"I wondered if that was the reason."
December 31, 2016 8:36 AM   Subscribe

 
The laughing, especially when the children were crying at the end, was a little disconcerting to me.

I didn't like the way this has been framed as a mutual problem when clearly it was the husband alone that had the issue. And it made me wonder about equality under Japan's divorce laws for her to have endured the abuse for decades (including the obvious procreation that resulted in two children after he decided to stop talking to her without explanation).

It would be interesting to see how the children navigate adult relationships with such a poor role model. Trauma from abuse ripples down the generations...
posted by saucysault at 8:54 AM on December 31, 2016 [17 favorites]


Yeah, I kinda object to this being described as "the parents weren't speaking to each other", since clearly the problem is solely the husband --- the wife speaks to him as well as their kids, the husband only acknowledges the kids' existence and totally ignores his wife (unless he wants sex, of course, in which case he still doesn't speak to her).

And why in the world would anyone put up with that for literally decades?!? Unequal divorce laws or not, she should've dumped the jerk long ago.
posted by easily confused at 9:23 AM on December 31, 2016 [12 favorites]


This blew my mind, watching it this morning. Because not only did the father ghost the wife for 23 (!!!!) years, but also even the kids apparently didn't speak to each other about it. The 18 year old son said he'd never asked the sisters why.

And, in the end, apparently the father loves the wife! He apparently just felt jealous when they had kids, and cold shouldered the wife. And then felt like he couldn't stop for what...reasons of stubbornness? Had to be consistent? Felt embarrassed?

It seriously blows my mind, and I wonder how many families exist with pathological but not physically harmful behavior like this. I mean, what would have happened in this family, had there not been a random Japanese variety show willing to take the call? I hope they had other venues of possible help.
posted by erinfern at 9:42 AM on December 31, 2016 [8 favorites]


I'm looking forward to the 1 year followup.
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:00 AM on December 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


The framing of this is basically a form of gaslighting. As a child of parents who remained unhappily married for many years despite all kinds of bullshit bordering on abuse, let me testify that it is traumatic and damaging, and I find the text of the link pretty upsetting.
posted by mai at 10:30 AM on December 31, 2016 [20 favorites]


And, in the end, apparently the father loves the wife! He apparently just felt jealous when they had kids, and cold shouldered the wife. And then felt like he couldn't stop for what...reasons of stubbornness? Had to be consistent? Felt embarrassed?

Great Lord Cheezus! Men! Get over your frickin' self and grow a pair the hell up.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:48 AM on December 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am sad for the children and I hope they are able to grow past this.

How do you learn to love and respect people, to interact normally and maintain normal expectations, to resolve conflict or bridge misunderstanding, when your model is so thoroughly dysfunctional? asking for a friend
posted by polyhedron at 10:51 AM on December 31, 2016 [4 favorites]


As far as I've been able to figure it out, you don't.
posted by rhizome at 11:08 AM on December 31, 2016 [9 favorites]


Normally I'd share this with my wife but I'm sulking.
posted by chococat at 11:16 AM on December 31, 2016 [13 favorites]


I agree. The link text makes it seem like there was equal ownership in the situation, rather than the psychological abuse it actually was. I can somewhat understand that the show itself portrayed it as such, but we can frame it better here.
posted by greermahoney at 11:22 AM on December 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


How do you learn to love and respect people, to interact normally and maintain normal expectations, to resolve conflict or bridge misunderstanding, when your model is so thoroughly dysfunctional?

Distance and therapy.
posted by snickerdoodle at 11:53 AM on December 31, 2016 [4 favorites]


How do you learn to love and respect people, to interact normally and maintain normal expectations, to resolve conflict or bridge misunderstanding, when your model is so thoroughly dysfunctional?

Distance and therapy.


And having incrementally "safe enough" relationships (of all kinds) with people who allow you to grow.

Also, you have to work at it.
posted by schadenfrau at 12:12 PM on December 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


Words from the Gottman Institute about stonewalling.

That mother must have epic self-soothing skills.

Those poor kids.
posted by Sublimity at 12:21 PM on December 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


As far as I've been able to figure it out, you don't.

This is a logical fallacy. You're affirming the consequent. If abusive they were abused. They were abused. Therefore they are abusive.

I know all kinds of people that came out of dysfunctional homes and managed to be decent human beings. In fact I know more of these than people who became abusive (though this is probably a form of survivor bias since people who are abusive don't tend to have lots of friends).
posted by srboisvert at 12:49 PM on December 31, 2016


Poor woman, poor kids, poor man.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:07 PM on December 31, 2016 [1 favorite]




I like the last bit of your article:

“Running away is not always about leaving,” a young man named Matt told Mauger. “We dream of love and freedom, and sometimes we make do with a little — a costume, a song, a dance with our hands. In Japan, that is already a lot.”

It expresses a view of the world that I feel for Asian Americans can sometimes get lost in translation. All this conceptual talk about gaslighting and abuse is important, but at times it feels more validating to focus on the actual people and their experiences and their own narratives.
posted by polymodus at 2:01 PM on December 31, 2016 [5 favorites]


Metafilter can be so cruel when it comes to relationships.

I found this whole video moving and funny and yeah, heartbreaking. I thought the father cruel for refusing to talk to so long, but when he said the reason why — how can you not laugh? It's ridiculous. To refuse to talk to your wife over the attention she gives to the children, and then to refuse to back down for twenty three years? It's incredible.

And then the selflessness, the constancy of the mother in continuing to talk to him through all that. When this stubborn, taciturn man, who is visibly frightened of saying a word in the presence of her videotaped image, overcomes all that to have a conversation with her in a public park, it makes perfect sense to me that laughter and tears can coexist. How ridiculous it is that the picture itself of gruff, elderly intransigence can also contain the image of a timid boy asking out his crush for the first time on a park bench!

We all know that life isn't a fairy tale, and nothing ends happily ever after, but this is exactly the kind of thing that fairy tales and fables are made of. It's larger than life.
posted by billjings at 2:32 PM on December 31, 2016 [12 favorites]


My mom is convinced that her father started shuffling when he walked because the rest of the family (women) weren't giving him enough respect. So when they would go someplace all together, he would purposely slow everyone down. I always knew him as a shuffler and of course as he became truly elderly, who knows, but she's sure it started as a protest.
posted by amanda at 2:33 PM on December 31, 2016 [6 favorites]


how can you not laugh? It's ridiculous. To refuse to talk to your wife over the attention she gives to the children, and then to refuse to back down for twenty three years? It's incredible.

He has taken this to George Costanza levels of absurd dedication to his own stubbornness.
posted by boubelium at 3:39 PM on December 31, 2016


Metafilter can be so cruel when it comes to relationships.

I don't think there's very much crueller than praising a woman in her situation for being selfless.

but this is exactly the kind of thing that fairy tales and fables are made of.

It is exactly that, yes. Do you know "Patient Griselda"?
posted by queenofbithynia at 3:40 PM on December 31, 2016 [10 favorites]


I never praised her. I did marvel, though. 23 years! Her persistence is just as shocking as his.
posted by billjings at 4:12 PM on December 31, 2016


"Persistance" is an odd choice of a word for a woman who may have been financially, psychologically, socially or legally trapped in the relationship. Would ANY psychologically healthy person with their own independent income, a loving social circle that does not stigmatise divorce, and protection under the law as written and applied, CHOOSE to remain subject to this abuse?

*note, I do not know anything about Japan's divorce laws but, globally, they tend to suck
posted by saucysault at 4:27 PM on December 31, 2016 [9 favorites]


She was still talking to him after 23 years. That's persistence.

The harshness I criticize is the insistence on grinding that axe, at all costs. That Japan has different norms, more constricting norms, is obviously a huge part of the story. The story would probably never happen in 2016 America (well... not in the America I know, at least). But it's a moving story nevertheless.
posted by billjings at 4:40 PM on December 31, 2016


Metafilter can be so cruel when it comes to relationships. ...but this is exactly the kind of thing that fairy tales and fables are made of.

You're kidding, right?

He should have been called out on that silent-treatment bullshit years ago and given the option to shape up or be left behind. And she's no hero for putting up with it. What a terrible model for her children to see re relationships.

Fairy tales and fables are also filled with dragon slayers—this story needed a dragon slayer.


N.B.: I understand that cultural issues may explain why she didn't leave. Regardless, I can't celebrate tolerating this bullshit.
posted by she's not there at 4:42 PM on December 31, 2016 [10 favorites]


This isn't a story where the dragon is slain. It's a story where the monster's humanity is restored.

And I know, I know, abusers lie — but that's what I meant when I said this is the stuff of fairy tales.
posted by billjings at 4:52 PM on December 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


Instead of speculating, why not look up Japan's divorce rates, laws and culture?

An apparently well-researched overview

It seems that divorce is not all that rare or difficult, especially in middle-aged/older couples. Yes, the wife's biggest obstacle is financial hardship, but in this case her children are all adults now, or at least old enough to be independent. She could easily file for divorce if she wanted to.

My guess is she didn't.

Yes, to Western eyes this can be easily construed as abuse, and I agree that I wouldn't blame her for seeking a divorce. But, assuming that she knew that was an option, and assuming that she chose not to go that path, then I would acknowledge and respect her decision. In that light, her actions would make sense. Her children's reactions - laughing when told of their father's reason for maintaining ailence all these years, their excitement at seeing them speak again, but mostly their laughter - suggests that they do know their parents well enough to know that there is love in the family. Japanese customs just don't encourage them to question their parents too deeply, hence the kids never really discussing this issue among themselves.

And well, the best indication that this while situation is not due to Japanese culture, is that the presenters themselves were stunned. This is not a normal situation even in Japan.

The best part about this video, I agree with billjings, is that the monster regained his humanity. That is always a wonderful outcome, and that is what should be celebrated.
posted by satoshi at 5:50 PM on December 31, 2016 [6 favorites]


When the presenter talked to the mother and father about the situation, I expected the mom to be more distressed and the father to be recalcitrant. But she seemed accepting of the situation--almost finding it silly, maybe?--while as soon as the presenter brought the issue to the father he started crying. It's like at some point she just shrugged her shoulders and thought "It is what it is", but he's had all those bad emotions just sitting at the surface for decades. But then, she's treated him normally this whole time, while not speaking to her has required him to maintain that resentment 24/7.
posted by schroedinger at 6:02 PM on December 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


From satoshi's link the social and financial pentalties, especially for women and especially for mothers, makes it seem like divorce would not have been an option for the mother until the youngest child moved out:

Two major factors in Japanese culture have kept the divorce rate very low despite the lack of couple compatibility, communications, and emotional satisfaction. On the male side, shame is still a powerful social and financial sanction, especially in the workplace where many companies are reluctant to promote employees who have divorced or have major problems at home. A divorce is always a negative factor in the employment world. Women also face serious financial consequences from divorce. While child custody goes to the mother in three quarters of all divorces, most Japanese mothers do not have a career or much in the way of financial resources. Only about 15 percent of divorced fathers paid child support in 1996
posted by saucysault at 6:16 PM on December 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


She was still talking to him after 23 years. That's persistence.

I would think it would be the only way to maintain your sanity and stay in the relationship. Best to go, but if you can't, then practice your skills of relating to other human beings, for your own sake.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:24 PM on December 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


erinfern: "And, in the end, apparently the father loves the wife! He apparently just felt jealous when they had kids, and cold shouldered the wife. And then felt like he couldn't stop for what...reasons of stubbornness? Had to be consistent? Felt embarrassed?"

Narcissism.

He wanted everyone to concern themselves with his feelings, expressed passive aggressively through withholding and emotional blackmail for 23 years. He doesn't know how to manage or process his emotions, so his normal feeling of loss in the midst of a growing family where his wife is attending the needs of their children turns into jealousy and resentment, because she isn't as available 100% of the time to attend to his emotional needs anymore. He can't see past his hurt feelings to understand why the needs of their growing children take priority, and that his wife can't devote as much attention to him as he was used to before children entered the picture (I get the feeling it was mostly her attending his needs before they had kids).

Lots of couples go through this adjustment as they shift their attention to raising children, and plenty of spouses feel loss over it, but they adjust. He couldn't even recognize why his emotional needs shouldn't always be first priority for his wife, so he tried exerting power over her instead. That mostly didn't work. They all went on living while he continued to sulk, year after year. But he couldn't apologize and move on. To do so would be admitting he's powerless over the situation, and that deferring to the emotional needs of their children is more important than everyone attending to his needs. No, because he would no longer come first. That was a hill he was willing to die on, to emotionally abuse his family and ice out his wife in an absurd power play for over two decades in order to regain control over his wife's attention. Meanwhile, she kept doing the work of raising a family, and he sulked in silence whenever she was in the room.

Me first.

Narcissism.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:00 AM on January 1, 2017 [18 favorites]


Meanwhile, here in Texas, Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, says it’s too easy for people to get divorced and wants to change state law to make it harder. He claims says ending no-fault divorces would keep families together. He also filed a bill to extend the waiting period for a divorce from 60 days to 180 days. Give abuse a chance! (/sarcasm)
posted by a humble nudibranch at 3:02 AM on January 1, 2017 [5 favorites]


I wonder what would have happened if the kids had left home for university, first jobs, marriage, etc. With the wife now able to devote all her time to the husband, would he have relented? And how can you raise kids with no means of discussing their needs, triumphs, challenges, behavior, etc.? It's heartbreaking.

Aside: amazing kitchen! It put KonMari in a new light for me.
posted by carmicha at 3:02 AM on January 1, 2017


It's okay to not judge other people :)
posted by amtho at 6:13 AM on January 1, 2017 [3 favorites]


If that's directed at me, amtho, I'm not judging the family regarding their kitchen (and, you're welcome to come visit my house if you require further proof). Marie Kondo, who is Japanese, writes about the cultural aspects of stuff and storage in her books, including space, gadgetry, thrift, treatment of gifts from others, reverence for objects that belonged to the dead/esteemed people, the difference between clutter and collections, etc. That kitchen was crowded, but organized and curated, which made it interesting and "amazing" to me.
posted by carmicha at 9:59 AM on January 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


carmicha, it was not directed at you.
posted by amtho at 6:22 PM on January 1, 2017


Oh, ok! Sorry about that, amtho.
posted by carmicha at 7:56 PM on January 1, 2017


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