lifestyle

Love in Japan: Common post-honeymoon stage issues

32 Comments
By Hilary Keyes

So you’ve been dating your Japanese partner for a while now and lately you’ve started to notice that things are settling into a routine between you two. The little things start to crop up in your relationship; comments that wouldn’t have bothered you get you thinking and things that you wouldn’t normally consider a problem might suddenly lead to a huge blow out.

For most couples this is when relationships either move into a serious territory or begin to fall apart. Based on my own experiences, the most common post-honeymoon problems for international couples in Japan tend to fall into four major categories, of which any combination of the issues is possible. Here they are.

Unintentionally Cruel Comments

When the facade of being the perfect partner falls away and the reality of both people comes to the surface, people might start to make comments — saying things that, while somewhat true, are still hurtful in the way that they are expressed. My Japanese ex once blew me away by saying that I looked like a Halloween goth, and that I dressed like I was going to a funeral. After first feeling hurt and then getting angry, I managed to ask him what he meant, and it turned out that he was simply worried that I was depressed — that that was why I was wearing so much black. He associated black with depression, and just assumed that my keen fashion sense meant I wanted to hide in my room all day. I had to explain to him that I just like black, and that I was not even close to being depressed.

What to do when this happens? Comments on one’s style, weight, looks, jobs, and so on, or jokes that seem to cut a little more deeply that before, might be coming from a place of genuine care, but could lead to a break-up thanks to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. You should remember that this is a sign of closeness — your partner is finally getting in a comfortable zone that allows some funny jokes at your expense and you are finally getting ready to feel offended by them and express your anger. Couples that have just started dating don’t usually have this. Return the joke (come on, we all have a few things we can make fun of each other; any signs of him getting bald lately?) and remind him that you also see his weak sides, too. If you feel offended, express it and teach him the things that get on your nerves. Show him the red signs to avoid similar accidents in the future and if you both are real, you’ll learn to either avoid such comments or have a good laugh about them.

On the other hand, it should go without saying though that if someone is constantly putting you down, making hurtful comments or otherwise making you feel inadequate, you should get as far away from them as possible right away.

Weight Gain

You go out for dinner, drinks, meet for coffee, enjoy Christmas cakes together and so on — is it any wonder that you might find yourself, and your partner, gaining a little weight together? Given how difficult it can be to find reasonably-sized clothing here, this is understandably a problem for some of us ladies, while gaining weight might make him feel displeased with himself, or less like the man he was before you started dating. You may find yourself unhappy with your appearance and commonly grumpy, while he might start making comments about wanting to work out more, or spend more time at the gym. One of you might suddenly be more interested in cooking at home, saying that going to a restaurant or cafe is a waste of money. And no, if your boyfriend says this, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to hang out with you in public.

What to do when this happens? Take a deep breath as a start. Then bring up the issue. Don’t be afraid to tell your partner that those three, four kilos over are bothering you and ask for his opinion (but don’t get angry if he answers positively to your “Have I gained weight recently?” rhetorical question). If it’s bothering you, find a way to work it out together — jogging together, going to the gym and watching over each other for cutting on the cakes can make your relationship much stronger. Cooking at home is also a great solution. If your partner is starting to consider this relationship serious enough, he might want to try imagining you as a family. You may also have a diet calendar together.

Intensified Gender Roles

Every culture has its traditional roles for men and women. While these roles are changing, there are many ways in which people in Japan are still socialized towards certain behaviors — women being tolerant and motherly-kind, while men are meant to be strong businessmen and have good communication skills. This isn’t true of everyone, but it is something that can come up when you are dating someone from Japan. They might have certain expectations of the roles in the relationship, and despite dating someone from another culture, these feelings might not change.

I had an ex once say to me that I should have my tattoos removed before we have children, because “mothers don’t have such things.” In my case, that was the final straw in a series of problems too long to list here, but on the other hand, there I was blaming him for not being able to do simple home repairs; things that every men in my hometown would know how to (or at least brag about being able to) do. We all have certain expectations of what our partner should be doing, or what sort of life you will have together, but these are ideas that need to be worked out together.

What to do when this happens? Remind yourselves that before being victims of cultural and social norms, you are human beings. Remind yourselves that the whole point about being in an international relationship is about breaking such pre-established norms and establishing new ones. Openly tell your partner how you feel about being told so and so and ask him how he would feel if you blamed him for not being Uncle Handy with that broken light bulb at home. A key to solving such issues is communication, but don’t bring up the culture card way too much, because often times you can’t change cultural perceptions over night. Make it about you two and work out solutions that apply to you only, not the population of your entire country or Japan.

Financial Concerns

Money, money, money — the root of all evil. The cost of living in Japan can be quite high, going out on dates can be expensive, and money can start to become a problem in a relationship early on. While your guy might initially find it fun to splash out on a fancy restaurant and even a love hotel or two, that constant spending might be draining on his finances. Likewise, if you are independently wealthy and your guy isn’t, or if you insist on paying your share, but make far less than you partner, you’re going to feel the squeeze on your wallet sooner than they are, which can lead to stress on the relationship as well. No one wants to live paycheck to paycheck, and it’s always a good idea to save for an emergency, so money issues regarding how and when to spend on what can quickly become fuel for some epic fights between partners.

What to do when this happens? Again, don’t be afraid to talk about it. Tell him that you’re running a bit tight on the finances lately and suggest that you go lavish only once a month after pay day or on special occasions only. There are many ways you can have fun together without breaking the bank (Netflix, anyone?) and having cheap ramen for dinner once in awhile can feel way better than foie gras. Compensate with yakiniku dinner when you get your pay, but keep it modest for the rest of the month.

Communication: The Golden Solution

The most important thing to remember is to communicate with one another. Communication is everything in a healthy relationship, and if you can’t communicate with someone in an equal setting, you shouldn’t be with them. The Japanese language is rich in vague terms and unclear explanations, and when you come from a culture where this is not the case, the finer points of being in a relationship need to be established more clearly for both parties.

It may be very uncomfortable, could even seem confrontational in fact, but if you are in a relationship with someone that you want to be with, this sort of exchange needs to take place. Set some time aside, and talk about any issues, any goals for the future, any wants, and see how much you two have in common. If it turns out that you both want very different things and compromise is impossible, then walk away on good terms. Otherwise, keep talking.

And if you are struggling with issues related to your relationship, work, or if you need someone to talk to, reach out to TELL Japan, and get the help that you need, or visit the Gender Equality Bureau’s website, to learn more. Or ask me. I’ll be around.

Originally from Niagara Falls, Canada, Hilary Keyes has lived in Tokyo for the past 10 years. A passionate renaissance woman, Hilary also works as a silver accessories and fashion designer, and dabbles in painting and bonsai maintenance. You can invariably find her wandering about Harajuku, Shimokitazawa and Koenji shopping and checking out the local color. As a single woman navigating the neon city lights, she's seen just about every incarnation of modern dating, both good and bad, and has the low-down on how sisters are doing it for themselves these days.

© Savvy Tokyo

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


32 Comments
Login to comment

Sounds to me like the talk of a person who has some self-confidence issues and problems with knowing how to communicate.

Been married over 30 years, if I took everything my spouse said to me seriously over the years one or both of us would probably be dead.

Learning how and when to listen takes time in a relationship, and trying to figure everything out, or discuss every little detail will the the death knell of just about all relationships. Learning to let crap go is very important.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Advice for teens and Japan newbies. I guess it has a place. And he probably did mean you looked like a Halloween goth and didn't really approve but quickly found a nice-sounding excuse when you challenged him.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

12 years of marriage here, we're brutally honest to each other, we view our relationship not as a medium to "admire each other", because really there's enough narcissists in the world already and we're not two teenagers in a chick flick, but as a safe place where "mistakes" - short of having affairs - will be forgiven in order to achieve self-growth.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Based on my own experiences

Decided to stop reading here primarily because, based on my own experiences, statements about anything can't be generalized from a sample of one. However, not wanting to reject someone's own experiences as irrelevant, I pressed on.

I agree with Yubaru. Most of my wife's and my arguments can be placed almost directly on mis-communication, lack of communication, and not listening.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

As much as I hate to admit it, I'm with yubaru on this one.

Learning to let crap go is very important.

Once my wife's button has been pushed (most times unintentionally), there's nothing that can be done except to wait it out. Reacting only fans the flames.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Holding on to stuff is a marriage killer. If you can't drop something that happened years ago, then you're holding on to a toxic poison.

Weight gain is a different one. It's harder to keep weight off as you get older, and hard for women who have children and have gone through a period of intense weight gain over a short period of time. So it requires some understanding from partners. But the other side of that is that sexual attraction is largely an instinctive feeling rather than a conscious one, and weight gain can result in a lowering of sexual attraction towards ones partner. So while weight gain often requires understanding, it also often requires action from the person who has gained some weight. If it's happening to you, get out there and be active. Go for a walk after dinner in the evening. Do some activities on the weekend. Go to the gym if you have time. But most of all, watch what you eat. Hold off on the snacks, or try to choose ones low in sugar, and higher in protein. Your partner will appreciate it, and the rewards will make it worthwhile for yourself.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Most important line men should know when they are in a relationship. "You are right, I'm sorry". It will save you a ton of hassle.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I think there's a lot to be said for not communicating in a relationship.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I think this comes under the category of "compatibility". If you can't take the odd remark, even if made in jest, then don't marry someone who makes them, wittingly or not. Whatever you do, do not marry someone you want to change. All the "communication" in the world probably won't achieve that.

I'm a bit cheeky myself, but my missus knows its in jest and gives some back. She'll also say things that aren't kind and aren't funny, but that's usually when she's stressed. My kids give as good as I give them. They play sports though, and like my wife they sometimes come home very tired. When that happens, I try to pick up on it and be as supportive as I can.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There`s also some truth in those snide remarks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

people in Japan are still socialized towards certain behaviors — women being tolerant

That's where I stopped reading.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

i read at least 4 failed relationships in this article and should take relationship advice from her?!!!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Most important line men should know when they are in a relationship. "You are right, I'm sorry". It will save you a ton of hassle.

She's on to me with that one. She can tell when I'm just saying it and don't actually believe it.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

She's on to me with that one. She can tell when I'm just saying it and don't actually believe it.

Then you really are turning Japanese here! Well done! Turn the tables!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I agree with Yubaru. Most of my wife's and my arguments can be placed almost directly on mis-communication, lack of communication, and not listening.

I'll second that, and this:

Learning to let crap go is very important.

And finally: A man marries a woman expecting her not to change and a woman marries a man expecting him to change.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I guess Marriage is broad and varied, but here's my take:

Ultimately, you have to consider what is best for you both as a unit. Within that, you will both have needs and expectations that can and should be accommodated where possible, but you ultimately need to be pulling in the same direction for the partnership/marriage when it matters. To that end, you have to read the play in a marriage, and know when to push, and when to stop or concede ground. And it's not a competition where there are 'winners' and 'losers'. If that's your mindset, one, or both of you have it wrong and should rethink things.

As a man, I find sharing responsibilities to be very important to my wife. These are things I have always done anyway, but doing some cooking, cleaning, helping with the kids are things my wife appreciates immensely. It makes her happy, and she is very thankful.

Da te.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

She's on to me with that one.

Welcome to the club. Might i suggest buying the occasional sweets for her. Does it every time! "im angry at you.... but... I love cake.....OK i forgive you".

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Welcome to the club. Might i suggest buying the occasional sweets for her. Does it every time! "im angry at you.... but... I love cake.....OK i forgive you".

I'm curious. Why do you paint your loved ones as individuals lacking any sort of understanding and require some sort of appeasement like some child? We are adults after all no?

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

FW,

Because there is truth, or some truth in what he says, I have experienced 20+yrs worth so far & counting, lots of times when I KNOW I have some points that could be made I simply DONT BOTHER, its not worth it to prove I am right.

I doubt this happens a LOT but I can tell by some of the posts here that others & myself have encountered these situations with SOME frequency. There are also some topics that I will do anything to avoid discussing because I know it wont end well if I say what I believe, topics like politics, WWII, China, Korea(s), heck even when we AGREE on things, IF it shows Japan in a bad light (and the Mrs agrees) I will STILL take some heat for it, so I just do my best too avoid, not worth the hassle as papigiulio says!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And then there's the other side "hey can you loose the jeans and shave your legs" "happy birthday here's an electrolysis machine kit for your beard" WHY? .... Darling, I like to wake up beside a woman...... I had to find a new place to live....

I'm now happy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I KNOW I have some points that could be made I simply DONT BOTHER, its not worth it to prove I am right.

I know where this is coming from too. There was a time that we argued about the stupidest crap, and both ended up pissed off and forgot what the original argument was or what started it all.

Let it go on, and every little thing becomes a battle between who is right and wrong. It isnt worth it in the long run to be "right", at the expense of losing something more important.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

we had a very successful marriage of 30 years. One day My wife said she wants a split up. I asked " are you serious" why ? she reply you have never taken me serious. I did that time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Return the joke (come on, we all have a few things we can make fun of each other; any signs of him getting bald lately?)

Sheesh... No wonder the author is single.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Based on my own experiences, the most common post-honeymoon problems for international couples in Japan..."

Unless she's had a very large number of honeymoons I'm not sure I'd consider her any kind of expert.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Once my wife's button has been pushed (most times unintentionally), there's nothing that can be done except to wait it out. Reacting only fans the flames. oh man sounds like you wife is my wifes twin! My father gave me a life tip when I was very young that still sticks with me today. He said , son when it comes to women even when your right, your still wrong, remember that and youll live a much more peaceful life. How right he was!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Unless she's had a very large number of honeymoons I'm not sure I'd consider her any kind of expert.

It would make her the wrong kind of expert. I used to know a guy who regularly gave marriage advice. I asked why he thought his advice was any good, and he said, "I've been married 5 times. I know all about it!"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

commanteer,

"It would make her the wrong kind of expert."

I know, my comment was somewhat tongue in cheek. ;-) As it is, she seems to have had a fair number of failed relationships and none successful, (if one considers long lasting to be a requirement for success), so I don't know why we're meant to think she's got much of any importance to tell us.

Also confused by the wording of her profile as a renaissance woman, who also does this and that. Is Japanese immigration now handing out visas for being a renaissance person?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Money the root of all evil" misquoted as usual, it's "the LOVE of money is the root of MUCH (not all) evil" and there is a world of difference.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Woman's point of view..Thanks

I totaly agree mainly with the 'Financial Concerns'

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Decided to stop reading here primarily because, based on my own experiences, statements about anything can't be generalized from a sample of one. However, not wanting to reject someone's own experiences as irrelevant, I pressed on.

Yes, this is an opinion-based article and find these type of articles interesting to hear other people's experiences. Why would you come into this article which so much seriousness? Should have not even clicked on it if you expected otherwise.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

DaDude,

I also enjoy reading about people's experiences as long as they leave them at that. It's sentences like the following that lose me.

"Based on my own experiences, the most common post-honeymoon problems for international couples in Japan tend to fall into four major categories,"

Based on her own experiences she could certainly draw conclusions about her own experiences, but how that extends to the conclusions she's reached about international couples is beyond me.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have problem here with my japanese boyfriend. He just doesnt take communication as the golden things. I dont ask him to stick with me 24hour, but maybe if he can manage time ,being fair and equal, i wouldnt end up text him like this. It seem like im not number one or two nor any number , im just no place in his heart. It seem like im the only one working. No i dont want his money, i want love and care.

And if he cant being fair and equal enough for his friends and me then i know , there will be no time for family/us in future when he is working and going out with friends. And i dont wanna be with someone who cannot being mature and manage time better.

Because when he go out with friend, he give 100% attention to friend , when you play , he 100% play and never ever give me attention and he lost me, but i guess he dont realise it. He dont go out with friend 24hours right.

School havent start, there is no homework yet, i dont get why there is no time for me. We talking about managing time, not forcing him to be with me 24hours. If he say he cant spend time with friend anymore after i come back, then that is crazy, because i was and never like that, we were good when we together, you wanna go play skate ? Futsal? Lunch with friend? Whatever else? I didnt stop. Remember i have friend too, if he go out with his friends, either i wait him or i hangout with my friends too. Remember i hangout too. 

Maybe if he didnt ignore when i told him how i was in pain , i was this and that, maybe things will not happen. If he choose to care , maybe things will not happen. And dont say i was too much right now , because each day, i decide to find him only at night because that is the time where he were mostly free , but no , text was ignored and he just turn out talk about another things. 

Did he get boring deal with me? He said idk , it was meaning by 50/50 my brother said. And all because he get boring for me being like this when cleary he is the one decide to throw his responsibility as a boyfriend. He should have more better than managing time than me , he should have know "i have to be equal, half for friends half for gf" . Sometimes we both too harsh and end up get hurt, he were running away after the argument and he were trying to avoid solve it. But remember who say "dont run away. You need to solve things , if you run things will not happen and change" .

Think of this, so far he would say "please understand me" , did he understand mine too? If no, how can i understand his too. Where is the fair.

When we first meet i told him i am different , he may feel stress or feel troublesome being with me , i told him my dark secret and he choose to stay with me , he said

" dont worry, i dont mind , i will stay by your side , we will fight together , i dont care" 

Did he forget? Yes i am troublesome , and i told him before "if you feel that you cant deal with me , with this kind of person, you still have time to leave me and go away"

But he choose to stay , which i used all my energy, my trust to accept him. I trust him, no matter how bad is it, we solve it and understand each other like before. I trust it no matter how bad is it, even we have to take time to be silent and being apart , i still believe that we still can talk after that. 

Because i take so many courage to be brave , to trust , to love , to care and to give everything again to people and he dont know how much courage i take. I lost sleep just to decide to give him and people chance or not. He dont know how scare and trembling i am , everynight thinking how to deal people outside. But today , its very painful. I dont know how to deal anymore , i dont know how to trust anymore. As much as i give many love, as much as painful i get from giving.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites