Women vent their anger toward mothers, husbands

TOKYO —

Hatred. Raw hatred. Whom do we hate most? Those closest to us.

“I would gladly give up the inheritance if I could only break of all relations with ‘that woman.’”

“That woman” is the writer’s mother. No other mode of address – certainly not ‘mother,’ does the daughter’s feelings justice. But we must pause to orient the reader.

Shukan Gendai (May 10-17) stumbled on something interesting in the women’s magazine Fujin Koron – a regular feature titled “Dokusha taiken shuki” (“Notes on readers’ personal experiences”). At a different theme each month, readers get the chance to bare their souls – brutally, tenderly or neutrally as the case may be. A typical theme will draw 30-odd contributions. But the theme featured in March drew over 200. It was, “Breaking off relations with your family.” Evidently it struck a chord.

Is family a nest or a prison? There are no nest stories in Shukan Gendai’s account – it’s all prison.

Back now to “that woman.” You wonder, reading the story, what all the fuss is about. Much ado about nothing, an outsider would say. But what can an outsider know?

The writer is a 48-year-old housewife in Shizuoka – old enough, you’d think, to have put it all behind her. But to her – and this seems typical – it might have happened yesterday, or rather it never stopped happening, and far from fading with the years, her anger intensifies.

She recalls for Fujin Koron an episode involving a cousin who’d just graduated from a national university and was coming to town for a visit. The cousin’s mother, the writer’s aunt, asked the writer to show her around; the writer refused on the grounds she’d recently had a car accident and was not yet back on her feet. Here the writer’s mother, the aunt’s sister, intervened: “You’re just jealous because you only graduated from junior college!”

“All my hatred for ‘that woman’ just exploded in me,” the writer wrote in Fujin Koron. It came to blows; the writer left home and never looked back – theoretically. Does anyone ever really leave home? The reader can’t help wondering, given the vehemence of the recollection.

A 50-year-old housewife in Akita reserves her most vicious spite for her daughter’s mother-in-law. It all came out lately but had been building for years. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the mother-in-law’s tardy thanks for the traditional “chugen” summer gift. “Why didn’t she acknowledge it the same day?”

The writer realized herself that the true cause of her violent feelings lay elsewhere. It went back to her daughter’s wedding. There was her daughter – “I raised her so lovingly!” – surrounded by her new husband’s family, everyone laughing, while she, the bride’s mother, felt desolately left out: “Everyone ignored me. They took my daughter away from me.”

Husbands. Can husbands escape the vituperation? They cannot. Husbands are guilty of many sins toward their wives, and are hated for many reasons. With lack of space limiting us to one, which is choice-worthy? The mother complex? Why not?

This writer is from Aichi, a 51-year-old nurse. She married at 31 – an arranged marriage. She and her husband had two kids, but “marital sex ended 18 years ago. I should have known,” she adds ruefully. Yes, it should have been obvious when her husband remarked at the wedding, “Now I have two mothers.” His meaning sank in slowly. Her revenge, when she set about getting it, was a kind of ritual husband-murder. It took the form of multiple affairs – in love hotels, parking lots, on the roofs of unfamiliar apartment buildings, it hardly mattered where.

And so it goes. “This is what women are really thinking,” comments Shukan Gendai. “This is the feminine world that men don’t know about. It’s terrifying.

Japan Today

  • -2

    gogogo

    Drama

  • 5

    Alphaape

    “I would gladly give up the inheritance if I could only break of all relations with ‘that woman.’”

    If this story is true, she can easily do that, just don't talk to her. It seems that she is more concerned about the iinheritance and that probably is the root cause of her angst against her mother, her feeling that somehow she should be entitled to something.

    If you really hate her, you wouldn't take her money.

  • 3

    papigiulio

    Yes, it should have been obvious when her husband remarked at the wedding, “Now I have two mothers.”

    LOL. Why on earth would you say that on your wedding day.

  • 2

    semperfi

    @ papgiullo: because her husband was enmeshed with his own mother. . . A very common phenomenon

  • 5

    Peacetrain

    Japanese never forget a wrong.

    Okay, some Japanese. There are some scary self-righteous women out there.

    But no sex and "two mothers"? Weird. Really, there are some totally weird spouses out there.

    Just make sure you don't marry one!

  • 0

    sighclops

    Husbands are guilty of many sins toward their wives, and are hated for many reasons.

    I mean c'mon...

  • 3

    Neo_Rio

    LOL. Why on earth would you say that on your wedding day.

    Absolutely. A bit late to discover that he was set-up to be a slave to two women. She should have run away from the wedding.

    Husbands are guilty of many sins toward their wives, and are hated for many reasons.

    If they're guilty of not making enough money, not giving all of it to their wife, not doing what they are told, not spending time with their wife, or arguing too much, not saying "I love you" enough and being deliriously happy with their poor treatment, then they're guilty of trying to get away from their slave-driving wives.

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    All I can say is that a man or woman who would bother reading such rags and then mail in to complain about a 'prison' that they can easily 'escape' from deserves what they have. The women whose comments are mentioned in this article chose their own fate, and are simply bitter about it and focussing their rage on other, easy targets instead of making their own lives better. "They STOLE my daughter from me and laughed and had fun while I had to sit in the background and watch!" Well, why didn't you go over and join in? because you WANTED to be the victim! "My husband said I'm like a mother so I slept around with countless men!" Hope it helped you get over your ego.

  • 3

    CrazyJoe

    You'd be wise to simply listen. Anger expressed is anger defused.

  • 2

    commanteer

    Unhappy people will often blame those close to them rather than look at themselves. It really may be the case that the mother is an awful person. Even then, the best thing to do is to break free. The chains are usually in your head.

    Does anyone ever really leave home? The reader can’t help wondering

    No. The effects of a really bad parent never completely go away.

  • 1

    GW

    These sorts of "problems" are extremely common in these woods, watch out there people, good grief as Charlie Brown would say!

  • 3

    AlexNoaburg

    Problem in Japanese culture is a blind adherence to rules. Should this, should that. People are not perfect, certain rules, customs are interpreted and ascribed value differently. Forgive and forget and move on. Holding resentment without communicating and working toward a solution is self destructive. Imo Japanese culture's strictures of the rules leads to the unhappy society it is, without trust and full of hate

  • 5

    Novenachama

    Handling anger is an important life skill. Anger can shatter communication and tear apart relationships, and ruin the joy and health of many. Sadly people tend to justify their anger instead of accepting responsibility for it. Everyone struggles to varying degrees, with anger. Thankfully anger can be handled and overcome by following four basic rules of communication. First. Be honest and speak. People cannot read our minds. We must speak the truth in love. Second. Stay current . We must not allow what is bothering us to build up until we lose control. It is important to deal with what is bothering us before it reaches critical mass. Third. Attack the problem, not the person. Fourth. Act, don't react. Finally we must act to solve our part of the problem. We cannot control how others act or respond, but we can make the changes that need to be made on our part. Thus we may have allowed anger to become entrenched in our lives by habitual practice, however we can also practice responding correctly until that too, becomes a habit

  • 2

    sensei258

    @ Novena - Well said. We should also note that it's what you do with your anger that's the problem, not the anger itself.

  • 1

    Richard Wood

    As my Dad instructed me, never go to bed mad and upset as a small problem will fester and infect your body, mind, and soul and become a much bigger problem. And when discussing a problem, the 1st person to raise their voice has lost. 40+ years later, these words of wisdom still hold true!

  • -1

    Alphaape

    the bride’s mother, felt desolately left out: “Everyone ignored me. They took my daughter away from me.”

    It would be interesting to note how the mother reacted with her in-laws during her marriage. I think this may be a case of envy somewhat, the daughter is marrying someone whose family is willing to accept her and treat her as one of their own. And not as some outsiders. I think that the mother may feel that she is being left out. But if she did raise her in a caring manner, then she should be proud. Never understood how just becuase you marry one person, somehow people think that you have to forget your own family. Nothing to do with competition. I have had to go to two family reunions at the same time and each family (mother's side/father's side) understood that I had obligations to both and had no problems.

    Maybe this lady needs to understand that. Or she may be upset because her daughter has finally gotten away from her and all of her emotional "baggage" with a clear head.

    Many dynamics to family interaction. As the saying goes, you can't pick which family you are born into, but that doesn't mean that you have to turn out just like them. The ability to change is up to the individual.

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