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59% of 'salarymen' find family life more exhausting than work

66 Comments

A family seems like such a good idea. A spouse you love, a child or children to link you to the future, a home that is a refuge from the myriad cares of the outside world – and so on and so on. Why does it turn out so disastrously?

That must be qualified. There are, presumably, happy families out there – you just have to look for them.

Spa! (Aug 25) doesn’t. On the contrary, its theme is family unhappiness – more accurately, family “weariness.” It polls, first of all, 2,000 married men aged 30-49: “Does your family make you tired?” Yes, say 1,180 – 59%. The 41% who say no are a minority, but a not insignificant one – so it’s not all bad. Spa! then pursues 500 among the 1,180, probing for details. As you read them, you can’t altogether suppress the thought, the heartening minority notwithstanding: What a life-crushing, soul-stifling institution the family is!

What is it about family life that crushes and stifles? Ranking first and second among respondents are a wife whose demands or moods cause, or intensify, exhaustion; and – surprisingly perhaps, coming in far ahead of seemingly grosser irritants like the sexless marriage (ranking third), an insufficiency of free time (fourth), money worries (seventh) and having to care for aging parents (ninth) – is “interference from, or continuing dependency on, one’s parents.”

“She’s impossible to please!” is a recurring complaint. You come home from a hard day’s work – 12, 13 or 14 hours’ worth, as often as not – to a wife who sounds more like a boss than a tender, loving life companion. If you don’t help with the housework, you’re a deadbeat; if you do, you’re a bungler.

“Mr Takahashi,” 34, took paternity leave when his wife gave birth, only to find himself more a hindrance than a help, in his wife’s eyes. Quarrels over the merest trifles grew explosive. The couple pulled back from the brink of divorce, but affection between them is pretty well dead, and what’s left? A lifetime of putting up with each other for the child’s sake?

That’s sad but at least benign. Then there’s “Mr Fukami,”39. “I liked her for her strong character,” he says, recalling feelings for his wife earlier in their relationship. Now he wishes he’d read the danger signals better. The “strong character” is diabolic – she douses him with hot water, or throws furniture at him, when he fails to fold a towel to her satisfaction. (Spa! doesn’t give us her story.) He finally resolved on divorce when she locked their child out of the house in mid-winter. Who gets the child is not mentioned.

Then there are parents. You’re grown up and on your own, but either they fail to realize it and distance themselves accordingly, or else you yourself are so psychologically dependent on them that you’re the one who can’t let go. This is not surprising, Spa! hears from a trio of psychologists it speaks to. Men now in their 30s and 40s grew up with dad so busy at work as to be quasi-absentee, with mother and son clinging to each other for mutual support and developing various complexes as the years passed.

Some parents, made use of as babysitters for the grandchildren, demand in return a say in how the grandchildren are raised, to the irritation of their own children, the grandchildren’s parents. Are the grandparents being utterly unreasonable? Who’s to say? Then there’s “Mr Yoshikawa,” at age 32 having to deal with a daily barrage of email from mom: “Are you all right?” “Have you eaten?” – and so forth.

“Mr Hosaka,” 34, has a slightly different problem. His parents have a newspaper distribution business operating out of their home in the country somewhere, which they want their son to take over. He’s busy in the city and wants no part of it. “Lately they’ve changed tactics,” Hosaka sighs. “Instead of going after me, they go after my wife and child, talking up how good life is in the country…”

The cumulative effect of Spa!’s anecdotes is to make you wonder: Who invented the family, anyway?

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

66 Comments
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Sounds like there are plenty of spoiled folks, both men and women, who are getting married and having kids.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

There's a book of plays written by Lawrence Ferlinghetti called 'Unfair Arguments with Existence'. I think many of the issues listed here fall under that title. Maybe someone can write some plays about fair arguments with my culture (everyone’s) and the ridiculous things I think I’m compelled to do to conform to its dictates.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The “strong character” is diabolic – she douses him with hot water, or throws furniture at him, when he fails to fold a towel to her satisfaction. (Spa! doesn’t give us her story.) He finally resolved on divorce when she locked their child out of the house in mid-winter. Who gets the child is not mentioned.

I hope the child goes with a grandparent or some other loving relative, neither of these two, the sperm-donor, nor egg incubator are deserving of having a child to raise.

3 ( +5 / -3 )

“Does your family make you tired?”

Ask a loaded question.....

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Boss: "I need those accounts by the end of today, and then attend a division-wide obligatory drinking session."

Salaryman: "Yay"

Son: "Dad, I need you to take me to baseball practise."

Salaryman: "WHY DO THE HEAVENS PUNISH ME?"

17 ( +21 / -4 )

The anacdotes are interesting but I would prefer an extensive scientific study before I believe any of this.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Gotta admit, the nagging wife does me in every time. I've gotten into the habit of grabbing a combini beer before stepping foot inside the house.

19 ( +24 / -5 )

@ kickboard - I feel your pain. I don't do that on a regular basis. But, there was one time where I'd had a few and was feeling pretty good. The wife started in...and I started laughing at her. That didn't help things, but when she started smacking me, I laughed even harder 'cuz I couldn't feel it.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Many people really shouldn't have families.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Sexless and loveless marriages where men prefer to be at work? That sounds about right for a country where arranged marriages are still popular and many women are desperate to marry and have kids so they can become the 'mother' and 'financial manager' of their unloved and unappreciated baby-maker and financial sponsor spouse. My ex-wife (Japanese) often asked me, "Why are you home? Shouldn't you be working?" (on Sundays).

18 ( +25 / -8 )

Want to be happily married in Japan? Find the laziest woman. Pure bliss. :)

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Want to be happily married in Japan? Find the laziest woman. Pure bliss. :)

I'm happily married, and my wife is not lazy by any means.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Coming in at number two irritant is “interference from, or continuing dependency on, one’s parents.”

I think gaijins who marry Japanese get away with a lot of it, but many Japanese really do marry into someone else's family. It means taking on huge responsibilities and expectations that may go way beyond the spouse's and create tension between the couple. Some families seem to view themselves as minor royalty whose great traditions are to be upheld. I doubt my marriage would last if I had to live with my inlaws.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I'm happily married, and my wife is not lazy by any means.

link please

0 ( +0 / -0 )

.....and the other 41% of us work our BUTTS off, to have the money our families need to survive, and the WIFE walks out instead.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Family life is tiring? Hey, it goes both ways. Singleton life can be exhausting. I've just spent 10 days with my new honey on the beaches of southern Europe, and although it was wonderful, I'm really glad to get back to default mode/working life in Japan. The pressure to be "on" all the time was enormous. Sometimes I wish I could just let it all go, blimp out, and worry no more about how I look in a bikini. On that point, I envy you happily-marrieds.

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

I'm happily married, and my wife is not lazy by any means

Neither is mine. It was meant as a figure of speech. Bad word choice on my part.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Tolstoy begins Anna Karenina with: "All happy families are alike. Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Reading through the responses to this article i am beginning to wonder if in Japan all unhappy families are the same. Is marriage in Japan all that dismal?

I have a happy marriage. My wife and I hate being separated from each other. We are both professionals. My Japanese family members are my best friends. We are doing work that we like. It may be pure luck that this life felt into my lap. Are happy families in Japan happy in their own way?

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Ha-ha . . . I knew it. Not many happy people. They just all appear to be happy for sake of "saving face" or putting up with each other for the child's sake. What a lie.

No wonder population decline. No wonder most young japanese prefer to be single.

In the US, most marriages end in divorce simply cause we don't like to put up with repetitive crap & drama. Perhaps japanese should start divorcing more too (if they've been unhappy for yrs).

Losing your significant other won't matter. It is "YOU" who will be re-discovered.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

You can see a lot of happy couples in Japan. It just happens that they are young and not yet married.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

As I have always said Japanese aren't "happy" unless everyone else is sufficiently miserable!

3 ( +9 / -6 )

You can see a lot of happy couples in Japan. It just happens that they are young and not yet married. as one poster put it , let them get married and they can all be miserable like the rest of us

5 ( +6 / -1 )

This is just my personal experience, but of my married friends, the ones that are the happiest are where both are working and in separate jobs/lines of work.

Those that work together often spend private time working or thinking about business...so not enough play. For the housewives I know, they are obviously busy...but some seem bored and just fall into habit of being naggy/micromanaging everything because that's "their job".

I'm not saying that being a housewife is easy work, but that the housewives in my circle of friends tend to bring up how hard and difficult their lives are as a housewife...

I always get in hot water for saying "My wife does all that too, but she also works...if it's so difficult you could get a part time job and put the kids in preschool during the day...or coordinate with your husband and do housework together."

I always get the classic response "This is Japan, you just don't understand"

4 ( +8 / -4 )

You can see a lot of happy couples in Japan. It just happens that they are young and not yet married.

I'll tell you a secret: the happiest couples I've ever met in Japan were married, all right ... just not to each other!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Of course family life is more exhausting. Work is routine and brainless for most people. Just turn up, punch in, do the business and go home.

Family life is fraught, delicate and (often) wonderful. You can't play it by numbers. Which is surely a good thing....

9 ( +9 / -0 )

My ex-wife (Japanese) often asked me, "Why are you home? Shouldn't you be working?" (on Sundays).

Which happens to be double-speak for, "Dude you are screwing with my free time, get the hell outta here"

Want to be happily married in Japan? Find the laziest woman. Pure bliss. :)

BS....Want to be happily married in Japan, it's the same as anywhere, respect!

My wife is Japanese, and I've been married, excuse me, will be married for 30 years next year. She isnt lazy, and I find it rather ignorant of someone to suggest otherwise.

You get what you choose, but if you have no communication, nor respect for one another, things are going to get nasty somewhere down the line.

I'm happily married, and my wife is not lazy by any means.

More power to ya! Dont let the bgm bother ya! Keep on doing what's right for ya'll.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

"Some parents, made use of as babysitters for the grandchildren, demand in return a say in how the grandchildren are raised, to the irritation of their own children"

What? How is that being unreasonable? If I am raising Kid-A then by definition, I am having say how he/she is raised. Nippon is doomed...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It's taken me twenty years of marriage to learn to appreciate my wife. She's not just beautiful, she's clever and witty (English-style sarcasm) and elegant and loyal to the point of madness.

I so regret my "salary-man" days when I spent my evenings carousing with idiots whio I didn't even like, rather than going home on time....

14 ( +14 / -0 )

I'll tell you a secret: the happiest couples I've ever met in Japan were married, all right ... just not to each other!

No secret Tessa. And you're making an excellent point. Rest ¥2,800. Stay ¥7,500. . . . As if this is a secret-

2 ( +7 / -5 )

"You come home from a hard day’s work – 12, 13 or 14 hours’ worth"

This is ridiculous - go home after 8 or 9 hours. If the company doesn't like it, quit.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

This is ridiculous - go home after 8 or 9 hours. If the company doesn't like it, quit.

If you have a good home, you can have a good job, if you have a good job, you have a good home. The two are intertwined together.

II shigoto ga aru kara ii katei mo dekiru. ii katei ga aru kara ii shigoto mo dekiru!

When 5:30 rolls around NO ONE bitches or complains if anyone goes home. When there is work to do, we ALL do it, but if each person's job is finished for the day....GET THE FRICK OUTTA HERE...take care of the family, and the family will help take care of the "job".

And yes I work for a JAPANESE company!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

BS....Want to be happily married in Japan, it's the same as anywhere, respect!

Yubaru, did you not read all of the posts? Your quoting my first post but failed to read my following post where I admit it was a bad word choice.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Your quoting my first post but failed to read my following post where I admit it was a bad word choice.

Inferring that your wife is lazy? Then coming back and saying the following....

Neither is mine. It was meant as a figure of speech. Bad word choice on my part.

Bad word choice? Figure of speech? Just what do you mean by "figure of speech" or "bad word choice?" Your responses seem pretty clear.

I read your posts and neither are "respectful" of any spouse.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

I'm just trying to tell the truth. My wonderful lazy friend (and I don't mean lazy in the sense that she don't work, just that she is not anal about everything) is wonderful. FU with your judgments.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

What everyone here fails to notice is that males have to cope with two kinds of very different stress: the work stress, while at work, and the child rearing while at home. So yea, that's why family life can be very stressful, as there's no way to let out steam...

1 ( +4 / -3 )

That’s sad but at least benign. Then there’s “Mr Fukami,”39. “I liked her for her strong character,” he says, recalling feelings for his wife earlier in their relationship. Now he wishes he’d read the danger signals better. The “strong character” is diabolic – she douses him with hot water, or throws furniture at him, when he fails to fold a towel to her satisfaction. (Spa! doesn’t give us her story.)

Mr.Fukami might be in the lockup already for DV if he would do the same treatment to his "strong" wife.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Which is why I'm single and will remain so till the day I die. Too many people decide to get married without seeing the arguments and frustration that marriage entails. Myopic naivety if you ask me. Those who manage to have a happy marriage despite the potential hardships were, no surprise, already content before deciding to tie the knot, ie. they had their s... together in other areas of their lives. If husbands prefer work to a place that is supposed to bring them joy and comfort, then there's something seriously wrong. Bottom line, not everybody is meant to get married and be a parent. I'm often asked ''but won't you feel lonely in your twilight years?'' Well, I'll take my chances. I cherish my freedom and peace of mind.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@kennyiyekawa

What? How is that being unreasonable? If I am raising Kid-A then by definition, I am having say how he/she is raised. Nippon is doomed...

If his in laws are anything like mine, the grandma watches the kid for one hour, two or three times a year and expects that to be enough reason for me to have to listen to every single complaint she has about how I raise my children. If I lived back home overseas I could have a friend or a neighbor watch my toddler for an hour if absolutely necessary (like when I got an MRI) but unless you've got REALLY close friends with children, immediately family is all you've got. I avoid having anyone watch my daughter now unless it's an emergency. The husband and I had her watch her (she's nearly 2 now) for an hour on our anniversary so we could have dinner a few buildings down from our home and months later she's still talking about how 'indulgent' it is to leave a child so 'young' for any amount of time. I don't know the details of the person in the story, but a lot of grandmothers here use the occasional short babysitting session as a reason to control everything about their son/daughters family. Not all, but a lot.

As for the rest of the article, I definitely can sympathize with these men but they don't tell the woman's side of the story at all. My husband works so hard, though at a job he loves (rare for japan)... he's gone 4 or so nights a week for business meetings and nomikais with his bosses and he's out of the country for weeks, occasionally months at a time. I feel really bad that he has to be away from our daughter (who he loves) for so long. I try my best not to nag him but there are some days when I've been dealing with a screaming toddler from dawn until dusk, cleaning up the same sticky messes and pee covered towels and dirty dishes every hour of every day, not to mention having to wake up every few hours to calm a frightened child in a noisy city like Tokyo... can't even pee by myself without my kid trying to unroll the toilet paper... Among a million other things - It's sometimes hard not to snap, especially when both of us have had a bad day.

Life is hard, and it's hard for everyone. And raising a family should be exhausting, otherwise you're not doing it right. All you need is a heaping dose of empathy and a little support from your spouse so everyone can get a break. Sorry this was really long, I've had a bad day lol

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Today, I found out that my husband ripped out and discarded a plant outside of mine. Years ago, I would have really gotten angry and hurt and it would have led to a fight. Decades into a marriage, I am planning to simply write a note explaining what that "weed looking plant in the white planter" was. I am not going to verbally discuss it. It is a better choice to write about that type of plant and tell him why it is in the shade like that. Its season finished, it is blissfully waiting quietly for next spring. It does look like a weed and is hard for me to get. I think I rescued it. Point of story is that as we age, we become more able to see what is important. Sure, I am annoyed by the action, but I realize it was an honest mistake and he was actually trying to help, with an unfortunate consequence. By yelling, I will not only start to hate that plant anyway, I will lose his desire to help. In the end, I lose too much. So, a note with the plant's description is easier. Live and learn and forgive and help. Marriage.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

One problem is that Japanese women can be incredible whingers.

They just love moaning on and on about something or other.

Then, a female friend telephones and some magical switch is flicked and instantaneously they are transformed into sweetness and light and happiness for the friend.

Then the phone call ends and it's back to the moaning old harridan...

4 ( +9 / -5 )

@warispeace and Tessa, good ones!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

google "stippy sexless marriage japan" and read not the article but the comments to see what marriage to a Japanese is often like ...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Finance: #1 cause of discourse in marriage. A stay at home wife doesn't have her own finance A Salaryman doesn't make enough for her Wife at home is bored and takes it out on the husband. Women, get out if the house and work. Something has to give. It is either your ancient need to care for kids or your marriage.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Women, get out if the house and work.

Yes! I will never stop working (earning money) until the day I die.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Anthony Lawson

Finance: #1 cause of discourse in marriage. A stay at home wife doesn't have her own finance A Salaryman doesn't make enough for her Wife at home is bored and takes it out on the husband. Women, get out if the house and work. Something has to give. It is either your ancient need to care for kids or your marriage.

Yes because who on earth would want to raise their own children when they could dump them off on someone else? The nerve of these parents.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hardly surprising, extend this question to the rest of the devoloped world countries and it would probably also result in 60%

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'm lucky, I guess. I have a great wife and we have all kinds of plans for the future. I wish my kids would do stuff with us but they're old enough (18 and 20) that it's a chore for them to hang out with Mom and Dad. I'd spend more time with my family if I could.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Like in all aspect of life you get what you settle for, put up or shut up as my Gran would say!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

For 25 years my wife and I were blissfully happy. And then we met.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

One problem is that Japanese women can be incredible whingers. They just love moaning on and on about something or other.

I hate to have to tell you this, but it's not only J-females.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I have no problem with my Japanese wife, I guess its because I moved her to the states, she doesn't work and life is grand. Flip the script and move out of the country where her mind set can change and she can see another world if not you are trapped in her world!!!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@lolozo79

Bottom line, not everybody is meant to get married and be a parent. I'm often asked "but won't you feel lonely in your twilight years?" Well, I'll take my chances. I cherish my freedom and peace of mind.

Exactly. I always reply, "You have a spouse and children now, but do you have any guarantee that you won't feel lonely in YOUR twilight years?" Who can say what the future will bring? I know lots of elderly people who were married, but their spouse has died, or had children, but they moved away or just don't take the time to visit. Having a family is no guarantee of happy twilight years. Better to just build the best life you can, whether that's as a married or single person.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So depressing. Many people choose misery as normalcy. What a sick picture of life this portrays. "Man hands on misery to man. It deepens like a coastal shelf. Get out as early as you can, And don't have any kids yourself...” as the poem goes.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Most of the Japanese couples I know are happily married. Not to say that they never argue, but they work things out. I think the problem may be with the position of salaryman. It seems to be a position that makes family life difficult.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Because so many of them do sod all at work anyways.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

what about the survey for "salarywomen"? interesting.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@savethegaijin

Life is hard, and it's hard for everyone. And raising a family should be exhausting, otherwise you're not doing it right. All you need is a heaping dose of empathy and a little support from your spouse so everyone can get a break.

Amen! Kindness goes a long way.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

raising a family should be exhausting, otherwise you're not doing it right.

Ridiculous.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

i'm married and we're happy. sure it's not all easy and rosey but hey, we wouldn't take it in any other way!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

After you have a child in Japan, most Japanese women carry a big hammer. There is no finesse. These women only go on one speed with big teeth. How can you make these women more diplomatic?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It seems a major part of stress is this almost obligation to have kids after you're married. My partner and I are DINKS ( double income no kids) and it's awesome. Separate jobs and schedules so we don't spend every waking hour together, and plenty of income to enjoy the time we do have together. Kids would just get in the way.

If you really love kids then great, but It really feel that many people who have kids just did it because they are somehow expected to have kids after marriage

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I used to get home, get a "PAPA" from the kids, lots of hugs and kisses... And then they grow up, they move out, they get a life of their own. I'm lucky I think because I did it all pretty early on so I am still young enough to enjoy the rest of my life. But getting home to nothing, that would really be exhausting...

I am definitely in the 41 %...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If you really love kids then great, but It really feel that many people who have kids just did it because they are somehow expected to have kids after marriage

I agree. Pressure from society isn't a good reason to have kids. People should only have them if they really want them, and are prepared to make the sacrifices required in order to be a good parent.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@PeaceWarrior

Exactly! I love my wife very, very much. But after my daughter moves to Tokyo next March, what are we going to do? What are we going to talk about?

This is where gate ball comes from... terrifying. : (

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@lucabrasi

Gateball... Nooooooooooo!

We're talking about taking vacations abroad, but we can't decide on the same destination!! So maybe gateball it will be in the end.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@PeaceWarrior

Let me guess... Lithuania or Guam? Slovakia or Hawaii?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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