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Thread: Radical difference between East and West regarding relationships and marriage

  1. #26
    Regular Member Atmos_Fear's Avatar
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    man all this whit the relationships and marriage in japan is a sad story . But there are some benefits that's for shure. I see that they are alright whit this so they didn't want to change it.
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  2. #27
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Learning the language helps a lot as well in being able to broach these sorts of sensitive subjects from a more neutral standpoint by giving everyone permission to let go a little more, particularly if they don't suspect how much is being understood or of any ulterior motives. And there are lots of variations on the theme. You can always make goofy little mistakes to put everyone at ease, ask them to translate back into English as a kind of game, use their examples as segues into discussions of grammar, etc.
    Of course it isn't going to work for everyone or even very well through email.....although nothing else I've tried seems to either.

  3. #28
    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    You can always make goofy little mistakes to put everyone at ease, ask them to translate back into English as a kind of game, use their examples as segues into discussions of grammar, etc.
    True. I learned this a long time ago, and it works to an extent. With some people, though, they just aren't going to budge no matter what you do. Especially when they have no sense of humor at all about anything.

    Of course it isn't going to work for everyone or even very well through email.....although nothing else I've tried seems to either.
    E-mail is definitely tough. It's hard enough when two people that have the same native language try to communicate through e-mail, much less two people whose native languages and ways of communicating(what words and wording are used)--period--are very different. The phone helps somewhat, because you can at least hear emotion in the voice, but it's still very difficult. Believe me, I too know.

    I was going to say in person was the best way to convey whatever messages, but I could question that when Westerners/Japanese are concerned, because so much emphasis is put in facial expression. One wrong eyebrow move, and you're in trouble....
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  4. #29
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Originally posted by kirei_na_me
    True. I learned this a long time ago, and it works to an extent. With some people, though, they just aren't going to budge no matter what you do. Especially when they have no sense of humor at all about anything.

    E-mail is definitely tough. It's hard enough when two people that have the same native language try to communicate through e-mail, much less two people whose native languages and ways of communicating(what words and wording are used)--period--are very different. The phone helps somewhat, because you can at least hear emotion in the voice, but it's still very difficult. Believe me, I too know.
    I guess the notorious Japanese inferiority complex is known for a good reason, although outside my teachers I've yet to have the pleasure of speaking to someone completely humorless. Most Japanese would probably love the emoticons we're able to use here.....if only they could be an electronic substitute for our natural expressiveness.

  5. #30
    Regular Member Erik's Avatar
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    This may be off topic a little but after reading all this, this reminds me of the TV sitcom, Married with Children! lol

  6. #31
    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    Good observation, Erik!

  7. #32
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Elizabeth
    Most Japanese would probably love the emoticons we're able to use here.....
    Which emoticons are you talking about ? Emails, forums (this forum uses "kaos" which are Japanese emoticons), mobile phones ? I don't know in the States, but Japanese "keitai" have hundreds of colourful emoticons or little pictures to choose from.

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  8. #33
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Originally posted by kirei_na_me
    [B]He also went on to tell me that maybe a lot of westerners are thinking the Japanese married couples don't like each other because it is common for the husband or wife to say they don't like one another or they don't like what one another does, but that under the surface, it's the exact opposite.
    This is a really interesting and curious sort of phenomenon which probably does explain to some degree the strong stereotypes of Japanese men as misogenistic and women as unintellectual wimpering saps. Which I've seen played out more in crude body language and dirty looks than actual understanding. So......asked some friends in the states and Japan more about their own experiences, but haven't heard back anything yet.

  9. #34
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Maciamo
    Which emoticons are you talking about ? Emails, forums (this forum uses "kaos" which are Japanese emoticons), mobile phones ? I don't know in the States, but Japanese "keitai" have hundreds of colourful emoticons or little pictures to choose from.
    Is it "kaosu" ? For face and something else? I just meant being able to embed them in standard excite or outlook mail messages from the US. Since I'm only aware of maybe three or four postable kaos using an html (rich text?) formating .

  10. #35
    Regular Member neko_girl22's Avatar
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    to some degree I can understand what you mean Kirei-na-me, when you say your husband takes things personal during arguments -mine too! Sometimes I feel like I am hitting my head on a brick wall and end up backing down and smoothing things out myself because it seems he never will. We tend not to argue too much thankfully though.
    Although..... we have only been married for 11 months - together for 3 years.
    he treats me really well - nothing at all like the stereotypes of J-men.
    we have to put soo much effort into constant clear communication, so there's not too many misunderstandings - as I can't speak much Japanese and his English is not yet perfect. Communication is so important in marriage - especially international ones!

  11. #36
    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Elizabeth
    This is a really interesting and curious sort of phenomenon which probably does explain to some degree the strong stereotypes of Japanese men as misogenistic and women as unintellectual wimpering saps. Which I've seen played out more in crude body language and dirty looks than actual understanding. So......asked some friends in the states and Japan more about their own experiences, but haven't heard back anything yet.
    You see, this goes along with my theory that, unfortunately, some Japanese people can be seen as so unbelievably phony and fake and superficial. If they go around acting like one thing but meaning something else, it's hard for me to think otherwise sometimes. It's the whole yes means no/no means yes and the whole issue of having to be able to read minds instead of actually talking about something. It's the land of contradiction...

  12. #37
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Originally posted by kirei_na_me
    You see, this goes along with my theory that, unfortunately, some Japanese people can be seen as so unbelievably phony and fake and superficial. If they go around acting like one thing but meaning something else, it's hard for me to think otherwise sometimes. It's the whole yes means no/no means yes and the whole issue of having to be able to read minds instead of actually talking about something. It's the land of contradiction...
    Yeah, I can really sympathize with you on this as well, Rachel. It is impossible sometimes to tell how much of this "fakeness" is just a cultural artifact or whether the people really are as superficial and materialistic as they might want to appear. Although my case is a bit unusual since I can almost always tell what my boyfriend is feeling from the terribly infectious, boyish, even cute side to his personality which has trouble holding anything back. Often without the thoughtfulness or kindness of other Japanese men I've known, though, so there's bound to be a tradeoff of some kind. And without meaning to pry or anything, I'm just curious how much of these cultural logjams you were aware of before getting into this situation?

  13. #38
    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    Ah, good question. I'll be back to post the answer later. No, you're not prying at all... ;)

    Had more time than I thought...

    Anyway, as I said in my earlier post, I didn't know much about Japanese culture before I met my husband. I did think that Japanese men were oppresive towards women and I thought they were chauvinistic, but my husband was completely different from that image when I met him.

    Before we were married, he was extremely kind, thoughtful, and very open affectionately. He would openly show his affection in public and even loved to do so since he wasn't really able to do so back in Japan. He would act giddy around me and do all kinds of things that told me that he cared about me. Very charming and romantic and the main thing about him was that he was so understanding about everything, it seemed. I would say he remained this way until after our second child was born. Then, it seemed he kicked into straight-laced, hyper-responsible mode. I believe Japanese men to be responsible to a fault. He was like a completely different person.

    I always said that I would never change after marriage, and I honestly believe I've held to that. I still try to joke and have fun and try to keep myself in shape, I try to get my mom to take the kids sometimes so that we can go out, but he really doesn't understand that. It is true that he did tell me a couple years back that I was selfish for wanting to have time for myself or whatever and he did say that after marriage and kids, the "fun"(in particular sex) was supposed to die down. I think it's just the image they have of what marriage is supposed to be like. I think in stereotypical Japanese minds, they think that the mother is supposed to(or willingly just do so without any hesitation) sacrifice her life for her children. My children mean a lot to me, but as I said before, I also believe the relationship between husband and wife is just as important. I just don't think that's a concept they can grasp. I really don't.

    It's not that he's a bad person. He's just got ways that most of us--including myself--are not accustomed to. He takes care our family and makes sure we have everything we need--or want, for that matter, but I think sometimes, the Japanese father can get a little too hung up on being responsible.

    Maybe I'll PM you sometime, Elizabeth, with something that I think you might be able to understand. Something that doesn't have a place on this forum... ;)
    Last edited by kirei_na_me; Aug 17, 2003 at 06:32.

  14. #39
    Regular Member den4's Avatar
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    more of a pride issue, methinks....
    have relatives in J-land that are like that...I don't think it's so much a "responsibility" issue than a pride issue....or a weirded out form of a fair weather friend syndrome taken on a J-version as far as your "fakeness" issues that you've noticed...

    having had the misfortune of having to listen to a bunch of J-women talk about their husbands...yakyakyak...several times, you can break those into two groups, basically: those that have been spoiled by their parents, friends, social status, etc., and those that are more down-to-earth and can understand what the average person is going through....there is also a lot of folks in denial, too, because they can't deal with the fact that their social-economical world has gone to hell over the last decade or two.....and there is also a lot of folks who lack experience to make any educated comments...thus the "fakery" you mentioned....chances are they know nothing, so that's the superficial aspects you see....this doesn't explain everything, but it does offer some observations...

    but what do I know...?
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  15. #40
    Regular Member neko_girl22's Avatar
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    it's so sad you guys have all had negative experiences!
    I'm not saying life with my J-man is smooth sailing but.... I've yet to experience any cultural difference that I can seriously complain about. There are things that annoy me, but we seem to work around them.

    My husband's best friend said something really sweet last time I met him - that his relationship with his wife is the most important thing. Wife first, daughter second. Having a strong and loving relationship with his wife gives his daughter a happy family to grow up in. I think this is a great attitude!

    .....perhaps we shouldn't confuse personality traits with cultural differences. Or just "MEN" things that are plain annoying.

  16. #41
    Regular Member neko_girl22's Avatar
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    you can break those into two groups, basically: those that have been spoiled by their parents, friends, social status, etc.,
    that's a good point. Weak or strange Japanese men I've met do seem to be in this bracket. (Mummy's boys across the world...)

    Maybe my husband is an eccentric in Japan!
    -My husband was basically left to fend for himself when he was 15 after his Mother died and Father withdrew into himself - cooking, cleaning etc ..... therefore he helps me with this and doesn't expect me to mother him....

    -He's not a typical salary man - he hates office jobs even though they are better money ..... I'm so glad I don't have a husband who comes home at 10pm everynight!

    I'm not making much sense I know, and I'm not bragging, just I'm trying to figure out if my hubby is the same underneath or can you get exceptions to the rule........

  17. #42
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Originally posted by nzueda
    that's a good point. Weak or strange Japanese men I've met do seem to be in this bracket. (Mummy's boys across the world...)
    I think too there is a huge disconnect in terms of their socialization for a huge swath of Japanese kids, especially only children, who are spoiled at home -- basically allowed to run the house in many cases I've seen -- but still forced to conform to very strict group rules at school and later work. Probably where a lot of bullying and juvenile crime and other psychological problems come from as well. I am sympathetic but not to the point of wanting to marry one for sure ;).

  18. #43
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Originally posted by nzueda
    it's so sad you guys have all had negative experiences!
    I'm not saying life with my J-man is smooth sailing but.... I've yet to experience any cultural difference that I can seriously complain about. There are things that annoy me, but we seem to work around them.
    It is very, very sad.....and I know not having children myself I absolutely couldn't take the predictibility and sameness of an uber-responsible, proud, straight-laced man (almost my exact opposite) so in a way I do have to admire anyone who sticks with it. And of course, nzueda, there are all kinds of funny and sweet J-men out there with great minds and interesting opinions to talk with. I even know one or two of them personally as a matter of fact. ;)

  19. #44
    Regular Member den4's Avatar
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    actually, I wasn't specifying a specific gender....both men and women can fall into those categories, or into some other group....not because I like categorizing people, but because they try so hard to fit into a category all by themselves.....sometimes without even realizing it, I'm sure...

  20. #45
    Taicho mdchachi's Avatar
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    Re: Radical difference between East and West regarding relationships and marriage

    They should not forget that on top of this it is normal in Japan for a father to have a bath with his children, even 20 year-old girls !
    I got into this thread late but I was just wondering, how many people in your sample really said that they bathed with their dad into their teen years and beyond?!

  21. #46
    Regular Member neko_girl22's Avatar
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    I asked hubby and he said normally Father and daughter bathe together until 8 or 9 but he has heard of an idol that is about 19 and says she still bathes with her Father. So I guess there are some families that do that, but they would be in the minority.

  22. #47
    Taicho mdchachi's Avatar
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    Yes, of course whole families might jump in the family onsen or something. But I think it's highly unusual for teen-aged daughters to bathe with their dads at home. The whole point of bathing with kids is to help them bathe. Once they reach a certain age, they can wash themselves.

  23. #48
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Those who have seen "My Neighbour Totoro" will remember that the 2 girls (the older is about 12) bathe with their dad. As it's one of the most popular anime in Japan and doesn't seem to shock anyone, it's because Japanese find it perfectly normal. Not so long ago, public baths and onsen were all unisex. There are still some that do not separate men and women, but thery are getting rarer as Japan is Westernizing and Americanizing itself.

    I don't think men have any dirty thoughts at all when they bathe with their daughters. Japanese men very often do not even consider their own wives as a normal woman with whom to have sex once she becomes a mother. On the other hand, it's more acceptable for Japanese men to look for other women after that justly because the new mother doesn't care about sex anymore. It's a fundamental cultural difference.

  24. #49
    Regular Member Enfour's Avatar
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    Ahem... I think the main issue with the bathing question is that while families all use the same bath water, it is NOT because they are all jumping in the bath together at the same time.

    Yes fathers and daughter use the same bathwater. The bath is filled at around 6pm and it stays in the bath until all the family have had their baths - usually IN TURNS.

    The exception is when there are small children involved and the mother goes into supervise bath times.

    Most fathers don't get home from work before their children have gone to bed. Most fathers would get home after 11pm on a weeknight.

    Not many families have sento-sized baths in their houses and it is very difficult to fit more than one adult in a unit bath.

    Onsens are a completely different matter and have been discussed already.
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  25. #50
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    Since the discussion here concerns marriage in Japan, I feel compelled to post a link to the following site:

    http://www.crnjapan.com

    This is a MUST READ site before marriage to, having children with, or divorce from a Japanese citizen. Take care out there....

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