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Drop in household income puts strain on many marriages

37 Comments

Businesses are curtailing company expenses by cutting back overtime pay, which has impacted the monthly income of salaried workers and changed the after-hour office district atmosphere. Many now head straight for home or go to cheap izakayas under the railroad overpass.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, overtime labor hours have decreased by 45.8% and overtime pay by 44.7%. Not only have commuters increased between 5 and 6 p.m., more men are taking their coworkers home instead of bars for drinks – not exactly a welcome change for housewives.

An IT company employee in his 50s comments that he now gets home by dinner with time to spend with his teenage children, and gives advice on their studies to secure a steady income in the future – an effort that backfired. From the family’s perspective, he is meddling in affairs he was never involved in until then, thus creating a rift in the home and feeling alienated.

A housewife, whose husband is in his 50s and works for a paper manufacturer, complains, “The monthly salary’s been cut by half without overtime pay. My husband now comes home early and just lounges around. He nags about the meal but won’t help with the housekeeping. It’s becoming unbearable.”

Atsuko Okano, who specializes in spousal problems, acknowledges the rise in divorce inquiries related to the loss of household income. It’s a tough situation for company employees with a family, but Professor Masahiro Yamada of Chuo University, who specializes in family sociology, argues that the real problem has to do with the lack of interaction between spouses. “It’s time to review the spousal relationship… and find a new way of living.”

Perhaps salaried workers should consider spending more time to communicate with their wives. It may be worth the effort.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

37 Comments
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Second life second wife, hard to adjust soon...what? for most of the j-workers their 'family' was 'work-place' and their own 'home' was no more than a 'sleeping house'. Now, either there is no work or no place to work and they are 'forced' to return to sleeping house, and want to play the role of Family Head...no quick promotion...!

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Perhaps salaried workers should consider spending more time to communicate with their wives. It may be worth the effort.

Any of us married to j-wives know the reverse would be a great benefit too.

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more men are taking their coworkers home

No wonder their wives aren't pleased.

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Why do you have to spend time with your co-workers after spending 8 hrs in the same office. It is time for the couples to start builöding a real relationship - also in Japan.

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Finally, after working (slaving away) for 30 years, you get to spend time with your family???!!! WTF?!

EUGirl: I can well understand. I like most of my colleagues, but I just don't want to see them on the weekends.

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gives advice on their studies to secure a steady income in the future – an effort that backfired. From the family’s perspective, he is meddling in affairs he was never involved in until then, thus creating a rift in the home and feeling alienated.

Wh-what? Since when does a father's help on childrens' studies constitute as meddling and alienation?

I like how the article suggests more spousal interactions after giving examples on how these said interactions are met with alienation, disdain, and how it's unbearable;

I also like how this article emphasizes more communication with wives instead of more communication in the family itself as if only the husband has the means to do anything, like start a conversation. I think this strain goes much deeper than only "in the family".

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I don't understand some woman who want to get divorced when there are economic hard times. cant she go without her dance lessons, language lessons, LV purse, etc? Cant she go back to work herself? rather get divorced and then they have nothing except what their parents give them? what happens when the economy picks up? try to get the ex husband back or marry some other guy? good luck after punching a kid out and being over 30.

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"No money, no honey" applies in Japan like nowhere else !

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The social contract here is pretty terrible for Joe Salaryman.

He is expected to slave away to support the family and their needs. He pays for home, education, clothes, hobbies and everthing else usually.

The contract says he will work and pay, she will take care of the home and everyone should be happy. In theory. And this has led to dad being just about the last influence on how things run at home as he has traditionally been chained to a desk until late evenings or dragged off to nomikai after work.

No one seemed to question why dad has to work himself into an early grave so his wife can have a great home, afternoon coffee excursions with the other housewives and the kids can have a proper education and spend their free time spending money on shopping around town.

So when Joe salaryman is suddenly home, wants to take an interest in things and still expects Jane Housewife to keep up her end of the social contract, they want him out and are upset.

Well... maybe Jane housewife should give up her 1950's cinderella illusions and get a job to help pay for things now that OT pay is down. And the spoiled kogals and bad haircut teens should get a job to pay for their own shopping. (I cut lawns, did odd jobs and worked for my spending money from a pretty young age.) This would do the current generations a lot of good I think.

And Joe Salaryman should help out when he can around the house.

What Japan needs is a new and modern social contract that reflects reality and not the Donna Reed 1950's TV world that has really been in decline here for some time now.

Otherwise I think Joe Salaryman should leave Jane and the kids to fend for themselves for a few weeks so they will appreciate him and his enslaved work life that supports everything they have.

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maybe Jane housewife should ..... get a job to help pay for things

And maybe there would be jobs to be had if we weren't in a recession and people weren't being laid off. Same goes for 'the spoiled kogals and bad haircut teens should get a job' - with salary cuts, no overtime pay and diminished bonuses, not many of the neighbours are going to be willing to pay to have their lawns cut and their dogs walked. They're being laid off too, so they have the time to do their own odd jobs and no money to pay teenagers.

I must say I don't recognise this 'Donna Reed' life-of-leisure J-housewife. The vast majority of the women I know work and contribute to the family finances. Very, very few live the kind of life posters seem to take to be the norm, leaving aside the part-timers who are now out of work against their will.

As for the drop in income putting a strain on a marriage - the small print says For Better Or Worse. Now is a temporary Worse. Tighten belts, and pull together. Couples who can't do that probably didn't make the most of the Better, either.

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He nags about the meal but won’t help with the housekeeping.

This is the behavior of an idiot. I know a guy like this, and his wife wants to leave him ASAP.

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Cleo,

Very, very few live the kind of life posters seem to take to be the norm

You hit the nail on the head. Most posters here have little knowledge of what average Japanese people actually do all day outside of studying English. You can hardly blame them, though, if their only exposure is their Eikaiwa students, Roppongi, and TV shows that they can't understand.

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"Perhaps salaried workers should consider spending more time to communicate with their wives. It may be worth the effort."

Sounds sensible!

Cleo - "As for the drop in income putting a strain on a marriage - the small print says For Better Or Worse."

This 'for better or for worse' is - to my knowledge - found only in Christian marriages, and nowhere in Japanese marriages, Shinto, Bhuddist or Chapel, hence I don't think it should even be considered when discussing Japanese-Japanese marriages.

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Heck, I'm home by 6pm most evenings, take the baby girl out for a carry-walk around the back streets, come back and bathe her, feed her and put her to sleep, otherwise cook 3 nights a week while my wife (Japanese) does the baby stuff and kicks back.

We both have equal say in most decisions (except when I'm buying her flowers :-), we both do housework, split the bills, and contribute almost equally to baby-related tasks. She cuts me slack, I cut her slack, I go out with my mates, she goes out with her friends, and we have never had a serious argument in 10 years.

It just takes a bit of effort on the part of both partners.

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bottom line is most japanese have nevered even tried to live life as a family, its everyone in there own little worlds with a tiny bit of overlap but not too much otherwise everyone stresses out. Unless they start out living life together its hard to do at a later date.

clearly many j-wives dont want their sodai gomi coming home earlier on a regular basis, especially with a lower amount hitting their accounts each month end

Glad I aint a salary dude, my wife dog & 2 cats always great me in the yard when I pull up, unless its raining

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SushiSake3 -

You'd be surprised at how many young Japanese opt for a Christian-style wedding these days. Whether they mean the vows they take or not is another matter of course (whatever the nationality), but I should say a good half of J-J weddings have the Better or Worse clause. I've been to 2 so far this year, and they both did.

In addition a growing number of those who opt for Shinto/Buddhist weddings take it on themselves to read out their vows before the guests at the reception; and even if they don't specifically mention for Better Or Worse, neither do they specify But Only Until The Going Gets Rough.

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Cleo - point taken. :-)

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Jfamilies have to learn to live within their means. LV purse, latest version of the Nintendo, Ipod latest release are not necessities. Even a nameless bag, if it looks good should be fine :).

We both have equal say in most decisions (except when I'm buying her flowers :-), we both do housework, split the bills, and contribute almost equally to baby-related tasks Employed Jmen do not share in the household chores and making food.If they have to do it, they would go for the option of getting married to even foreign women who are poor and who wouldn`t mind a slave-like life.

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Employed Jmen do not share in the household chores and making food.

Not true. I married one, his Dad was one, son-in-law is one.

These '(insert nationality of choice) are all the same' claims really get up my nose.

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Strain on marraiges?? A lot of (notice I didnt say "all") Japanese marriages I know are pretty empty to begin with.

Dad works 55 hours a week, doesnt do housework, drinks a lot, goes to hostess bars for "business meetings" on a regular basis and has no prominent role in his childrens lives. Husband and wife have little to no intimacy and are more like roomates rather than husband and wife. In some cases the husband has actually been living half way across the country for the last three years. Both husband and wife have long held resentments that have been brewing for years but they dont have the communication skills to actually express their feelings.

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Every change brings strain. People have to adapt! It's not impossible to do. I think the "standard" Japanese family shown in manga, TV and the news can't be too far from the real deal, since Media reflects its society. I always find curious how in most Anime, the parents are completely absent except for a couple of chance-encounters, kids have the keys of their houses and everyone seem to have their own life, merely sharing a house and happy with such an arrangement. That sort of propaganda creates expectations in teens and kids - even in housewives. Crisis always brings out the best of some and the worst of others. It's similar in Latin America with Telenovelas and in the US with soap operas. Some people really think real life should be like those shows!

I think getting back time to share for Japanese families is good but that will only be understood in time, when those involved learn to appreciate each other or better, adapt to each others' needs. When my dad retired, he was a bit depressed till he found new activities and projects to use his energy. He adapted, we adapted and supported him. When my mother retired, it was worse than when dad retired because she tried to run the house like a company (she was always boss in every job she had) and sometimes my dad and I would go around the city in the car just to take a break form her XD. She adapted, refocused her efforts and now we are fine. She helps with administration at the parish church's office and also works as Consultant with a group of colleague friends. My point is, whenever the routine of a home is changed, it takes everyone in the family to adapt and restore harmony. You have to love each other to achieve harmony - and love a lot, because things get ugly sometimes! However, it's not something that happens only in X country - it's the same wherever humans live. I don't think the Japanese are unable to restore harmony in their homes. In time, most families will make it. Crisis can bring good things, too.

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I agree with paddy. I'd say the vast majority of women I've met in Japan have never worked a day since their wedding reception. those in their 60s are especially doom-laden now at the prospect of having to cook 3 meals a day for their soon to be retired husband and are already planning to spend 5 instead of 3 days a week in the local coffee shop talking crap all day rather than spend time with the man who has paid for their hobbies for the past 40 years. oi-vey

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sydenhgam (to cleo);

You hit the nail on the head. Most posters here have little knowledge of what average Japanese people actually do all day outside of studying English. You can hardly blame them, though, if their only exposure is their Eikaiwa students, Roppongi, and TV shows that they can't understand.

Bang on. Throw in the Tokyo-centrism and it's even worse.

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This is completely typical of Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba and Tokyo suburbs

In other words, a part of Japan that is not typical of Japan as a whole. As I mentioned before, I know a couple of women who hung up their working shoes permanently the day he slipped the ring on their finger. The majority may take a few years off while the kids are little, but once Junior is in junior high and the school/juku fees start biting, most Mums go back to work. The graph says it - well, graphically.

http://www.miraikan.go.jp/english/statistics/workingwoman_10.html

In the twenties, some 70% to 75% of women are in employment; with marriage and childbirth, this figure drops to the low 60s and then climbs into the 70s again for women in their 40s and 50s.

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a part of Japan that is not typical of Japan as a whole.

if we are all using broad statements it's ok then

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"I really wonder where some posters who claim they have lived here a long time actually live. Paddy's chalked up 16 years now, and in my little piece of suburbia there is not one housewife with a job that I know of. Not one. They all have kids, well generally kid, and that's it. They do not return to work, or do anything to add to family income. This is completely typical of Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba and Tokyo suburbs".

You might have been here 16 years (I'm on 15 myself) and what you say might be true in, as you say, "... my piece of suburbia". It is probably true, and I don't doubt you at all. But then you go on to say, "... this is completely typical of Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba and Tokyo suburbs". How do you know this for a fact? You've gone out and done some research to back up these claims? Just talking to the average "Jiro Tanaka" doesn't make for an infallible information source. What he might say or claim might not be true for everyone else.

My own wife's mother and father divorced after he lost his job when he made a major mistake and put the family into major debt. I know, through my own work, of women who have divorced husbands over job loss. And I also work with women who work because their husbands simply don't make enough.

Very often in Japan I get the feeling that "oldtimers" here think they know everything and nothing will convince them otherwise, and no one else's opinions matter.

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Cleo, I don't know what world you live in but in my town there are a lot of stay at home wives. Likewise in our social circle there are a lot of stay at home wives, some with kids already gone off to school.

And Sydenham. I don't teach English and never have. I have a significant corporate job and have been in Japan for ten years. Over those years I have met hundreds of Japanese salarymen with stay at home wives in Tokyo alone. About half of those do not even have kids. So before you make idiotic assertions that everyone who disagrees with you is a short term stay English teacher, you may want to spend a lot more time talking to the working men around you and find out what the average wife is up to.

My main point was, and continues to be, if Joe salaryman pays for everything and supports the household he should have the right to be present in it now that the economy is down and he has time to be there. His nagging wife should be grateful for the hard work and income he provides and should be more patient and understanding or get out and support herself if she is so unhappy with him. And the spoiled kids should be grateful that dad cares enough to try to offer advice and guideance, especially when it may help the child avoid some of the pitfalls dad may have slipped into.

Bottom line. There are a lot of families with working couples. But this article is not about them. This article is about the traditional Japanese family structure and their response to having dad at home a lot more. So these comments are directed to that demographic.

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I don't know what world you live in but in my town there are a lot of stay at home wives.

No doubt there are; and the stay-at-home wives are more likely to be noticed because they're the ones you see in the coffee shops, restaurants and parks. The working wives are hidden away in offices and shops and factories - working. The official figures show that even at the height of the child-rearing years over 60% of women work, and that percentage rises ten points or so when the kids hit junior high.

My main point was, and continues to be, if Joe salaryman pays for everything...

In over 70% of households, he doesn't.

That's not to belittle the very, very large financial input most men make to their families. But while he is going off to the office every morning and coming home in the evening to find his house cleaned, his clothes washed, his kids cared for and his dinner on the table, she's doing all that and juggling at least a part-time job. If he's going to be working shorter hours and bringing less money in, it's only fair that he should be prepared to do his share at home, instead of sitting demanding his dinner and cluttering up the living room.

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@cleo-In this diagram :http://www.miraikan.go.jp/english/statistics/workingwoman_10.html

does it state if the women are married, single or divorced? Just asking, that way I can see how your argument stands. Though I do like you last statement. Believe me, I have to put my share of work into the house.

That being said, where I do live in Kanagawa, almost all of the women are stay at home wives and they do not have part time jobs. Some have children, some do not. Most seem irritated that their husbands are home earlier and I can understand that if they are not pitching in. I only know of one woman who does have a part time job but her husband works on base and he is home relatively early compared to the other males that live on my street. So I do have to agree with Paddy and tkoind on some of this, just cause I see it everyday.

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does it state if the women are married, single or divorced?

No it doesn't, and that's a valid point. But the shape of the graph still shows the general overall trend: a high proportion of women of child-bearing age drop out of the work force (presumably to look after the little ones - I do not think this is a Bad Thing) and then go back to work once the kids are taking less of their time and more of their money.

Believe me, I have to put my share of work into the house.

lol. I'm sure you believe you do. I'll believe it when Mrs Ichya says so. :-)

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more than 50% of moms in my son's class (Japanese elementary school) have either a full time job or part time job.. I work full time (and I'm Japanese, have 2 kids), and I always greet my husband at the entrance when he comes home from work.. and I am happy when he is home. I know there are many women who do not want their husbands home but its not just Japanese women. There was one time I told my friend (american woman) I wanted my husband to be home with me on a weekend.. she said I haven't been married long enough lol Anyways... I dont like it when people assume ALL J-women think of their husbands like a burden... because its not true. And more J-couples than you think share house work !! It's probably true than more J-women quit working when they have babies compared to western women, but being with a small child/baby all day long is actually harder than some of you might think.

<<<He nags about the meal but won’t help with the housekeeping. It’s becoming unbearable.”>>>

THAT.. the husband is a jerk.

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He nags about the meal but won't help the housekeeping. It's becoming unbearable ---

THAT ... the husband is a jerk.

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These changes will actually force men to be more responsible at home. The changes will not happen overnight, but in a long run, this is a positive step in identifying priorties. Some couples that are flexable will make it a better marriage, but most likely, divorce will rise in Japan since most men cannot adjust.

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It's amazing how relationship building and communication have become foreign concepts to some people.

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I think it has to do with fertility acceptance, an understanding that we are not all perfect, all of the time, so if you fart when your hubby arrives home oneday, let's hope you both giggle! and just a slight drop in demands on wants, versus needs. I think the money drops puts strain of recent, but the issues are deep-seeded, and need time and care. A lady-my Japanese 'gas lady'- said to me recently that having babies older than 45, was actually common.

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"My husband now comes home early and just lounges around. He nags about the meal but won’t help with the housekeeping. It’s becoming unbearable.”

For God's sake. Send this woman to work and then let's see how much she appreciates working at home too after coming home from work. I really dispise complaining spauses who rely on their husbands daily work but stay at home all day washing dishes. Go get a job at Jonathan's, be on equal terms with your husband...then start to share homework...

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"These changes will actually force men to be more responsible at home. "

Why marry a guy whom you need to force to change? Why women always want to change the guy to their own likeing? We are not a piece of furniture you need to match with the color of the rest of the house.

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