Monday, October 17, 2005

Honey, guess what I read in the paper?

Today's Washington Post had an interesting article by Anthony Faiola about a growing phenomenon in Japan called Retired Husband Syndrome (or RHS). Older Japanese women who found themselves in subservient marriages at least had some relief from their indentured servitude when their husbands went to work. But now, those husbands are retiring, spending all day around the house, and expecting the same level of attention from their wives all day long. As you might expect, those women - who probably weren't all that happy to begin with - are becoming completely miserable under these conditions.

Here's an excerpt quoting 63-year-old Sakura Terakawa, the focus of the Post article:

"'This is it,' I remember thinking. 'I am going to have to divorce him now,' " Terakawa recalled. "It was bad enough that I had to wait on him when he came home from work. But having him around the house all the time was more than I could possibly bear."

The stress Terakawa felt from the situation manifested itself through stomach ulcers, slurred speech, rashes, and polyps in her throat. Why does she stay with her husband? The financial prospects for a 63-year-old divorcee who's spent her life being a housewife hardly look promising. One wonders how Terakawa's children feel about the situation.

I don't want to joke about this too much, because it's a sad set of circumstances. But as I finished the article, one thought came to mind: Let's say you're Sakura Terakawa's husband, and you're reading the newspaper over breakfast this morning. What happens if/ when you stumble upon this story? How's that morning coffee tasting? How sour did that grapefruit turn? Did you choke on your cereal?

Yikes. You thought the marriage was tense before...