How Low Expectations Strengthen Japanese Marriages
Compared to the United States, whose marriages are more based upon spouse compatibility and the idea of being in love, Japanese marriages differ greatly, as most of them are arranged. Mr. Torida, a Japanese cattle farmer, when asked if he loved his wife of 33 years, responded in a way that would shock most couples living here in the United States, "Yeah, so-so, I guess. She's like air or water; you couldn't live without it, but most of the time, you're not conscious of its existence." But with unparalleled statistics on family and marriage in Japan, it seems as though something is working to keep these marriages going strong. For instance, the couples in Japan have a divorce rate of less than 24%, compared to the United States’ 55%, and only 1.1% of mothers are unmarried, matched to our 30.1%. According to interviews of couples in Japan, marriages in the United States are much more fragile than the arranged marriages of Japan. If something goes wrong, a disagreement comes up, or the couples simply fall out of love, the marriage ends and divorce seems to be the only solution. In Japan, the secret to strength in marriage is based on three factors: low expectations, patience or “gaman”, and shame. “The advantage to marriages with low expectations is that they have built in shock absorbers.” If the couple discovers that they have nothing in common, it is not so much of a reason for divorce at it is what is expected of most marriage. Based on this same way of thinking, disagreements or disappointments, such as an affair, are not as traumatic and are in fact traditionally tolerated in the case of a husband’s infidelity. Incidences such as these don’t automatically point straight to divorce, as most wives see it as a mutual failure and can use the opportunity to look for ways of improving themselves so that it does not continually happen in the future.
Another reason Japanese...
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