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Ask Udder Smith: To Amaeru or not to Amaeru?

November 8, 2010

Dear Udder:

I am British, and my Japanese fiancee and I are constantly at odds, even more so since we decided to marry. He expects me to ‘see his needs with an invisible eye’  — whatever that means!  I love Japan, his family and him — but I am wondering if I can make this marriage work for a life time.

Feeling Blind in Chiba

Dear Chiba:

First off, any marriage is tough, and most couples, admittedly or not, go into marriage blind, if only because of time. There is no way to see your future nor your partner’s, and the lifetime that marriage entails clocks up many changes, both in you and your spouse. Growing together is a unique challenge for every couple, and admitting you are the blind leading the blind is my only advice, alas, for any marriage. Add intercultural elements and the scramble to raise children across two continents of grandparents, (and two chasms of parenting ideals) and the stresses of marriage can take on global proportions.

Still, don’t give up hope.  For understanding the Japanese male mind, I recommend Takeo Doi’s  ‘The Anatomy of Dependence”, not a bedside read, but necessary as an introduction to how the  typical Japanese approaches love and obligation — with amae — I suspect amae is what your fiancee needs.

I would also try to speak carefully with your future husband about your concerns — his answers are not as important as his willingness to listen, his capability to try to see your view, his sensitivity to your feelings.  The marriage that lasts is not the one without argument or strife, but the one that can weather the world, together.

Best, best wishes.


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