We don’t argue the way we used to, which was an odd thing to realize.
While dating, engaged, and newly married Ryosuke and I would these explosive and frustrating arguments at least every month, full of tears (usually on my side) about how much the other person just didn’t understand.
Not so much anymore.
Part of the “problem” is that we understand our spouse more. Specifically, I have gotten better at the Japanese way of anticipating what my husband wants without him having to tell me (and he has gotten better at telling me anyway).
Before, a common conversation might have gone like this:
Husband: Can you make breakfast?
Me: “Sure. What do you want?”
Me: “Yaki-udon? Cereal? Leftovers from dinner?”
Husband: “Those all sound good.”
Me: “So… is cereal okay?”
I’m feeling lazy. I make cereal. We eat cereal.
Husband acts grumpy for most of the morning during work. Around lunch-time we argue about something petty and he confesses that he didn’t want something sweet for breakfast and would have preferred if I had cooked something ‘real’ for breakfast.
During times like these, I used to feel like my husband would have had an easier time if he had married a Japanese girl. Because she would understand these things without them being spelled out for her.
“You have to tell me if you want something,” I repeat for the millionth time. “Because otherwise I won’t know – and I’m going to keep doing my thing, completely in the dark.”
During all of this, of course, I realize I’m lucky.
Ryosuke isn’t good at keeping his feelings hidden. If he’s frustrated, he will let me know – now, more than ever (because while we were dating he would often try to hide it or keep it down).
Not all Japanese husbands (or Japanese wives) will be so free with their feelings and affections.
Once he realized we were in this for the long haul, rather than gaman-ing Ryosuke began to work hard to help me understand why he thinks and acts the way he does and where his values lie. Because of the groundwork we laid during those two years before marriage, we’ve fallen into this comfortable routine – like a warm, loving hug that envelops us wherever we go.
Like when we’re cooking together, I taste, decided it needs salt, and the salt is already in my hand (because he knows I like to add too much salt to everything). When he sighs too much, there is a bike key in his hand, and we go on our weekly 10km ride to some part of the town we’ve never seen before (of course stopping for ice cream because anything can be solved by fresh air, exercise, and ice cream). Hatching eggs on PokemonGO is a nice bonus.
I feel happier than I think I deserve.
And, of course, I’m terrified one day it will all come tumbling down.