Cultural Relationships - Western Women, Japanese Men
Prem Dana Takada MPsych.
Printed in Being Abroad Magazine, Japan, 2000.
Healthlink News (Jet English Teachers Magazine) Issue 12 Japan 1999.
Journal for Foreign Wives in Japan, Japan 2002.
most common problems for Western
women who are in a relationships with Japanese men are similar to
in all relationships - dealing with issues of self esteem, developing
communication and dealing with emotions such as anger. In longer
role issues eg division of responsibilities also take prominence. If
couples are experiencing
problems, it is often the case that it is more uncomfortable for one
partner than the other-usually the woman. For example, if the woman
the modern Western Woman’s Superwoman role of being successful
in all areas of her life-career, taking care of the relationship /emotional
issues and, if
they are living together, also taking care of the home- it can be exhausting
and lead to chronic stress and resentments.
Just as every culture has its beliefs systems, every family also has
a series of beliefs that are inherited. Being in a cross-cultural relationship
a great chance to review those ideas. For those women in cross cultural
relationships, redetermining your beliefs about your own sense of self
worth and getting clear
on your personal and emotional boundaries is essential. In many cultures
we are trained in how to be codependent on others – i.e. look to others to esteem
us, to be dependent on what we do and how well we do it-in order to feel we are
worthy. One could also say that the intricate web of Japanese society is essentially
a codependent one in which people’s behaviour and in fact life
is determined by outside forces. Codependence as a way of life is essentially
valued and this
can function well if everything is in balance i.e. if the status quo
maintained. In Western society however, modern women often feel ashamed
of their hidden dependency
needs and have taken an anti-dependent stance. However they are still
very attracted to loosing themselves in an intimate relationship, (which
also be true for
a relationship with a Western man).
Some independent and strong Western Women are paradoxically very attracted
to Japanese men who represent the “Japanese heart” represented
by the more archetypal feminine qualities of softness, space and acceptance.
quiet moments!). A rebalancing can occur within the relationship as the
Western woman embraces her femininity which has often been scorned or
in someway damaged.
Most relationships have both aspects of healing and dysfunction/past
wounds. Therefore at other times the Western Woman, though having hopes
for change, has
so ingrained herself in the pattern of caretaking-mother role that
the partner has had little chance to develop personally and so a period
sometimes physical) separation is sometimes needed so that the foundation
for a new territory of growth can be laid. In other cases it is by the
her past issues that had previously robbed her power (eg an abuse history)
and her distinguishing the present from the past that allows her to propel
into a positive future.
For a Western woman to be in a cross cultural relationship in Japan the
social impact of this on her own perception of herself is markedly more
than if she was to live in a more multicultural environment e.g. most
major Western cities. Here she stands out as different both in the eyes
in addition to those of her friends and family. In fact it is this difference
itself that can assist with issues of separation from her family of origin
and developing personhood. It becomes clear that “I am not You” i.e. “Hey
Mum and Dad /World I have my own Life and Soul!” In a same-culture
relationship, issues of self-creation/differences are not as clear.
The Path of Relationship is both a joyous and painful one. We can perhaps
reach nirvana or heaven by keeping pure or going off to a cave and doing
to bring that Heaven to Earth in the arena of love and sexuality is truly
a journey of discovery and healing of our deepest wounds. Relationships
are sacred ground
and conflicts provide one with the opportunity to extend one’s
present capacities and, as is the case with any exercise, the result
and strength. To become aware of your patterns in relationship and to
become conscious of your
Self is truly an exciting adventure.