Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Small Interruption... The Complications Of An International Marriage

I've still a few more posts on H-kun's wedding, however whilst we're on the topic of weddings, now is perhaps a good time to raise one of the complications of an international marriage. It may come as no surprise that with all of the long trips that we do, we end up spending a reasonable time apart whilst T-chan spends time with her family in Sapporo (before or after I go). Given that L-kun's getting older, there will be less and less opportunity for him (and hence T-chan) to spend long periods in Japan, so we decided to make this a reasonable trip for T-chan... although the earthquake changed our plans a bit. That's ok, and I guess I get to be a typical bachelor slob for a few weeks a year (no downside there... apart from my diet and the condition of the house/garden). However, we often don't have as much freedom as you might think when planning trips - and there's always compromises to be made.

Take this trip for example, which was largely constrained by the wedding date. March/April/May is a busy time for us - and there's always a lot going on, so selecting dates is always going to lead to schedule conflicts. So this trip, I've missed T-chan's birthday, I had to leave Japan on my birthday (btw, not a pleasant way to spend your birthday), I missed sharing Mother's Day with T-chan as well (though did spend it with my mum, which was a good thing)... and they get back on L-kun's birthday (so we don't know how we'll be celebrating that, given that normally T-chan travels very badly). That's a fair bit of shared memories that we lose... though to be fair, they become memories that T-chan gets to share with her parents, which is the great side of it.

The other very real downside is that when something does go wrong, you're not there to help. Recently, T-chan got very sick and had to go to hospital in Sapporo. And I was stuck here... basically helpless... not even really knowing what was going on (as I had a worrying email when I got home from work, then heard nothing). Thankfully email, Skype, and friends and family all came to assist, but still, it makes you think about things in a different light. The world might have been made smaller through technology, but no one ever smelled the roses, kissed (excepting what you do with your own webcam... but that's between you and it), or even held someone's hand looking by looking through the digital telescope from across the other side of the world. We therefore live with the illusion of proximity - an illusion that is easily shattered.

Thankfully, T-chan is alright now, and I can breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Even though I know we've got it very good in that we have the ability to do these trips on an annual basis - there is always a cost, and often it's not the monetary cost that bites the most. So yes, there's a downside to having a complicated international marriage (much like any marriage)... but, thankfully, the upsides are so much more rewarding. I imagine that these complications are not so unique to international marriages these days - when people spend less and less time together, and work becomes all-consuming. The days of a "normal" marriage in a traditional sense are perhaps well and truly gone.


  1. I have experienced the exact same issues as you. I too have missed birthdays of both my young boys as well as a Christmas or two, and various other occasions. Part of the reason is due to illnesses in my wife's family so it's understandable but still hard. I've also experienced the worry of hearing that my son was sick enough he had to go to the hospital in Japan while I was stuck here in America. An international marriage is definitely complicated.

  2. I sometimes think that it's no different to the challenges other people face in their lives (and marriages). And as I said, the joy and experiences I've had more than make up for it.

    Nowadays however, at least here in Australia, international marriages are fast becoming normal... though not quite yet. The true multicultural influence in Australia is one of it's many the good characteristics (even though it often doesn't feel quite accepting enough).

  3. Aww...that's hard isn't it? Missing birthdays, celebrations, not being able to be there when things go wrong. I'm glad T-san is feeling better. I guess there is an up and down side to having family around the world. However, it's great for L-kun to experience the best of both cultures.

  4. There's generally a positive and negative to most things... and whilst it's not nice to miss these moments (especially as you said, when things go wrong), there's always an upside.

    And yes, the upside here is that L-kun is enjoying being with his Japanese grandparents (improving his Japanese), and T-chan enjoys being with her family too.