On Getting Married

I posted a comment on ekka‘s page a few days ago that got me thinking about how I chose a marriage partner. Once, about 10 year ago during my previous marriage, a school bud asked me what I thought was important in choosing a girl, and I gave him a list of “priorities”.

  1. Intelligent. This meant a person with an advanced degree, at least a masters degree.
  2. Balanced face. I don’t get into discussions about big or small eyes, or long or round faces, high or no cheek bones. It is a matter of balance. The preference among many is big eyes with double eyelids–which explains the popularity of Halfs–but I have met many girls with single eyelids who are sexy as all getout, and girls with big eyes that I wouldn’t even ask the time of day. I’ve come to realize that its not the individual parts but the balance of all the parts. Sound stupid? Yeah, I know. But I Knew a lot of guys who focused on one part of the face. There was a time in Japan when men went crazy for Yaeba, one canine tooth that was no inline with the rest of the teeth. Many guys I knew swore by this, What was up with that?!? There is one thing that I insist on, however: full lips.
  3. Bilingual, Japanese/English.
  4. Bi-cultural, American and whatever other culture. I insist on American because I am American. But another culture is necessary to understand the differences between between all people.
  5. A good cook. Duh.
  6. Must enjoy nooky.

My ex-wife fit these criteria to a tee. She has a PhD from UCLA. She’s a Half–Japanese/German–good face, full lips, and even taller than me. She’s bilingual and bicultural. She’s a decent cook. And she liked sex, but only as a means to procreate–not to have fun. So except for #6, she seemed to be perfect, but still we got divorced. And I think its because we were too “analytical”. We both had certain expectations in a partner that could be catelogued and prioritized. And we approached life in this fashion, as well. Everything was done for a reason, everything we did had to make economic, social, cultural, and academic sense. I think she was happy with this, but for me, life became too predictable and rigid.

We lived in Japan where she was an assistant prof. at Hitotsubashi–not a shabby place–a job, I should mention, she got through my connections: yes, kon・(connections) is really important still. Anyone who tries to convince you Japan is an egalitarian, meritorious system is full of it. Anyway, when I got my Ph.D. and decided to return to the US, she refused to return with me; she wanted to pursue her career in Japan and have our daughter continue her education in Japan. Hitotsubashi is a prestigious national school ranked 3rd in Japan. It didn’t make sense to her to quit it for a job I got at a middle first-tier university? (The school is, solid in many areas but it is not a Harvard or a Stanford or a Michigan or a Berkeley…) And “practically” speaking, she was right: it did not make economic or academic sense in terms of HER career. And the education our daughter was receiving was good as well. And Japan is a far safer environment than the US. Can you say, Columbine?

Anyway, what was missing from the equation is a sense of passion. My first marriage–for both parties, I think–was calculated, whether it be what we expected from each other or how we lived our lives and planned our future. For her, living apart was not a big deal; it made sense in many different ways. But I began to question the type of relationship we had and we ultimately divorced, as she wanted to pursue her career. You may ask why I didn’t decide to stay in Japan. Well, I earned a Ph.D. in Jap. Lit., and there was not school that would hire me, an American, to teach Jap lit. to Japanese. Indeed, I tried; I applied to two different jobs, but it was always, “no sankyu”. And my ex-wife was an anthropologist in Southeast Asian, but her main responsibility was as an international student advisor. So she wasn’t really working in a job that she had studied for. I guess taking the path she set out for herself was not so important, but it was for me. I had the opportunity to do what I had trained for. Should I have turned it down? I said, “No”. And she said, “Be my guest.” So I went.

But that was then. I had to re-evaluate how I saw relationships. Should I continue to be calculating? Should I adhere to the priorities and standards that I thought were so important in a relationship? Well, Musubi-chan answered that question for me. We were friends and we were out drinking with friends one night in Fuch・ As we were walking back to the train station to go home, she slipped her hand into mine and bang! Electricity! I know, it sounds so corny. But its true. I never thought this could be. I have read in novels about “true love”, about how you get this electric feeling and how you just know that this is the right person. I was a skeptic–“baloney” I’d say–for most of my life. But I am now a believer. I tell this to my friends, and all they can say, sarcastically, is ご馳走様 (gochisou-sama: lit. thanks for the feast)

It took me 40 years to find the right girl, but I found her in Musubi-chan. Is everything bliss? No. We have differences of opinions and argue, but who wouldn’t? I mean, we had 40 years to develop our own personalities. Do we have a perfect relationship? Yes, but I can’t explain it. She doesn’t fit all the criteria I had set out above. She dropped out of college, she is neither bilingual nor bicultural. And, not to brag, but I think I’m a better cook, although I should let my kids weigh in on that one, since they’ve actually eaten what I’ve made…. Anyway, Musubi-chan doesn’t fit all of my previous criteria–but I think we have a passion for each other that transcends mundane–albeit important–issues such as money and career.

The point is, however, finding a mate is not an exact science, at least any science that is currently found in a textbook. It is about the feeling and the passion. Musubi-chan quit her job as a successful and popular aerobics instructor to be with me in the US. She gave it up, not because it made sense, but because of her passion–I’m embarassed to say–for me… I guess, I’m pretty lucky.

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