Monday, January 21, 2008

A New Divorce Law that changed men to show more affection

Salarymen -- the black-suited corporate warriors who work long hours, spend long evenings drinking with cronies and stumble home late to long-suffering wives -- have danger waiting for them as they near retirement.

Divorce. A change in Japanese law this year allows a wife who is filing for divorce to claim as much as half her husband's company pension. When the new law went into effect in April, divorce filings across Japan spiked 6.1 percent. Many more split-ups are in the pipeline, marriage counselors predict. They say wives -- hearts gone cold after decades of marital neglect -- are using calculators to ponder pension tables, the new law and the big D.

Skittishly aware of the trouble they're in, 18 salarymen, many of them nearing retirement, gathered at a restaurant here recently for beer, boiled pork and marital triage.

The evening began with a defiantly defeatist toast. Husbands reminded themselves of what their organization -- the improbably named National Chauvinistic Husbands Association -- preaches as a sound strategy for arguing with one's wife.

"I can't win. I won't win. I don't want to win," they bellowed in unison, before tippling from tall schooners of draft beer.

The pork was scrumptious and the mood jolly, but throughout the dinner meeting there was an undertow of not-too-distant domestic disaster.

"The fact that a wife can now get 50 percent has ignited guys to think about their fragile marriages," said Shuichi Amano, 55, founder of the association and a magazine publisher in this city of 1.3 million in western Japan. The word chauvinist in the group's name, Amano says, is not intended to refer to bossy men. Instead, it invokes the original meaning of the Japanese word that today translates as chauvinist, kanpaku, a top assistant to the emperor.

Men near the end of their corporate lives, he said, are especially edgy. "To be divorced is the equivalent of being declared dead -- because we can't take care of ourselves," Amano said.

When his wife told him eight years ago that she was "99 percent" certain she was going to dump him, Amano said, the only things he then knew how to do in the kitchen were to fry eggs and pour boiled water over noodles.

Since then, in addition to learning how to listen and talk to a wife he had ignored for two decades, Amano said, he has learned how to take out the trash, clean the house and cook.

Marriage in Japan is going through an increasingly rough patch. As in the United States and most wealthy industrialized countries, the age of first marriage is being pushed back in Japan. Between 1962 and 2006, the average age at which a woman married for the first time slid from 24 to 28.

-Japan's Salarymen, With Pensions At Stake, Work on Their Marriages

Via The latest edition of Foreign Exchange Show

1 comment:

AnnMarieFWW said...

I think this is a great step for the women of Japan. It is definitely a case of the times moving and past ideals becoming outdated or obsolete. I mean in the 50s and early 60s in America, the ideal wife was a home wearing her pearls vacuming and cleaning the house in her stylish dress and heels. She would have dinner hot and ready for her husband when he came home after a hard days work. This is an ideal that is long since past. Not all women are maintaining the homestead any longer, they are out in the workforce. Some women, in my family for example, are the ones bringing home the highest salary. My mother works longer days than my father and makes about 80,000$ more a year than my father. My father for the past 20 years was the main provider in my family, but now he's not. This is how times change and ideals fall to the wayside. I am very glad to see the women of Japan realizing their worth and that they do not have to sustain a marriage they are not happy and neglected in. I love this women take back and take charge attitude. I just recently started working for, it is an online community for women in the various stages of divorce. I have learned so much just from seeing these women who do their blogs, or the experts and their tips. Divorce is not the end, it is a new beginning with unknown possibilities. For example, we have representatives on the Montel Williams Show today talking about "Getting your Sexy Back",check out the site if you're interested we have an article up and will have the clips posted soon. It makes you wonder where we will be in another 10 or 20 years.
Just my two cents.
Ann Marie Miller