At Korean class last week, our teacher asked classmate Y whether she wants to get married. The exact conversation went like this:
Teacher: Do you want to get married?
Y: I want to quit my job.
If you think there’s a lack of cooperation in the discourse above, you’re not alone.
I probed, “She just asked if you want to get married and your answer is you want to quit your job?” And Y responded, “Yes, I want to get married because I don’t want to work anymore.”
This has been a very intriguing mindset among many Japanese women I’ve met. I believe the general idea of getting married is if you fall in love with someone and decide you want to be with that person for life; that you want to be a part of each others’ lives, and so you get married. However. the concept of marriage in Japan appears to be to choose someone you don’t dislike enough to want them out of your life, so that they can sustain your lifestyle without you having to work.
This idea of marriage is very common among the many people I know. To them, getting married itself is the goal; not leading a blissful life with someone you love. The difference is, getting married can possibly be attained very early in life, while the goal of leading a blissful life lasts as long as one is alive.
This way of thinking probably explains why divorce rate in Japan is relatively high. About 1 in 3 marriages end in divorce placing the country 6th in the world for the highest number of divorces and number 1 in Asia at 1.77 divorce cases per 1,000 people.
Marriage has never been and should never be the goal because then, when you achieve it, all motivation to do anything to make the marriage work is gone. It’s as with athletes who cross the finish line and see no reason to continue running. Worse, they slow their pace when the goal is right in front of them. If anything, marriage should be a process to achieve the life goal of being with someone you love. It’s a never-ending pursuit of happiness, like a bicycle-powered generator—you work hard at pedaling to create enough power to the bulb and when you get there, you have to continue pedaling to maintain the power. Setting marriage as a goal is probably also why many Japanese people find their partners changing drastically after marriage. Truth is, they didn’t change after marriage; they changed before marriage and returned to who they were after since their goal has been achieved.
Divorced cosmetic surgeon and TV personality Nishikawa Ayako said she lived with her then boyfriend before they got married and since she loves Thai food, they had Thai food together a few times a week. But as soon as they got married, the now ex-husband told her, “I hate coriander,” and they never went for Thai food together again. This happened because the ex-husband saw marrying her as a goal instead of giving her lifetime happiness as one.
To be honest, after having dated a number of Japanese women, I’ve begun thinking I prefer dating non-Japanese. I still do think the Japanese are beautiful and attractive in their right, but I’d rather be with someone real than a Kinder Surprise not knowing what I’ll get till I crack the egg open.