Relationships are complicated.
My girlfriend and I are coming up on two years since we first started seeing each other. We’ve had our ups and downs, things have been on and off, but when my parents came to visit me in Osaka a while ago, I decided the time was right to introduce them to her.
There were a couple of complicating factors, however, that I’m sure a number of you have encountered in your relationships here.
My girlfriend is an amazing woman. She’s beautiful, intelligent, funny, kind and a multitude of other wonderful things. However, she led a rather sheltered life up until she met me. She’s lived in and around Nagano her entire life, doesn’t speak English (though she is trying to learn) and has — so far at least — never ventured outside of Japan. People who know me know that I am outspoken, I love traveling and adventure.
I guess we’re the classic example of the old adage that “opposites attract.”
My parents, for their part, are well-traveled, smart and wonderfully kind and compassionate — but they haven’t really lived abroad like I have, so maybe I’m a bit too sensitive when it comes to trying to help them fit in when they come here. I shouldn’t push them too hard. After all, they’ve only visited Japan a few times. I’ve lived here on and off for 12 years and I still haven’t grasped many of the intricacies of culture and etiquette.
Anyway, a lot of planning, and a great deal of improvisation went into preparing for our first weekend together. Some things went exactly according to plan, others didn’t. However, overall, we had a great time and my parents and my partner hit it off brilliantly.
So, with that particular potential hazard navigated successfully, what advice would I give to fellow foreigners in Japan preparing to introduce their local partner to their family? Here are my five top tips to help you survive the big reveal.
1. Choose an unfamiliar venue
At the end of the day, there’s a certain nervousness and anxiety that comes with introducing your parents to your partner in Japan. However, if you hold the meeting at a sort of “neutral” venue, for example one that you haven’t been to with your partner before, then it kind of levels the playing field to some extent. It helps foster a feeling that we’re all embarking on a new adventure together.
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