The Japanese In-Laws (the good and the bad)

We’ve made our annual visit to the Japanese In-laws for the New Year. Since I live in Japan I always celebrate in Japan. I’ve not been home (to Texas) for Christmas in a long time.  If we ever have kids, maybe that will change.

We are eating Nabe, clinking our glass in a call of “Kanpai”, and celebrating the end of 2016.

I feel like I won the lottery of in-laws. Mine are very open-minded and understanding.

When my husband told his father of my infertility, my father-in-law immediately said that it was okay if we never had kids. He was worried about me. While he would love grandkids, he wants his family to be happy more.  My own father has been equally understanding and said a similar thing, “Plenty are happy without children.  I just want you to be happy.”

No one is pressuring me. There is no blame or recrimination.  This is opposite of the horror stories I’ve heard or read about from many others going through infertility who have been made to feel “broken” (biologically) because of it. Or that it’s somehow their fault.

It’s just one of the many things that is wonderful about my in-laws.

I remember when, three months into dating, my boyfriend (who became the hubby) asked if I would meet his parents. This blew me away at the time because all the other foreign women said that Japanese men wait at least a year to do that.  I expected the same, but I was wrong.

From the moment we met, despite the awkwardness and language barrier, they have always been kind and humble.

Before I met them I was anxious. I heard countless in-law horror stories from other foreigners.

One American woman with three kids by her Japanese husband told about how she no longer met with her in-laws. Her husband refused to let them near her after they continued to ask her “Why are you a fat American pig?” and then refused to apologize or acknowledge any wrongdoing.

Now they only drop off their grandchildren on the New Year to see their grandparents. However, even the grandkids didn’t want to meet them as they only say things like “How is your fat mother doing?” or “Why did your mother steal our son?” or “He could have done so much better.”

Then there was the Haitian woman’s story of her mother-in-law from hell.  She met and married a Japanese man in Haiti. Eventually they moved to Japan and had a baby together. Around this time the mother-in-law asked to move in with them. The Haitian woman desperately wanted to be a good daughter-in-law and, despite reservations, agreed.

It quickly became apparent she had made a terrible mistake when her MIL ran her finger across the top of the TV and held out her dirty finger pad like an indictment and said, “A Japanese wife would never allow this.”

The abuse grew worse and worse. Every mistake in childcare or housework was met with an emphatic, “A Japanese housewife would never do this. Are all woman lazy in Haiti? Hmm?”

Finally, the Haitian woman delivered an ultimatum to her husband: either the MIL leaves or she would go back to Haiti with their child.

He made the smart choice and kicked his mother out to a nearby a apartment he set up for her. She could come visit, but would need to mind her manners. The MIL seemed aghast and sputtered, “But I did nothing wrong. I was only joking around. She is too sensitive.”

These stories made me nervous, but my in-laws were nothing like that. They are sweet hearts who have always welcomed me into their home.

They have a thirteen year old, diabetic Scottish fold who comes and snuggles up to me now as I write this. I’m surprised he hasn’t hopped onto my keyboard yet. Wait… he’s looking at it.

Okay, he sauntered off to my husband.

I’m grateful to have such a great place to spend my New Years.

I hope everyone has such places.

Have a happy 2017.


15 thoughts on “The Japanese In-Laws (the good and the bad)

  1. Your in laws sound amazing, whatever nationality they are! Glad they are so nice. Infertility is hard enough without adding horrible in laws to the mix! Wishing you all the best for 2017!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah I have heard similar stories to the ones you mentioned, and I was always so nervous to meet my FIL. I don’t have a MIL because she died before I met my husband, but I think we would have gotten along well because お父さん is just the best! He has always been wonderful to me and so kind and welcoming (even of a foreigner who has *gasp* tattoos)!

    It’s funny you haven’t been back to America. I was writing how after this year I have no desire to go back there and people can just come here to visit the children.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I feel Japan is more home now. I do miss things about home like my friends and family. I miss the food (kolaches). Although bagels are getting popular here in Japan.

      That’s great news about your FIL. I’m glad you also lucked out in that department. ^^

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s great they are so nice! I’ve lucked out with my in-laws too. I’d also heard stories about awful german mother in laws complaining about the daughter in laws house being too dirty! My MIL is really sweet. My Dad is very keen for grandkids and I worry that I might get to the stage where I want to stop IVF and he might think I should keep going. At least I have other siblings to take the pressure off I guess!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice. I was equally accepted in the 1980’s but in the end I was only supported as much as I acquiesced. My post “Divorcing My Japanese in-laws” might be of interest. When all hell broke loose in 2006, my ex MIL showed her true colors. Note my Japanese ex is serving 10-30. I was one of the early foreign wives and I was the best daughter in law. Completely obedient up to the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll definitely take a look at your post.

      It’s scary how people can hide their true colors. While this is nowhere near the same level as yours, I was really fooled by someone I thought a close friend. But on a day that she knew was very important to me, she betrayed me and showed that she had despised me the whole time.

      I never saw it coming. I hope I have learned to read people better and understand red flags. But there is always that fear.

      My uncle however went through something similar to yours three times. He has never learned. He keeps marrying these narcissistic women who destroy him.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I married my (first) Japanese ex for the culture. I loved Japan so much and he was the first sure thing. There were warning signs almost immediately after I gave him what he wanted– well before I was married as a teen. Then, even after finding out he was a pedophile, a lolikon to put it in kinder Japanese terms, I stayed because his type and preference was so commonplace there. It’s a long story…one I’ve written out for anyone who is interested in the underside.


      2. I’ve started reading more of your story to get some insight. I’ve never personally been close to someone I felt was a pedophile, but I have encountered that type. (Especially in Akihabara)

        I couldn’t imagine living or being exposed to such vile behavior in the long term. I have noticed the sexualization of innocence in Japanese entertainment.

        (In a lot conbinis, the porn section is right next to the children’s comics. Talk about poor placement.)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. In Japan who is and who is not a pedophile is obscured by child idolization. If you watch “Schoolgirls for Sale in Japan” a video report you will understand. Is it just all fantasy? Doubtful. Japanese families keep their secrets and deal with “inappropriate” behavior internally thus statistics are lacking. I’m American and so I’m talking! Thank you for reading. As a cultural insider I appreciate your comments.

        Liked by 2 people

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