Frustration within the married state is as old as the institution itself. Sexless marriage? You’ve heard this story before. Condom maker Sagami Gomu, following an in-house survey, has concluded that nearly half of all marriages in Japan are sexless.
Simultaneous developments in other spheres promise, you’d think, riotous extra-marital goings-on. More and more wives work. At work they meet people. In the warm glow of fresh encounters, home and family are another world. No need to spell it out. A stale marriage need no longer be the bondage it once was.
Then there’s the Internet. Encounter sites, social networking sites. The possibilities are endless. Even the non-working housewife has the whole erotic world at her fingertips, if she wants it.
Here’s the shock: few do want it. Josei Seven (Aug 22-29) polls 500 married women in their 40s. Question 1: “Have you ever had an extra-marital affair?” Yes, say… 10.8%. No, say 89.2%.
Question 2: “Have you ever wanted to have an affair?” Another landslide victory for the no’s – 87.9% versus 12.1%.
What’s going on? Why not? Naturally, Josei Seven poses this question too, and the replies are: “My children and home are important to me” (cited by 44.4% of respondents); “It’s unthinkable from a moral point of view” (41.9%); “I love my husband” (34.3%); “I haven’t met anyone” (22.9%) – and so on. Far down the list is a reason you might expect to find much higher up: “I’m afraid my husband would find out” (10.1%).
“Shocking” seems hardly too strong a word for what this seems to reveal about the stability of marriage in the face of restlessness, dissatisfaction and easily-available remedies.
To those who have taken a plunge into infidelity, Josei Seven asks, “Where did you meet your partner?” The workplace, as expected, is the leading nest of romantic entanglement, with 31.5% of first encounters occurring there. The Internet ranks next (24.1%) while 18.5% hook up with former boyfriends.
How long was marriage enjoyed or endured before the first affair? Here too, the replies impress upon us the surprising stability of Japanese marriage, sexless or not. Eleven years, say 63%.
“Do you feel guilty?” the magazine asks. Yes, say 68.5%; no, say 18.5%; not sure, say 13%.
“Don’t call it having an affair,” says a 50-year-old housewife and mother of a daughter in senior high school. “Call it… love.”
They met on Facebook. More accurately, they met *again* on Facebook. They had known each other in high school, where they’d been members of the same after-class club. Well, this was a pleasant surprise! Her marriage had long been happy, as marriage goes. Her husband knew music and history and talked well. He was interesting. But after 20 years who doesn’t become predictable? It happens – and when it does, you face a choice. Should you put up with it in the name of responsibility and morality? Or seize an opportunity, if it happens to come along? She made her choice, and doesn’t seem to be among the 68.5% who feel guilty about it.