Child Bride: A Few Months Shy . . .

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I was not even twenty, but I was aging at a rapid rate. Right Man had once let it slip that Playboy models were “too old”—and when we were on Sado he had made that odd comment about his own sister, who had not yet reached thirty, looking like an old woman. “Iiko iiko” (“good girl”). As much as possible I had to remain just that. I thought I had been a decent person for most of my life, but being an iiko required absolute obedience—a level of rule-following to which Americans would never subscribe. This was a foreign concept, but I was starting to get it . . .

 

I slipped back into my dutiful housewife role as quickly as I had left it. Right’s fall term was underway, and he needed to succeed. Every day I put on my apron and, at our makeshift genkan entry, where our shoebox and a square piece of plastic covering the carpet separated the “dirty” shoe area from the rest of the living space, squatted with bent knees, passing my husband his hot bento box filled with Japanese-style homemade delicacies as he prepared to depart for his physics and math classes.

 

Understandably, the letter to my sister had destroyed any semblance of even the tenuous relationship Right may have managed to maintain with my family. My parents had witnessed my husband’s overbearing behavior firsthand—both with me and toward his own mother during their brief stay on Sado for our wedding. During a time I should have been budding into a young woman I was slipping backward, regressing before their eyes. Although they had always harbored concerns about Right, they had put up with him for my sake. Now they had every reason to cut him out of their lives.

 
Right was perfectly content with the situation. He had from the beginning written off my family as “low class” and a negative influence, blaming my parents for my unpolished behavior and even for the car accident of so long ago.

 
Since he was now banned from my parents’ house, Right saw it as his prerogative to ban me from seeing them. When I informed my parents of the new rules, my father, a mild-mannered man who rarely raised his voice, was pushed to the breaking point. One day, on his way in to work, he unexpectedly burst into our university apartment, pinned Right against a wall, and accused him of not knowing how to treat a woman.
Following this incident I was all but isolated in my Japanese world away from Japan.

 

Having no friends and barred from contact with my own parents, I lived the life of an exile in our small apartment. For nearly a thousand years poets, playwrights, and political figures at odds with whatever regime happened to have been in power had been banished to Sado. The famous exiles were put under house arrest, while the common criminals and homeless individuals were forced to work in the gold mine. I could imagine such characters, alone with their thoughts, going out of their minds. #Japan

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11 thoughts on “Child Bride: A Few Months Shy . . .

    • Yes we do Margaret! If it were only me that was harmed in the making of this story it would be tolerable but the fact that innocent young victims were involved kills me inside. I only have Christ and My dear husband (Pier Jesus) to get me through. My son also is good for a hug now and again.

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  1. My former husband-a pacific islander- was also very mentally and verbally abusive. He was also physically abusive. You find these sorts of people in every culture race and creed…so many of us have survived these sorts of situations. I have three daughters that are now adults and by the grace of God they are wonderful, mentally healthy young women. I stayed on my knees in prayer for them. Still do. There is hope!

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  2. I genuinely don’t mean to be demeaning in asking this – the women of my family have always been outspoken, so I don’t understand why it occurs. Also, having been a victim of abuse as a child, there was nothing I wanted, or strove to more, than escape. So, why do people tolerate this treatment?

    I understand the societal pressures that encourage meekness [and I know that Japan exaggerates this], I also understand that people can find themselves in positions wherein the have to rely on a mate to make ends meet. Still, I don’t understand.

    Though, in my recent relationship, I did dramatically overestimate the health of the relationship. My mate did not abuse me in any way, but I overlooked a great disparity in concern for each other’s wellbeing. So.. would it be irrational optimism that keeps one in these situations?

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    • Your question is a good one. I don’t think I would have stayed if my identity wasn’t so wrapped up in a culture that praises perseverance. I am aware that I was a pathetic character and I am embarrassed by it. But more than that it affected others. I also believe that age/maturity play a role and that generally one should not be too quick to become engaged or marry. A woman should have been on her own for a time before committing herself (weird term now that I think about it) to a man. Thank you for reading and commenting! By the way I have been happily married for the past 14 years to a great guy and have none of those issues these days!

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      • Aye, the healthier relationships are between people who are independent, yet choose to depend on each other.

        I am single, having recently broken up with whom I thought was to be the love of my life. But I have the blog now, to both find a new partner, and to prevent what caused the last to fail.

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  3. Please do not feel pathetic or embarrassed. My aunt, a Chinese woman married an abusive English man right after graduating from nursing college. Like you, she too was really wrapped up with the perseverance culture. In her case, the shaming culture associated with divorce and providing a father figure in the household played a more significant role so she ended up staying in the marriage longer than she should have been. She had three boys and they already graduated from college. I hope her sons turned out fine psychologically. After retirement, her abusive husband hooked up with a younger Asian woman, took off with her pensions and later died of Hepatitis. A year after that, she underwent a cardio thoracic surgery and survived. The many years of torment must have taken a toll on her health. Psychologically, she managed well as she is a psychiatric nurse. In the past, the law doesn’t necessarily favor mothers in the event of a divorce. Also, the lack of awareness regarding women’s rights resulted in many suffering in silence.

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    • Your Aunt was dutiful. It is a shame spouses take advantage of this loyalty. I have a son as well who is 26 now. For the most part he is the opposite of his father, but at times he is very hard on me and it sends me into a dark place when he is critical. I need to work on him regarding this as I would hate for him to treat any young lady like this. I was so pathetic then and it took a very long time to shake it. My husband now is so wonderful. It took me almost two years to stop saying “I”m sorry” for every small thing.

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