It's been six years since Yoshiko, now age 42, wed her husband, who is two years her senior. When she turned 38, she began thinking about having a child, but he refused. Currently, both of them are working at full-time jobs.
"Around the time when he started using a 'gara-kei' (old-type cell phone), he'd return home and pore over a manga while eating his supper," she tells Nikkan Gendai (Jan 28), in an article titled "Smartphones are becoming the trigger for divorces."
"More and more, I began to think about what a dull person he was," Yoshiko continues, "but rather than complain to him about it, I just didn't let it get to me. Then two years ago, he upgraded to a smartphone, and now when we're together, I tell him off."
It seems that Yoshiko's hubby is completely hooked on games he plays on his phone. On weekends, he explained to her, "I play against other players online, and they can't start until I log on."
She became infuriated when she called him to the dinner table and he disregarded her, playing for two more hours before he finally coming to the table. After finishing the meal in silence, he returned to his game. A few days later he told her, "I want to play games, so on weekdays, let's take our meals separately."
But the straw that broke the camel's back and made her question why they even stayed together was caused by Internet shopping.
"I ordered a five-cup capacity rice steamer, which is suitable for a two-person household," says Yoshiko, explaining "I want to eat tasty rice from breakfast." But his reaction was, "In the morning I prefer bread," upon which he ordered an electric hot sandwich maker.
"Right while I was in the midst of cleaning up the kitchen, he came in and said, 'I'm going to make the fixings for a hot sandwich and a salad. You'll like it too. He occupied the kitchen for an hour, and never discussed it. Now I see him as 'sodai-gomi' (oversized rubbish)."
Once when the couple were eating out together at Yoshiko's favorite restaurant, her husband made disparaging remarks about the food and service, of the kind critics post on blogs, saying things like "The meat appears to have been falsely labeled."
"Even our conversations now mostly concern topics he picked up on the Internet," Yoshiko says."
In an attempt to smooth things over, the couple discussed taking a trip together. To Europe, he said. "I like Asia," she replied. "We talked about this before, you remember?"
"I don't recall," he said. End of conversation.
While he's absorbed in his smart phone, he doesn't listen to a word she says, and she's had it.
"There is such a thing as women's talk, but there's not really such a thing as men's talk," says Kim Myong-Gan, a sexual anthropologist. "In the digital era, smartphones have become a social necessity, but women retain vestiges of the old analog. They want to engage in real voice conversations.
"At the polar opposite you'll find males who are poor at communication; they become absorbed in digital, and are content with exchanging messages via smartphone," Kim adds, saying such introverted behavior is particularly widespread in males who are only children or a youngest son, with a wide age gap from older siblings.
"In families with both spouses working and the wives earning over five million yen per year, it's different however; for these women it may lead to 'smartphone divorce.'"
"'Hating their husband's smartphone' is not a reason for divorce per se, but smartphones can be the trigger for mistrust," says marriage counselor Semiko Yamazaki. "The other day I talked with a woman in her 30s who told me, 'After my husband loses a game, he screams at our two-year-old.' I'm worried this will have a bad effect on our child, so I've decided to leave him.' The woman also works at a full-time job.
Smartphones and spouses who work is turning out to be a toxic combination, Nikkan Gendai warns.© Japan Today