Mami and Stephen: Fate by mistaken identity

By on December 25, 2008

Cross-cultural, multi racial mingling is part and parcel of living in Japan. We invite couples to share their thoughts and speak up about life in our mixed up world.

This month Mami and Boone Johnson join the mix.

How did you meet?
She: We met through a business-related phone call.
He: We met by a wrong number and mistaken identities. It was fate.

What keeps you together?

She: We don’t bother each other; I want to do my thing and I let him do his.
He: On my Grandmother’s advice, we never stop working at it; constant maintenance; little dates here and there and such.

What does your spouse do that bugs you?
She: As we are bilingual, when I’m trying to focus on something (reading, TV, work) in Japanese and my husband keeps bugging me in English about some TV show like Lost.
He: Sometimes she can be really bossy. I don’t like being treated like a child.

What bugs your spouse about you?
She: I boss him around a lot; “do this,” “do that.” I treat him like a child.
He: I know it irritates her when I forget to do things and she has to get after me on them.

What do other couples do wrong?
She: A lot of Japanese women, when they get mad just go silent. It’s what Japanese call kai ni naru (becoming a shell). It’s stressful not to, but I know being quiet doesn’t help.
He: Too many couples try to hold onto their old, single lifestyles and identities. You have to be ready to change what defines you.

What’s hard about international marriage?
She: All the legal stuff. We have to always do the VISAs and immigration work together. It’s a real headache.
He: Our parents don’t speak the same language.

What’s great about international marriage?
She: The American conventions are more relaxed and I don’t have to deal with the difficult Japanese rules on youme / shuutome (daughter / mother-in-law).
He: Our parents don’t speak the same language.

How about food?
She: We are both flexible eaters. It’s trouble when one person wants to be finicky.
He: About the only thing we have in common is we are both adventurous eaters.

What interests do you share?
She: Food, coffee and Jazz.
He: Food, coffee and Jazz.

How do you want to raise your children?
She: I want our son to be a fully-realized, international person with all the influences of Japan and America.
He: I want him to be an independent, international person.

How do you handle child discipline?
She: We talk first.
He: We try to be consistent and firm.

What does your spouse want to do in his or her free time?
She: He wants to ride his bike or play video games… just like a child!
He: She wants me to leave her alone and let her watch Korean dramas.

What do you like to do together?
She: Have a date… find a little café and just chit-chat.
He: Find some place new and explore together.

We’d love to get your perspectives. To join in the mix, just send your thoughts before the end of the month to He Says, She Says c/o

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