The Meaning of Marriage

I was watching a program that introduced what they call “unusual families” in Japan. The guest rings the bell of a house and the owner, an artist, answers the door. He invites the TV crew in and suddenly, two women who looked about the same age appeared. The guest looked confused and asked, “may I know which is your wife?” And the man answered, “both.”

In this “polygamous family,” the man has two wives and two children with the first wife, four children with the second. I’m guessing you’re confused now because polygamy is not legal in Japan either. But here comes the story:

The man married his first wife a month after meeting her. 1 year 4 months later, he fell in love with his staff, who is also a friend of his first wife, and decided to divorce the first wife to marry the second wife. But after marrying the second wife, the three of them had a talk and arrived at the question, What is marriage?

They eventually concluded that there is no real meaning to it other than legal purposes and with the agreement of both women, the man divorced the second wife in the same year and the three decided to live together as a family. This means, in the eyes of the law, all three are single men and women. At night, the first wife and her two children sleep in one room while the second wife and her four children sleep in the other. The man would go over to the first wife’s room, give her a goodnight kiss and then go over to the second wife’s room to give her a goodnight kiss. Then, he’ll sleep with the second wife. When asked where he sleeps at more, he replied that he sleeps with the second wife more often as she is afraid of loneliness.

In the morning, when the man was interviewed about who he loves more, he replied frankly that he loves the second wife more. That is to be expected, not just because he sleeps over with her more, but also, if he had loved the first wife more, this arrangement probably wouldn’t even have happened.

When asked separately how the women felt, they honestly said they feel jealous when they know the husband is making love with the other wife. But while the first wife says she feels that she has no choice because she fell in love with this kind of guy, the second wife says she is grateful to the first wife for accepting her. The first wife did say they share responsibilities at home and also is thankful for the presence of the second wife who does the part of chores at home that she’s not good at, but get this: the first wife is in charge of 1) washing the clothes, 2) cleaning the house, and 3) caring for the children, while the second wife is in charge of 1) cooking.

Hello? Bias much?

All in all, this is an interesting relationship because the husband also said at the interview that since they aren’t married, it is possible for him to break up with either of them anytime and that this is their arrangement.

What a wacky world.


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