Voices
in
Japan

have your say

Is being in an international marriage any more or less difficult than a "regular" marriage? What are some issues that you think might torpedo an international marriage (or relationship)?

69 Comments

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

69 Comments
Login to comment

Every marriage has it's challenges. A international marriage may present some different challenges to a "regular marriage (whatever that might be)", but if both parties work at it and are prepared to give and a take a little then any marriage should work out. My (Japanese) wife has her little funny ways but I'm sure I would find the same if she was from Hampshire, Cuba or the Faroe Islands. That said, I still can't understand her obsession with doing laundry as often as she does. But she seems to enjoy it why should I worry?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

International marriages are not always easy and those married to someone with a different cultural background know that these kinds of relationships are challenging. Religious and political differences as well as language barriers can cause conflicts for couples in an international marriage. Trivial points of discussion such as partner's eating habits, or how to celebrate holidays, may result in argument. But the success of an relationship always depends on both people involved. Some may simply be more capable of handling and resolving the conflicts than others. There are also certain issues that reappear because of both partner's cultural expectation. In the end the approval of the respective family and friends can be another factor which can make or break a marriage.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Success in a marriage requires full acceptance of each other, warts and all.

The alternative is the homogenizing harmony hammers, and misery.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They are difficult, specially if your partner wants everything to be his or her way or following the traditions of his or her country. What more if that person is self-centered.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In the case of an international marriage to a Japanese woman, the biggest problem is that there is a very high chance that she will unilaterally shut down sexual relations at some point. (usually after having kids)

Some guys will come on here and tell us that they still have a good sex life with their Japanese wife. Good for them, but I think they are a minority.

A sexless marriage is so common in Japan that it has almost become the norm (or else it actually is the norm).

The fact is that many Japanese women decide that they no longer need/want/like sex and just shut it down.

And once it is gone it is gone. Forget any ideas of trying to persuade her to change her mind, or of going to counseling together, or whatever. She's not interested and Japanese women are also very stubborn... once she's decided, that's it... game over.

Japanese guys perhaps expect it and therefore can accept it more easily. But for a non-Japanese guy married to a Japanese woman it is a terrible blow.

And I think it is very selfish and cruel of a woman to torpedo the marriage in that way.

21 ( +25 / -5 )

@choiwaruoyaji, I hear you brotha!. Sounds like you are talking from experience. Try to get some on the sly. As to the topic at hand, I think the "international marriage" is kind of a red herring as far as divorce. The international marriages I see are usually, but not always, with slightly more educated and older individuals which ultimately lead to slightly better outcomes. When I talk to my US buddies about marriage to US women I see it is exactly the same if not worse. One guy found out his wife was sexting with her boyfriend as she watched a movie with him on the couch!!!

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

And I think it is very selfish and cruel of a woman to torpedo the marriage in that way.

It's not only Japanese women who do this. However, a sexless marriage usually is a doomed marriage. Some might keep up that pose indefinitely; unfortunately, they're in the minority. If you are in a 'sexless' marriage one of you is not sexless. (And I don't mean self-serve.) Think about it.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Given this is JT shouldn't the question be marriage with a Japanese spouse? Or is that seen as being too politically incorrect? difficulties with Western and Japanese marriages are specific to that mix, methinks. and also depend on which partner id which nationality.....

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Having never been in a 'regular' marriage I have no means of comparison, but my 'international' marriage doesn't seem all that different from the 'regular' marriages of those around me, taking it as a given that every marriage is unique.

One thing that I think would torpedo any marriage is assuming that the 'type' of marriage is more important than the two individuals in it. Marry a person who is self-centred and/or doesn't share your core values and at least some interests, and you're going to have problems whatever the nationality mix.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I have no idea as I also have never been in a "regular" marriage. I'm happily married, but there are some things that test my patience every once in a while. I do get the "you're not Japanese, so you don't understand" occasionally. Other than that, our problems don't really have anything to do with our international differences.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Obviously language can be an issue, and sunk a couple of my relationships when I first got here because we just got tired of not being able to express ourselves fully and openly, or even fighting with an electronic dictionary. haha. I think the real killer is cultural differences that people aren't willing to compromise on, but it's that unwillingness/inability to compromise that does it -- not the differences themselves. In fact, if you have two good people who can compromise than the aforementioned differences can lead to a very fun and fruitful union.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I often wonder about this whole sexless marriage debate as my marriage doesn't have that problem and other people I've spoken to haven't got that problem even after multiple children... I wonder if it's something people like to say but isn't necessarily true.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

choiwaruoyaji,

A sexless marriage is so common in Japan that it has almost become the norm (or else it actually is the norm).

This is sadly true. And "sadly" is really the best word for it. Having experienced my wife's unilateral decision to end sexual relations firsthand, I was compelled to look into the issue by asking female Japanese friends and acquaintances about this sudden change of heart. Turns out it is indeed the "norm." Apparently, the prevailing attitude is that after a child enters the picture, the interpersonal dynamics are no longer that of "wife and husband," but rather one of *"mother and father." Sexual desire is not something one experiences for a "father" because it's, well, uncomfortably wrong somehow. Conversely, the women I spoke with said they could no longer feel sexy in the eyes of their husbands because they were now "mothers" first an foremost. Something that needs to be said, however, is that it wasn't a situation where sexual desire itself was extinguished. Rather, sexual desire with one's one husband had diminished since he now wore the primary title of "father."

I asked how this worked out when they wanted another child beyond the first, and many said they simply grinned and bore sex with their husbands as an unfortunate necessity. Others said they still had sex with their husbands, but only because they felt bad for him or that sex was a "duty" they had to fulfill as "wife."

The fact is that many Japanese women decide that they no longer need/want/like sex and just shut it down

This, even more sadly, is patently untrue. The desire for intimacy and sexual activity still exists. But not with the husband. Enter infidelity.

To be fair, these are all issues for Japanese husbands as well. One of the most depressing conversations I had ever had was with a co-worker one night after a bit of drinking. He confessed that while he loved his wife as a good person and as the mother of his two children, she was not the one he was "in love" with, and that he had been carrying on a secret affair with a woman with whom he was truly "in love" for several years, supposedly unbeknownst to his wife. When I asked if he had ever considered divorce, he replied, “Why would I? The family is solid, so there’s no need to change anything since everyone is getting what they want.”

It's depressing, but the number of Japanese "sexless" marriages that are anything but would shock even the most jaded Westerner, I suspect. That Japanese couples seem almost resigned to this unending, cynical dynamic is even more disheartening; As long as the husband fulfiils his "role" as provider and the wife as "nurturer," no one seems to see a need to change anything, and infidelity continues unabated. Granted, if it works for Japan, then who am I to criticize? But with Japanese society wrestling with the riddle of why its young are turning their backs on marriage in droves, I'm not so sure this dysfunctional version of marriage actually does Japan any favors.

For any marriage to succeed, international or otherwise, the lines of communication have to open and unimpeded. Language differences can give rise to the inability to express hopes, desires and expectations born of one's cultural and social upbringing. If an international couple goes into a marriage not knowing any of the above, for example, it can cause a catastrophic disintegration of the marriage. But if a couple can find a way to navigate the and misconceptions and misunderstandings that will invariably arise in the face of two different cultures meeting (and clashing), then the relationship has about as good a chance of survival as any.

13 ( +17 / -5 )

When the LIKE let alone the love has gone from a marriage, and it is truely just staying put so both parents can see the children, WHY should a woman have sex with the man she is married to if she no longer wants to? Im guessing its not the sex she is rejecting, but sex with that particular man that now doesnt attract her, or else physically and emotionally repulses her.

The fair thing to do would be to offer a divorce where the kids are put first. Unfortunately here in Japan it goes something like "you want a divorce? Never see the kids again then, foreign parent".

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Love may not conquers all, but my parents are an example of a little luck over judgement, and a healthy sense if humour.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I think at the end of the day, it all depends on the woman that you married. I'm lucky to be married to an amazing woman.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I'm entering my twentieth year of marriage this year and we are still going strong.I think meeting her outside of Japan helped because her experiences and mind was broadened by living overseas.But for the most part I look at my wife as a woman and her nationality is a non-issue.Woman are generally the same the world over,with a few million different quirks thrown in that men have to navigate.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I've never been married to a Japanese woman, but having been in relationships with a couple I found the "you don't understand because you're not Japanese" line a bit tiring at times.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The fact is that many Japanese women decide that they no longer need/want/like sex and just shut it down.

Believe me, it's not always "that way round"... Some Japanese men are like that too...

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I don't think that international marriages are more difficult or easy than uninational marriages, I just think they are different. They introduce new problems into the mix, but remove other problems at the same time.

The fair thing to do would be to offer a divorce where the kids are put first. Unfortunately here in Japan it goes something like "you want a divorce? Never see the kids again then, foreign parent".

This has nothing to do with being foreign, Japanese men face the same issue.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If the husband is from a Muslim-dominated country it might torpedo the marriage if he insists on having more than one wife.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Believing your marriage is 'international' is one way of helping to torpedo it. Marriage works or fails based on how the two people in it get along, not based on where the people are from.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

A sexless marriage isn't always down to the woman. My husband has a friend who stopped having sex with his wife because he said was tired all the time, so after a while she looked elsewhere and the marriage broke up. Se is now married to her lover, and appears much happier. He is still single, still tired and now miserable after trying matchmaking with no success.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

My wife says I always screw up my particles-it hasn't torpedoed my marriage yet though ....

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Some thoughts.

I don't know if they are more difficult per se, but they obviously have their own flavor. Probably true of any successful marriage is the need to compromise - if one, or both of you can't or won't, you are doomed to fail imo. You have to constantly consider the cultural differences at play in everything you do to ensure that you find some common ground. It shouldn't be so hard - after all, these cultural differences are also some of the wonderful aspects of your relationship as well. It makes sense that they will also present challenges at some point as well- you are naive to think they won't, just have to be prepared to work at this as a couple.

The sex stopping after kids thing is interesting, and certainly isn't a myth from what I know. It does appear common, and infidelity with Japanese people in marriage also seems to be common. I know of LOTS of cases of this happening. In fact, I know lots of cases of Japanese women I personally know having affairs. I think it's fair to assume their husbands are doing the same. Soo....... I think it's important you keep your partner happy with regular, porno sex. Make them know you find them attractive - verbalize it, and do it. My wife as it happens was particularly conscious of this happening after kids, so has made an effort to ensure things are good between the sheets. Sure, it's harder, but it's worth it.

And for god's sake - communicate.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The marriages turn sexless once the requisite number of kids have been born. This is what Japanese women do. They have the number of kids they want, then they press the off button and it is the biggest problem in an international marriage. Japanese women also do this to Japanese men. Most of them don't even sleep in the same room as hubby if they have kids. It is worth remembering that one third of marriages here are arranged and many others take place simply because her biological clock is ticking and she wants children before she is too old. I am sure there are some functional international marriages with fulfilling sex lives, but they are not the norm here.

The male friends I have who say they have good sex lives (Japanese and non-Japanese) generally don't have children. Japanese guys expect there to be no intimacy when they have kids and the huge number of snack bars, hostess joints and the staggering number of prostitutes attests to this. Wikipedia claims there are 150,000 non-Japanese prostitutes in the country. I have heard there are around 200,000 Japanese ones too, but it depends if you count "enjo kosai" etc. as prostitution, which many sources do. Kabukicho alone has over 3,500 sex-related bars. These numbers are staggering to me as an Englishman, but not surprising.

Foreign guys always think that our girl is different, and she will never turn off the tap, but unfortunately we are wrong nine times out of ten. This lack of sex, lack of intimacy and the discovery that feelings of affection can suddenly be switched off when a child is born is the great torpedo. However, if you divorce your wife you will probably never see your children again, so Japanese divorce law keeps people like me in deeply unsatisfying marriages with women who clearly hold no affection at all for us. I should never have believed that I was going to be different though, or that my "catch" truly loved me and always would. I still have a happy family life because my kids are wonderful, so it's not all bad.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

Believing your marriage is 'international' is one way of helping to torpedo it.

I disagree. On the contrary, failing to recognize the issues that come along with an international marriage by pretending it doesn't exist is more likely to help torpedo your marriage, than accepting these issues will.

Marriage works or fails based on how the two people in it get along, not based on where the people are from.

The first half of this sentence is true, and the second half will play a part in how well those people get along. We are products of our upbringing.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

In fact, I know lots of cases of Japanese women I personally know having affairs. I think it's fair to assume their husbands are doing the same.

Is this really the right assumption to make? I would think that a man who was rejected by the person he had committed his life to would lack the self-confidence and self-worth to attract an affair partner. How do you mentally come back from being denied like that? Wouldn't it show through in your daily behavior, particularly around the opposite sex?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I used to wonder about marriages that involved people from different language backgrounds if at least one partner was not fluent in the other's. But honestly, I think this issue can provide some benefits. Simply put, when I say something a little funny, or I don't quite like what my husband is saying, neither of us just takes it at face value and gets angry. We make an effort to clarify and discuss. I have seen many native English speakers talking together, family or partners, that just seem to not hear what the other has said and get angry. That's the point of my 'irregular' marriage I cherish. I think we put a lot of care into making sure we were a good match before getting married.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

just remember guys a woman is always right even when shes wrong. this is a simple rule that will give you a lot more peace in your life

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I have 2 children with my wife and we had sex today!I think it's a bit of a cop out to think it's all Japanese wives. Maybe it's you. Maybe you're not doing what makes your wife happy. So rather than introspection you take the easy route of thinking its part of the culture for women to be like that after kids.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

I didn't see this addressed in the comments, but I thought of these potential issues. 1. When the couple has children, they will not get to know one set of their Grandparents. If the couple splits their time between the two countries, then both families will get to know the children fairly well. However, when the children only visit for a few weeks every few years, it could possibly create an issue with the couple, partly depending on how vocal the Grandparents would be. I know we now have email and Skype but its not the same. 2. Parents could also be an issue. If they decide to live in one country and the set of parents in the other country become aged and ill, do they move to that country? Will they have the funds or resources for jobs to be able to make that move? Both sets of parents will eventually age and possibly need assistance at some point, so how does the couple choose? I can see that creating some issues. Anybody have some experience with this?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Is this really the right assumption to make? I would think that a man who was rejected by the person he had committed his life to would lack the self-confidence and self-worth to attract an affair partner. How do you mentally come back from being denied like that?

Thon, I think the answer lies in the fact that it seen not so much a rejection but just a normal and expected progression in the marriage. I don't think they guys are suffering too much - maybe some I suppose do, but it seems to just be what happens, nothing personal. A Japanese mate of mine once told me that all Japanese men visit soapland at least once a year. Of course, this isn't to be taken literally, but you get the general idea. And those women having affairs aren't doing it with other women - I know of a couple of girls who have been having long running affairs with married men: over several years. One of them is a bright, attractive young woman who is madly in love with this older guy but understands he will probably never leave his wife. It's kind of tragic really, but then maybe as a marriage their relationship would ultimately suffer the same fate.

Also, Japanese kids tend to sleep with their parents until they are 5 or 6 years of age. Do 12 hours at the office and then come home and try it on with the Mrs under those circumstances. You are getting donuts.

So you got to get it somewhere.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Strangerland, it has everything to do with being foreign, when you are trapped in a marriage to a Japanese person, whom you utterly detest in every way, because as a foreigner you are generally ruled against in divorce proceedings, and the children go to the Japanese family/spouse. Japan does not allow for joint custody, and you then lose your visa as a married person too so cannot remain in the same country unless you find a job willing to sponsor you.

Staying for the kids has a whole new meaning when you are married in Japan.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Funny, Onagagamo that is exactly what I think every morning of my life.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

luckyinnagoya1983,

I'm lucky to be married to an amazing woman.

That says a lot. You'd do well to remember your luck while you presume to bag on other posters for their experiences, going to far as to suggest, "It's not her, it's you," and making the wholly irrational assumption that you and you alone possess the ability to communicate effectively with your Japanese wife while the rest of the world plods along, clueless and in desperate need of your sage advice on how to keep a marriage together.

I'm glad that you have a good marriage. Enjoy it. But do realize that some folks haven't been so lucky as you and that it has a lot more to do with Japanese cultural differences than you seem willing to admit. To flippantly dismiss volumes of anecdotal evidence with your sole example of marital bliss suggests no small amount of willful ignorance combined with an unhealthy does of arrogance on your part. Look at Japanese social science research done by scholars like T. S. Lebra and Takeo Doi before you make offhanded remarks that seem more rooted in schadenfreude than in any real desire to contribute meaningfully to the discussion.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Define regular marriage??? marriage is marriage and love is love. My wife is 11 years younger, lived abroad for a few years, isnt interested in Japanese way of life, we have two kids and one on the way, and she gets me. We still have our issues but its not really cultural stuff, well...maybe a little here and there. Initially, it was more her parents issues because I wasnt like the typical Japanese guy working at the same company for 40 years. Thats what her dad did. We sorted most issues out early which helped. Sex? anytime is cool with my wife. Have the kids around can make it tough though...nothing a movie and snack cant fix. Overall, marriage can be tough at times but I have no clue how different it would be with another women from my neck of the woods. My wife and I kiss and hug all the time and anywhere. Find a woman that is keen to prioritize your way of life in your household and not what others are doing. Children shouldnt be put in front of the spouse, that`s just asking for a dead marriage.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I have 2 children with my wife and we had sex today!I think it's a bit of a cop out to think it's all Japanese wives. Maybe it's you. Maybe you're not doing what makes your wife happy.

I think it's a 50/50 thing. Japanese women do seem predisposed to stopping sex after the children are born, but in a lot of cases it's because the husband doesn't make himself desirable. It can't be said it's all one way or the other.

When the couple has children, they will not get to know one set of their Grandparents. If the couple splits their time between the two countries, then both families will get to know the children fairly well. However, when the children only visit for a few weeks every few years, it could possibly create an issue with the couple, partly depending on how vocal the Grandparents would be. I know we now have email and Skype but its not the same.

This has been a major issue for me, as I want my kids to know their grandparents well. Unfortunately we've never been able to have as much contact as I'd like. We go home once a year, and my parents come here every other year or so. We do a lot of Skype/Facetime as well. But it's not the same as actually living with them.

That said, when my kids get older, I intend to send them to stay with my parents for a month or so every summer, so they can get to know them better, and get a feel for life in Canada. But that's still about five years away - hopefully my parents will still be around for that.

Parents could also be an issue. If they decide to live in one country and the set of parents in the other country become aged and ill, do they move to that country? Will they have the funds or resources for jobs to be able to make that move? Both sets of parents will eventually age and possibly need assistance at some point, so how does the couple choose?

This has turned into divorce for many a couple. There is no easy answer.

Strangerland, it has everything to do with being foreign, when you are trapped in a marriage to a Japanese person, whom you utterly detest in every way, because as a foreigner you are generally ruled against in divorce proceedings, and the children go to the Japanese family/spouse. Japan does not allow for joint custody, and you then lose your visa as a married person too so cannot remain in the same country unless you find a job willing to sponsor you.

First, Japanese men (and technically, women) face the same issue, with the exception of the visa issue. If they get divorced, they won't get to see their kids again. So this has nothing to do with being Japanese.

Regarding the visa issue, it really has nothing to do with marriage. You're going to need to find a way to support yourself regardless.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The marriages turn sexless once the requisite number of kids have been born. This is what Japanese women do

Speak for yourself. We have two kids, aren't planning to have a third, yet our relationship is not sexless.

These numbers are staggering to me as an Englishman

I hope the fact that there are 100,000 prostitutes in your country of 50 million doesn't shock you too much.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

The thing about not being near one or other set of grandparents - surely this isn't restricted to 'international' marriages? A bloke from Hokkaido marrying the Ryukyu lass he met on his summer diving trip (or her winter skiing trip) is going to have to cope with distances in excess of a thousand kilometres; further, and in two directions, if his work takes him and his family overseas.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Talked about this before but the biggest torpedo was the wife switching off after the birth of our first child. Even if we brushed together accidentally, she acted as if she had touched a live socket.

That was nearly forty years ago. We made a few rocky restart attempts, resulting in a second child, but the basic pattern was set back then. Sex is a subject neither of us mention and it is uncomfortable to watch it together on TV or at the movies.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I never got this "regular marriage"vs. "international marriage" thing.

First if the "international" part is hard I think normally at the moment of dating people will get some idea what are they are getting in to.

This "international" and "regular" stuff is full of mambo-jumbo if a marriage fails it fails because both parties have errors no matter if it is a local marriage or a international marriage.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A bloke from Hokkaido marrying the Ryukyu lass he met on his summer diving trip (or her winter skiing trip) is going to have to cope with distances in excess of a thousand kilometres; further, and in two directions, if his work takes him and his family overseas.

A Japanese family living overseas for work reasons probably know that their stay is temporary.

A couple who hail from Hokkaido and Okinawa respectively still don't need a valid passport/visa to visit each other's families (and the assorted fees and paperwork), neither are they forced to stand in different lines at the immigration counters (which one gets to take the kids through?), or go through all the hassle of trying to schedule family holidays in accordance with the various times/season/school holidays of each nation, not to mention personal and work schedules. In fact, such a couple could probably spend at least a day at each family home every single holiday season, if they organise things right.
-1 ( +1 / -2 )

mrkobayashi, actually the population of the UK (I know not England only) is around 64 million and there are an estimated 80,000 prostitutes in the UK. It's a lot, but it's nowhere near the estimated 350,000 working in sex-related industries in Japan with a population of around 120 million. Some estimates here say there could be up to 200,000 Japanese girls working enjo-kosai whilst still at school, which really whacks up the figures, and they are mainly with married men in sexless marriages. Yes, I do believe these figures are staggering and are in part the result of dysfunctional sexless marriages, which are the norm here. I'm happy to hear yours is one of the fulfilling ones though, good on you.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

A couple who hail from Hokkaido and Okinawa respectively still don't need a valid passport/visa to visit each other's families (and the assorted fees and paperwork), neither are they forced to stand in different lines at the immigration counters (which one gets to take the kids through?)

Once you've got your passport (which you need to live with your 'international' partner anyways), it's no headache. Depending on the country, there is no need for any visa or paperwork. My husband and I do not stand in different lines at immigration counters (PR uses the Japanese line, spouses of UK nationals use the UK nationals line) and the kids came with us both. Personal and work schedules affect folk whatever their nationality or country of residence, and kids can be kept off school (seeing Granny and Grandpa is more important, and schools are more likely to understand that if Granny and Grandpa are on the other side of the world rather than the other side of the country).

such a couple could probably spend at least a day at each family home every single holiday season, if they organise things right

And if they have the money.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Some estimates here say there could be up to 200,000 Japanese girls working enjo-kosai whilst still at school

Spent 15 minutes trying to find info regarding this (in both English and Japanese) and couldn't come up with anything. Any links?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

All readers back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Marriage to another person from a western country means shared custody is a possibility, the woman is not left destitute if she leaves. In short outside of Japan, divorce, whilst nearly always difficult, is vaguely civilised. Divorce in Japan is brutal, and even more so if one party is not Japanese. There are so many foreign men and women in Japan who are basically slaved in miserable marriages because of the inadequacies of Japanese family courts and divorce settlements.

Ideally no one would get married when they are young and a bit naieve, unfortunately that is not the way the world works. It would be good if younger people coming to Japan learnt from the mistakes and suffering of those for whom it is already far too late.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

It would be good if younger people coming to Japan learnt from the mistakes and suffering of those for whom it is already far too late.

They'd be better off learning how to make it work from those who have done so.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It would be good if younger people coming to Japan learnt from the mistakes and suffering of those for whom it is already far too late.

I agree. One American man that I know actually heeded this advice, after hearing so many horror stories. Before marrying his Japanese girlfriend, he made it very clear from the start that he would be in charge of the cash flow and the bank books, but that his wife would be given a generous housekeeping allowance. He also made it very clear that their children would not be sleeping with them. He works hard at his job, pulls his weight around the house, and devotes one whole day a week to "family service." They have created a very happy family. It's not all doom and gloom!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

That is good to hear, Tessa! Far better to get expectations and conditions set out to start with, rather than fix a situation that is already far beyond fixing.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

One American man that I know actually heeded this advice, after hearing so many horror stories. Before marrying his Japanese girlfriend, he made it very clear from the start that he would be in charge of the cash flow and the bank books, but that his wife would be given a generous housekeeping allowance. He also made it very clear that their children would not be sleeping with them. He works hard at his job, pulls his weight around the house, and devotes one whole day a week to "family service." They have created a very happy family. It's not all doom and gloom

Well there's more than one path to happiness. I never had to do any of those with my wife, and we have a great relationship.

Had I wanted to do everything the western way, I would have married a western girl.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Obviously the cultural thing will be a hurled to get over and other situations probably will come up in a marriage to derail it,beliefs also are important as well as communication. Honestly if your there sincerely for the person (given if both parties care enough)and not for sex ,which i see quiet a bit stated on hear.You will be much happy :).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Any single guy seriously considering marriage to his Japanese girlfriend would definitely have second thoughts after reading the posts above. Does it really turn out that way in most cases after the kids are born?

I now wonder if this phenomenon is unique to Japan or if it also occurs in other cultures.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Data is helpful.

In the US, "inter-racial" and "inter-ethnic" marriages "normal," if you are under the age of 30. Meaning, the overall rate "inter-racial" and "inter-ethnic" marriages in the population is less than 10%, but for new marriages, it is much higher -- almost double, and increasing every year. In a few years, one in five marriages will be "inter-racial" and "inter-ethnic," which is clearly part of the norm, and therefore "normal."

Rates of divorce for "inter-racial" and "inter-ethnic" marriages are higher in some areas, most notably, "white males" married to "asian" females." When you dig into the data, you find the lower success rate for these marriages are closely tied to the kind of "white guy" and the kind of "asian girl:" military boys posted over seas.

As for all the quotes around the categories: 50 years ago, "inter-ethnic" marriages where those between Poles and Irish, Italians and Russian, German and Franco-English. We've just gotten beyond that, and call all of them "white."

I imagine in 50 years, we may be saying the same thing about the grandchildren of a Japanese American and a Mexican American....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Of the couples I know, it's about 50/50.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Of my peers, its nearly 100%.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Every marriage can be difficult, but international marriages are more difficult because of cultural differences.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Had I known I really would come off so badly doing things the Japanese way, I never would have married a Japanese man. In fact when I was pregnant with my first, a very nice older foreign lady came up and spoke to me and told me to run, that it never works out happily, and that I should leave. At the time I didn't see the warning bells, but she was absolutely right. As it was I ruined many years of my life, the only good thing to come out of it was the children.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Every marriage can be difficult, but international marriages are more difficult because of cultural differences.

I don't find this to make my marriage more difficult. On the contrary, it makes it easier to discuss things that I don't like, that would be taken as a given not even to be discussed if we were of the same culture. We are both able to accept things from the other culture, and drop things from our own culture, based on whether they make sense, not based on the fact that it's what everyone else does (or doesn't do).

when I was pregnant with my first, a very nice older foreign lady came up and spoke to me and told me to run, that it never works out happily

Reality on the other hand tell us differently. Just ask Cleo. And I know a number of girls married to Japanese guys who are happy, and for whom it has worked out happily.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

LaWren,

Sorry to hear, indeed sadly the odds are rather stacked against happiness for families in Japan, even for Japanese, except for them its closer to "normal" & they have that awful word gaman

I am ok after 20yrs but thankfully no kids, in hind sight I can see that would have made things extremely challenging for sure.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Appreciated, GW. It is important to talk about when things go bad in international marriages in Japan, if only to let others in the same situation know that they are not alone and to warn new people here that when it goes wrong it can really go wrong. I had no idea when I got married that I wouldnt have the same rights as I would in my own country.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

It is important to talk about when things go bad in international marriages in Japan, if only to let others in the same situation know that they are not alone and to warn new people here that when it goes wrong it can really go wrong.

I agree with this, but lets look at this comment of yours:

when I was pregnant with my first, a very nice older foreign lady came up and spoke to me and told me to run, that it never works out happily, and that I should leave. At the time I didn't see the warning bells, but she was absolutely right.

There is a difference between telling someone what can go wrong, and telling them that it will go wrong. The former is providing good information. The latter is incorrect and just bitter.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

SLand,

Sorry but the overwhelming facts & anecdotal type evidence clearly points out that marrying a Japanese & living in Japan the deck is rather severely stacked against non-Japanese in a lot of ways.

Yeah there is more info now & I think people should throw their 2yen in on the pluses & the minuses, lot of us old timers got hitched likely before the internet even started so back then & even in the 90s info wasn't easily available.

And even so I sure we can remember when our hormones were LYING to us that would could conquer it all LOL!

I mean lets face it life in Japan throws a lot at ANYONE MARRIED:

Long commutes, stupid hours in the office, cant take your holidays, company wants your weekends too some times, in laws, relatives, culture, & many many more REALLY get in the way of people marrying & REALLY being able to enjoy time together, have kids & still have intimacy with ones spouse, for the vast majority quality of life just hasn't been happening now for many decades & THIS directly relates to a LOT of J-problems.

It isn't just foreigners getting the short end of the stick, Japanese have been saying gaman & shoganai for so long crappy lifes have become the norm here.

I think it is GOOD that we not sugar coat how most(not all) live in Japan, & I imagine an awful lot of us gaijin would LOVE to go back in time & do things differently.

Hey I know life can suck elsewhere but be honest at least J-living for the vast majority is pretty low quality for a supposed advanced economy!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

lot of us old timers got hitched likely before the internet even started so back then & even in the 90s info wasn't easily available

...and the old timers seem for the most part to be doing OK, while the younger ones with all this 'information' at their fingertips are the ones having problems. Could it be that it's the overflow of incorrect info from 'very nice older foreign ladies' aka 'incorrect and just bitter' old biddies, that creates a self-fulfilling prophesy?

Apart from not having the vote (by choice, I could take Japanese nationality, but no thanks), I have never felt the deck to be stacked against me as a non-Japanese married to a Japanese and living in Japan. It would have been nice to be closer to my Dad when the kids were little, but it's much easier nowadays for young parents, with Skype and low cost carriers.

in-laws and relatives - much more likely to accept that the yome does things differently if she's from the other side of the world rather than from the other side of the street. I got/get away with a lot of stuff that my Japanese friends get stick for from their in-laws.

culture - two to choose from and take the best from each, what's not to like?

I imagine an awful lot of us gaijin would LOVE to go back in time & do things differently

I think the only thing I would do differently if I were able to go back is maybe try to fit in another kid. And maybe get a diving license.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Sorry but the overwhelming facts & anecdotal type evidence clearly points out that marrying a Japanese & living in Japan the deck is rather severely stacked against non-Japanese in a lot of ways.

No, the facts are not overwhelming, and anecdotal evidence is irrelevant because while people love to complain, they generally don't walk around telling people how awesome their marriage is.

I mean lets face it life in Japan throws a lot at ANYONE MARRIED

I agree. But so does any country. Marriage is not an easy thing. Look at divorce rates in western countries, it's not like marriage is a cakewalk in other countries and some horrible institution here. Marriage takes work.

I imagine an awful lot of us gaijin would LOVE to go back in time & do things differently

Of course. And it's true that a lot of Japanese-Western marriages go south. But while a lot of people like to blame this on Japan, or their Japanese spouse, the fact is a lot of these people would be in failed marriages with people from their own countries, while married in their own countries. Lets face it, many of the foreigners who come to Japan are not the most socially apt people. Japan just gives them something to blame it on, ignoring that they are the source of their problems. So as far as many foreigners wanting to go back and do things differently, that's really irrelevant to Japan, or Japanese marriage.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Honestly, the worst thing about my situation is American taxes. Many many countries do not make you file taxes when you live and work in another country. Additionally, they demand to see my wife's earnings as well as her bank information. On top of all that, I get conflicting information from various online sources (govt pages) on what to do. Should be simple right?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

After my white relative married an Asian woman against her father's wishes, her father refused to speak to her for two years or so. Think their first kid was born around then so maybe he had to come over with the mom-in-law to watch the baby.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

International marriages cross many lines, racial, cultural and of course national. Couples last longer when they cross these lines with the mind of love. The children from such relationships won't realize any differences until they get older that's when they will learn from other kids how to share their international heritage, some kids will be mean while others more accommodating. Funny, genetics has its own way and beauty especially when siblings favor the mother or the father or both .... I love it. Relatives can be fickle, but what the heck some time in the future they'll get over it in their generation or the next. On my part, I have the greatest relatives, ever.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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