), relief from fear of catching his virus(he had Hepa C).

    I am so sorry to hear your story. You went through a great deal, didn't you? I respect you for that. I don't know your age, but I hope you understand that we are discussing women who were raised in prosperous post-war Japan, who were well fed and well educated (well, by Japanese standards), and who have no excuse for staying in loveless unions if they don't want to, or refusing to fulfill their duties as adult citizens of this country.

  • 0

    hidingout

    @ trinklets2

    I always enjoy reading your posts here. I think you have a lot to contribute. Thanks for your heartfelt words.

  • 1

    NathalieB

    tmarie - thank you for recognising the point I was making. I dont actually disagree with you. I used to live in an area a lot like the one you describe. I even had women horrified that I was continuing work after getting married, never mind after having the kids!!! Quite a few said "But what does your husband think?"!

    In my experience its probably about 50:50 - the ones who choose to stop work and the ones who are forced to. Maybe t varies a lot by area you live in.

    I cant bear the lazy beeyotches either. Especially when I ran right past them in the mornings gossiping outside the school while I raced one to kindie and the other to daycare before rushing off to work. The oldest was already at school. They almost seemed to laugh at me and sympathise that I "had" to work. I have stopped for the moment because balancisng 3 kids and a job just got too much and my youngest went through quite a nasty illness that meant way too much time off work - I was encouraged to quit.

    I didnt earn nearly as much in Japan as I was earning in my home country. Certainly not enough to have been a single mother of 3 kids if I had had to be.

    Anyway - my point is that while I TOTALLY agree with you on the spoilt princesses, i just wanted to fire a torch up for the many women who arent like that and find themselves in trouble thanks to the selfishness of their husbands. They are out there. But I agree - many are also just brats :) !

  • 1

    thuganomics79

    I may be somewhat generalizing but anyhows, a lot of women spend half their lives dreaming of that knight in shining armor who will whisk them away to Neverland-hopefully not MJ's crib. Once they do marry they realize that marriage ain't all sweetness and delight. Ergo,they can't wait for their significant other to kick the proverbial bucket.The age old adage, be careful what you wish for because it may come true, would certainly apply here. Oh, and another one-familiarity breeds contempt-should be added to the list. Yes, a marriage/ relationship needs understanding and work. Evidently quite a few married couples seem to miss this because of their own egotistical inclinations. Those who are able to stay happily married, well kudos to you.

  • 0

    Fandango Spoonmonkey

    That most marriages aren't romantic, and how salarymen typically have mistresses and use the sex industry a lot>

    Maybe if their wives put out a little, they wouldn't have resorted to it.

  • 2

    NathalieB

    I may be somewhat generalizing but anyhows, a lot of women spend half their lives dreaming of that knight in shining armor who will whisk them away to Neverland

    I think you are right there. Although that is not just Japan. A lot of people all over seem to have a pretty rosy view of marriage, and whenever you go into something with unrealistic expectations you are setting yourself up for failure.

    tmarie - forgot to add earlier as was rushing and just wantd to thank you for your concern and advice regarding my friend. The good news is she is slowly, slowly, sorting herself out, and getting some limited help from the ward office. Her husband is a bit schizo - one minute saying dont worry, I will help you, and the next screaming at her "you couldnt make money like I can! You are just too stupid!" Sigh.....

    I COMPLETELY agree that this system of keeping women earning under 1.03m yen is just crazy - not exactly encouraging women back into the workforce and keeping salaries low. A second major issue in Japan is that you are considered part time if you "only" work 9-5. The problem is, many single women dont have back up in the form of family nearby, especially in the cities, and Gakudo only runs till 7pm at the latest, assuming you can even get in, so you have to be out of the office in time to get the kids, get home, get dinner on, get their homework done if they havent already, spend time with them, try to make sure they are ok and feeling secure, etc etc - in short you just dont have the freedom to be able to stay as long as your coworkers and boss want you to. If you have an understanding company, thats great. But if you dont, its really difficult. Hence why so many women end up on very low salaries or temporary contracts with no job security at all and no promotional opportunities, if they can even get a job.

    A third issue is this culture of "you should stay home and be a housewife" that still pervades. But it IS changing, and sometimes i feel kind of privileged to be living in a society where change is happening so fast. It is fascinating to watch. Just 10 years ago when my first was born, I was fixed with sympathetic stares and comments like "kawaiso!" when I told the interested old biddies we were on our way to daycare. Fast forward to 2 years ago and women were gripping my arm, wild-eyed, asking if there is any space in our daycare and could I put in a good word for them with enchosensei! Although - as you rightly point out - whether that is for them to leap back into the workforce or ditch little Taro for more quality coffee-shop time, Im not sure?!

    I agree with what several are saying - celebrating someones death is macabre and I cant support it as a good thing. I can sympathise hugely with people like Trinklets though. But the Futako Tamagawa brigade whose slaving husbands can never earn enough to support their aspirations - yes, those ladies need a collective kick in their MaxMara-clad behinds.

    To be honest, I havent worked for just over a year now and it is KILLING me!!! My little one is much better, but just another year and he will be in school, and then I can think about diving back in to work again. Quite honestly sometimes it is ALL I think about!!! I am lucky enough to have a husband who, with a few wobbles, is generally supportive and agrees with me to put our son first for now. We have also coincidentally had some major life changes this year that have been made easier to handle with me not working. But I am proud that I have not had my nails done once! Crap nails are a sign of a well-spent day :) !

    I think we all boil down to agreeing on the same basic thing - marriage is all about give and take, respect for each other, support when one or the other needs it, and working together. You both support each other during the tough times, he supports you (or vice versa) during the times you have difficulties and you both ride the high times together and enjoy them. When the husband doesnt respect the wife by screwing around on her and squirreling money away, or she disrespects him by cracking the whip and living the high life on his dime without lifting a finger herself - its a recipe for disaster.

  • 0

    LFRAgain

    NathalieB,

    Bravo. Excellent post.

  • 0

    NathalieB

    Thank you LFR :)

    Happy marriage is something I am kind of passionate about having seen so many unhappy friends (male and female) and also had enough ups and downs myself to churn my stomach acid to butter!

  • 2

    LFRAgain

    I'm right there with you. No one ever said marriage was supposed to be easy. It requires patience, hard work, and copious amounts of empathy. Little presents and an unexpected peck on the cheek now and again are nice, too. :)

    The sheer number of couples I know whose marriages resemble something more akin to Cold War Era-detante than a relationship built on mutual cooperation and respect, never mind the love, depresses me.

    But I soldier on, hoping people will eventually "get it." Until it seems like they do, I've become a bit of a naysayer in when it comes to friends mentioning the possibilityof marriage; I advise strongly against it more often than not. And I used to be quite the romantic, to be honest.

    Samwatters has a good perspective on the scene having learned it the hard way. Wouldn't it just be better if people went into marriage with more honest and realistic expectations and goals? Sigh....

  • 1

    NathalieB

    Shame ennit, LFR?

    I was the same, a long time ago, and I had high high hopes for my marriage. Not expectations, but hopes. We are still doing ok but at times that has felt more down to sheer bloodymindedness and refusal to admit defeat than anything else! I have no regrets whatsoever. The bad times just make the good times all the sweeter. But I would have to admit I would not encourage my daughter to marry a Japanese man raised in Japan. Which is a pretty horrible thing to say, given that her father is Japanese. But I wouldnt want for her what I have been through. And I am determined to raise her not to be a freeloader either.

    I never get unexpected presents or even a peck on the cheek. Did get my butt groped while I was washing up tonight though :) ! Its the little things.....!

  • 0

    LFRAgain

    LOL!! Yes, it is. Good luck to you. It was fun talking.

  • 1

    NathalieB

    @samwatters - you sound like a dream husband! If I ever wind up single Im coming to look you up :) I will even do that smelly laundry for you!

    Seriously - good for you. I love that your story has such a great ending. My husband has been pretty good to me. Never kept me short of money, supported me when I was working, and when I am not. I have a lot to be grateful for. He is moody as hell but he cant help that. Hes a Gemini. But it was the incessant cheating that nearly drove us to divorce. And I NEVER held back on the goods, believe me! I did everything possible to keep him happy. His reasons? He told me: "Because I can". He really, genuinely didnt think there was anything wrong in it, even though before we were even married I told him I would not accept that kind of Japanese marriage and if that was what he wanted he should not marry me. He really thought as long as he was discreet I would be ok with it! He was blown away when I found out and walked out.

    Its a work in progress but things are much better now. hes learned a lot about why it isnt ok, and I have learned a lot about why he thought it was. We have ups and downs but I feel we are on the right track, and just to keep on-topic - I certainly would never wish him dead!

  • 0

    tmarie

    Yes of course there is

    Great, so you agree with me. Moving on...

    What I wasn't doing was banking on marriage, widowhood, and an eventual pension (paid for by someone else) to get through life. Me either. Sadly, more than half of my female students are when asked about their future. When they will wake up and look at the state of the economy, the issues with being finacially dependent on someone and understand there is zero job security for men and women is beyond me though. Why their parents haven't talked to them about this is beyond me.

    According to dailyinfographic.com, 50% of marriages in America now end in divorce, and the percentage balloons for second and third marriages. It’s not a pretty picture, either. Japan would probably have a similar rate if a) men were given a chance at custody/could see their kids after divorce b) women were finacially independent. My ex boyfriend's parents hadn't lived together for 13 years when I dated him (nearly 13 years ago). Why didn't they get divorced? Social stigma. They are STILL married on paper. Many, many couples here who are leading seperate lives living under the same roof. Frankly, I think that is more damaging to a child than having divorced parents who actually become happy.

    Trinklets, I'm sorry to hear your story. If you don't mind me asking, why did you stay? Did you feel you had to or was there another reason? What you went through doesn't sound easy and you have my sympathy. Relief though isn't the same as celebrating though as relief, to me, sounds respectful.

    ** They almost seemed to laugh at me and sympathise that I "had" to work.** I've had this actually said to me more than once by a few witches. Nasty, nasty witches. The reply is "I don't have to work but have worked hard to find a job I love. Plus, I don't like having to rely on someone for money and I have freedom to be able to walk away if my marriage gets bad or not hve to worry about money if anything happens to my husband." That shuts them up but I have no doubt they mutter about me once I am gone. I don't see why I need to "respect" their choices when it is clear they don't respect mine, or any other married working woman's choice. The bullying that goes on with these creatures is disgusting. Bored, too much time, not enough brain power being used I fear.

    **The problem is, many single women dont have back up in the form of family nearby, especially in the cities, and Gakudo only runs till 7pm at the latest, assuming you can even get in, so you have to be out of the office in time to get the kids, get home, get dinner on, get their homework done if they havent already, spend time with them, try to make sure they are ok and feeling secure, etc etc - in short you just dont have the freedom to be able to stay as long as your coworkers and boss want you to. ** 100% agree. This is the result of hobby jobs and most moms not "having" to work ovetime because hubby is the breadwinner so HE can slave at the office. This is my major issue with the ones that stay home and work under the 1.03. Working women suffer, particularily the single moms. Poverty rates here are shocking for these women and yet, no one will throw them a bone or stop and think about how the system hurts them. If the SAHM can afford to send their kids to kindy, juku, swimming, they can afford to pay their kokumin nenkin and get rd of the stupid salary cap so women like your friend has a chance at making a decent wage. Until this cap is done away with, women will never be viewed as equals at work due to the pay system and the old "she'll just quit when she has kids". It is not fair to the FT working women nor the single moms. It also stops society from building more daycares and support networks.

    **A third issue is this culture of "you should stay home and be a housewife" that still pervades. **

    I agree and it still prevails because of... women. I have NEVER had a Japanese man here tell me I should get knocked up and quit my job. I can't count how many times I have heard it from the J women. Thankfully, I was raised not to give into pressure and bullies. The same can't be said for many women here. Again, I'm supposed to respect their choices but where is the respect from them for others who don't do as they do?

    100% agree with you about marriage and what it should entail. I am very, very thankful for my husband and the marriage we have. A lot of work and a lot of talking BEFORE we got married to ensure that both of us were on the same page. I do believe that there is a massive lack of communication between couples before the ring goes on. For women who want to marry and then are "told" to quit, um, why on earth did you not discuss that BEFORE marriage?? It blows my mind when I hear stories of "I thought he/she would change", "I thought it would be great all the time...." I don't know, my western friends, for the most part, all went into marriage with their eye wide open - perhaps because many are from divorced parents? But the naiveness I see here... Unreal and it makes for some pretty miserable folks. A shame as I don't think it has to be that way. I was the last person who wanted to get married and find it much, much easier than I thought it would be. I picked well. I hope he thinks the same.

  • 2

    NathalieB

    According to dailyinfographic.com, 50% of marriages in America now end in divorce, and the percentage balloons for second and third marriages. It’s not a pretty picture, either.

    Japan would probably have a similar rate if a) men were given a chance at custody/could see their kids after divorce b) women were finacially independent.

    What tmarie says is absolutely true. The only reason Japans divorce rate isnt higher is because many women simply feel they cant leave (for all the reasons discussed before). Japan isnt some place that has managed to nail down marriage far better than we have in the west. Quite the opposite in fact. Hence the whole point of this merry widows article.

    My reply to the comments that I was "still" working was to simply smile and say "I know! Im so lucky arent I? A great marriage and family and a job I love! Id hate to be stuck at home dependent on someone else!" or words to that effect. But I swear tmarie a lot of them are actually jealous. Ive had moe than a few admit to me that they would love to have the independence that I have/had, and be able to do what they want, but they just cant stand up to their mother/mother in law/husband - yes, sorry, in my experience there have been several husbands who insist their wives give up work. not so common with younger people though. Certainly couples in their 40s plus. I know of a girl recently who backed out of her engagement because his mother insisted she quit work when she marries her son. Good for her! Although she clearly didnt love the guy enough in the first place if she can opt to just walk away from him rather than telling his mother to stick it.

    I totally agree that the biggest cause of problems for women in Japan are other women, particularly those who have come before and just accepted the status quo. There are exceptions of course, but the vast majority of women still seem to have it drummed into them that they should be a housewife.

    I also totally agree that you should have those conversations about expectations BEFORE marriage. However, what you dont ever bank on is being lied to through your teeth. For example - and getting a little person here for a moment so I apologise, but it illustrates my point perectly - I told my husband I would not accept a J style marriage and if that is the kind of marriage he wants then he should not marry me. I made it CRYSTAL clear. He wholeheartedly agreed, saying he wants a love marriage, not one like his parents. Well, it was 8 months after our wedding when I was pregnant with our first child that I discovered he had been having an affair all through our engagement, marriage, and my pregnancy. Yes, that same guy who looked me in the eye and wholeheartedly agreed with what I had said. I wasnt naive. I covered the bases as best I could but you cant account for someone extremely good at BSing you. We got through it by the skin of our teeth - theres my reference to sheer bloodymindedness and refusal to give up! But just because you have the conversation, doesnt mean the reality will pan out quite like you think it will.

    Marriage is the easy bit when you compare it to when children come along! :)

  • 0

    JoiceRojo

    Certainly I am sure some were pressured to quit - be it husband, boss, parents... but this isn't what this thread is about nor is it my experience here [...]

    This article is exactly abut this, women that were pressured to quiet her jobs to being into a housewife, don't forget that Japanese are still male-chauvinistic about this, so for those that got into this, it's kinda natural to feel liberated after the husband dies. Although the question here is Did they really know what were they getting themselves into when they got married?, surely it was some kind of love or attraction, but they didn't realize the WORK that a marriage means?...

    They haven't woken up to the reality of marriage is in the modern day and only have themselves to blame for that. The cherry picking that goes one here is crazy - wives wanting to stay home and yet expecting husbands to help around the house is just not done in the west. Men help back home because the wife is busy working - and both usually get home at a decent hour so they can both parent together.

    I could not put this better!

    I am certainly not getting upset about ladies who lunch. I just find it pathetic that these women are celebrating the death of someone who did so much for them.

    You are thinking extreme and male-chauvinistic!, the article says "fresh air" not celebrating, not all "celebrate" but it is possible to feel relieved, even though they were supported fully by their husbands, it seems you truly don't know how "macho" can some husbands get, many, let's say, "old-fashion women" were taught to deal with that and suck it up, because this mind set is wired very profoundly in their minds, often reinforced by mothers (both MIL and own) so when their husbands are gone, there is relief in little things, like not to rub their husband's feet everyday for 30 minutes, not to drop everything at home to accompany him to do legal stuff (like renovating driver's license, taking a routine check up, etc), not to cook fresh meals for dinner every night and sometimes eat just re-heated leftovers from lunch, not to be out of home after 8 PM because "what the neighbors and the MIL would think".

  • 0

    Kittychosen

    I may be accused of flippancy but;

    ...for some women (J-) husband's breath is like death...

    Reader, I married him.

  • -3

    tmarie

    But I swear tmarie a lot of them are actually jealous.

    100% agree. If they weren't, why the nasty comment?

    Really sorry to hear about your jerk ex. That's horrible and I don't wish that crap on anyone. Glad you got out and are doing well.

    My FIL is an old fart and tried to tell me after getting married I should quit my job and start being a baby factory. Smiled sweetly and basically told him my life was my life and he has no say. That such talks are between my husband and I and that I won't listen to his comments. He's been watching his eldest son struggle - wife quit the minute they got married, kid came along nearly THREE years after her quitting her job... He now mutters about how stressed his son is because she didn't work, won't work... I'm the golden daughter in law now - though still comments about me becoming a baby factory. You just can't please some folks so there really is no point in trying.

    This article is exactly abut this, women that were pressured to quiet her jobs to being into a housewife, don't forget that Japanese are still male-chauvinistic about this, so for those that got into this, it's kinda natural to feel liberated after the husband dies Um, no. This is about women celebrating the death of their husband. It doesn't state anywhere that these women were "forced" to quit or wanted to have careers. Don't forget that the Japanese are male-chauvinistic? Yes, because as a female, I am sooooo likely to get that PEOPLE, not just the Japanese, are still very chauvinistic. Silly me. Must not forget that.

    **You are thinking extreme and male-chauvinistic!, **

    Yes, because I am a male pig. Buuuuu! Buuuu! How silly of me to suggest that women could be finacially independent and not give into pressure to be a SAHM, do as they like and have a life of their own. What a pig I am!

    Rojo, you know very little about me, my situation and what I know and don't know. You also don't know these women, their lives and their situations. Rubbing feet... Good one. I am sure the majoroty of married wives do this... Could you stop with the assumptions please? It just makes you look silly.

    what the neighbors and the MIL would think". Exactly. Why care about these opinions is exactly my point. You'll see its other women giving the pressure here, not often the men.

    • Moderator

      Enough bickering. Readers, please focus your comments on what is in the story and not at each other.

  • -1

    JoiceRojo

    tmarie, you are taking this personally and seeing offence where is none...

    Yes, because as a female, I am sooooo likely to get that PEOPLE, not just the Japanese, are still very chauvinistic. Silly me. Must not forget that.

    I was not patronizing you, I said that the mind set of the Japanese woman is much more traditionalist and male-chauvinistic oriented, the pressure to be a "housewife" comes from the early years, since they are little, encouraged by the mothers, especially the MIL, the pressure doesn't necessarily mean forced, but you are talking about women that most likely got married 30-40 years ago, you can´t expect that they would file for divorce, get a job etc in the 1970-1980s... and in the 1990s, they are "resigned" to feel chained.

    When I say you are thinking in a male chauvinistic way i meant for you the phrase you said : "someone who did so much for them" referring to the husband who provided everything. I didn't said you were anti-feminist, true i don't know anything about you, I said you are thinking this or that way from inference of what you said, again taking this to the extreme... (If I said "i don't like women playing soccer, it is just not feminine" would you said that i'm chauvinistic?, no it is only my thinking about this topic that's "macho-thinking")

    I come from a family were my grandmother was a matriarch and she raised her boys in a very macho way, she would bicker all the time if my father would held a baby while my mother was washing the diapers (at that time there weren't disposable diapers), my father is unable to cook or do any chores, and even though my mother works and she earns her own money, she would not divorce my father, it is just she's not wired that way... the likeness to a Japanese woman her age is very close... not all CELEBRATE, you know, but some would feel kinda liberated...

  • 0

    Peacetrain

    My FIL is an old fart and tried to tell me after getting married I should quit my job and start being a baby factory. Smiled sweetly and basically told him my life was my life and he has no say......"

    @Tmarie Sounds like you could make a good family sit-com right there.

  • 0

    stormcrow

    My grandpa died when he was in his 60s and my grandma was a good lookin' lady, so I asked her once, "Grandma, why don't you get married again?" I was just a little kid at the time, but my grandma told me, "Once was enough! Why on earth would I want to cook, clean and do the laundry for somebody else?"

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