We live in a complex world in which everything around us is becoming more and more global, including marriage. My Japanese wife and I are an interesting example of an international marriage, with both sides bringing different things to the table. After 22 years of living in Japan, I’m certainly fluent in the language, but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally use the wrong word in an embarrassing situation, or get completely lost if the topic moves to something I have little experience in, like classical Japanese history. Like everyone in modern Japan, I almost never write kanji with a pen anymore, instead typing it on a computer or keitai, which makes it extra challenging when I have to fill out an insurance form in Japanese that has to be absolutely perfect or it won’t be legally binding. While my wife understands enough English to watch on occasional episode of CSI without subtitles, her skills aren’t perfect, like the time she asked for “gross lipstick” for Christmas. (She meant “gloss.”) The other day she found a box of cake mix I’d brought back from the U.S. last summer and decided to bake it. Unfortunately her brain mis-read the word “batter” as “butter,” as in “add two cups of butter to the bowl” (when the recipe didn’t actually call for any butter at all). The result was remarkably similar to the “lethal chef from hell” jokes you see in anime quite often.
International marriage brings unique challenges.