International Marriage – My Husband is Japanese
I thought I should title this post “Why I Married a Japanese Man” just because it’s a clickbait-y title. Being Japanese, that is something about my husband that he can’t control. I didn’t seek out a Japanese husband, and I would have married him if he were American, Korean, Egyptian, whatever. It sounds so “post racial,” but it’s true. I imagine people would want to know why I married a Japanese guy or there must be people out there wondering how they too could marry a Japanese guy, or could a relationship with a Japanese man and black American woman work.
Recently, we celebrated our 3rd? 4th year of marriage. Yes, I’m sure I should know how long I’m been married, but I’m also the kind of girl, who, on a trip to city hall to do some paperwork for baby, forgot how to write the kanji for my husband’s name. To be fair and in my defense, handwritten or not, the character for his given name is something that is hardly ever used in day-to-day life in Japan. On top of that, I mixed up his birthday with the dog’s. I’m sure the clerk thought I was in a fraudulent marriage, but not having a spouse visa is probably the only thing that kept her from calling immigration on me.
But I digress.
Being in an international marriage, there’s bound to be culture shock or cultural differences, but I haven’t felt it yet… so far. With baby, things are, well, even before she was born, we talked about how and where we would raise her. What languages we will speak at home? What religious ceremonies we’ll participate in? Will she get her ears pierced? Attend an international school or a Japanese school? For the most part we agree on these things, so it hasn’t been a thorn in our relationship. On the other hand, vacuuming or washing the dishes, those are the arguments that have me doubting the future of this relationship.
What my husband and I have in common is that the paths we chose are very similar. We’re both from mid-sized, coastal towns and went abroad right after graduating college without ever having been overseas before.
All of my major life events and time as an adult has been here in Japan. Up until 4 or so years ago, all of my husband’s major life events and experiences were in the US. I’ve spent 10 years in Japan and he’s spent 10 years in the US.
In many ways, I’m more Japanese than he is and he’s more American than I am. Likewise, I’m more American than he is, and he’s more Japanese than I am.Still, I find that we complement each other very well. In the end, my husband is just as American as I am, and I’m just as Japanese as he is, if that makes any sense.
He misses out on 80s-90s pop culture references, as well as the Korean Wave and Japanese celebrities, comedians, and TV shows of the past 10 years. Meanwhile, I’m totally behind on US TV shows like Sex and the City and Heroes, Jersey Shore, Teen Mom, and so on. He’s an MTV junkie, though I have to say we watched Ridiculousness and Catfish on our honeymoon – and I got hooked. They’re my to-go shows when I’m back Stateside.
On a serious note, for my husband, I know being back in Japan is so hard on him. Actually, I take that back. I really can’t understand how hard that transition is for him. My first real job was in Japan, so all I know is Japanese work culture. In my experience, it’s tough, but I’ve always been grateful for my experiences.
With that said, I’ve tasted the freedom of being a teacher and all the holidays that come with it, so it would be pretty difficult to convince me to work in a Japanese company now. Unless the company was in Chiba so I don’t get sucked into the crazy, packed trains headed to Tokyo.
Being the ~only son~ and carrying on the family name and so on is important to his parents. They want him, well us, to come back to live in his hometown. Yet, I know he’d love to be back in New York, or anywhere else in the US. Or anywhere but Japan. It’s tough, but that’s a struggle that only he can resolve by himself.
While his family history is now playing a (tiny) bit in our relationship, I didn’t set out intentionally to marry a Japanese man. But, the reason why I married a Japanese man is very practical.
In many ways, I’m more Japanese than he is and he’s more American than I am. Likewise, I’m more American than he is, and he’s more Japanese than I am. But, I find that we complement each other very well. In the end, my husband is just as American as I am, and I’m just as Japanese as he is, if that makes any sense.
Finding the Right Partner
After one particular breakup I put all my focus into my Shi-bae, travel, and work. A romance “gap year” if you will. A year later after giving some serious thought, I decided to pursue a romantic relationship with marriage being the goal. Thinking about past relationships, I had to be very specific about qualities that I sought in a partner. I had to focus on what really mattered to me.
I knew that I wanted to continue live in Japan. or at least have Japan as a base for several more years before moving onto a third country. While I have family in the US, I don’t know if I would relocate. However, having the US as a backup plan is an option. With that in mind I needed a partner who was:
- Japanese/English bilingual and
- Japanese citizen with a US green card or US citizen/green card holder with Japanese citizenship or a long term visa. On top of that, he
- Must love dogs
As you can see, with these three “musts” I significantly eliminated many dating prospects before I even started to date!
I figured, looks, job, height, all of that was fine but first, I was sticking with those 3 qualities. Someone kind and respectful, and family oriented rounded out my top 5 list. But, I think that goes without saying, right? And after dating for a while, I came across those qualities in my husband. I would have married him regardless of ethnicity or race. as long as he met those 3 qualities. It was a risky gamble, but Kokuto helped me through the process. I think we made the right choice. And that’s how I ended up with a Japanese husband.
Last week, we went to the library, and he got some books on bilingual education and how to raise bilingual kids. It’s good he’s being proactive and invested in her future, but I’d like some help with baby, like NOW!
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