The “weekend marriage,” a marital arrangement in which couples live apart and see each other only a few days a week, has been gaining traction in Japan.
Highlighting the lifestyle: Also known as “separation marriages” or “shumatsukon” in Japanese, "weekend marriages" were highlighted in a BBC News video uploaded to YouTube on Valentine’s Day. It features the Takeda family, who, despite having a toddler, manage to live well separately.
The couple's homes are an hour away from each other, and they only meet two or three times a week. When asked why they chose such a lifestyle, they pointed to their different daily routine: Hiromi, a fitness gym owner and instructor, starts her day at 4 a.m., while Hidekazu, a business consultant, gets up from bed at 7 a.m.
Trending on NextShark: ‘Weekend marriages,' where couples live separately, gain popularity in Japan
On their feelings: Hidekazu told the BBC that because of their daily routine, he thought he would feel guilty lounging around as his wife does household chores and manages her business. Meanwhile, Hiromi said she might feel stressed and lose her freedom if she shares the house with her husband.
Pros and cons: In a recent post, Japanese lifestyle website Domani listed some of the pros and cons of the "weekend marriage." One pro allows couples to prioritize their career and maintain the freshness of their relationship.
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One con is a potential financial burden, since each spouse has to pay their own bills. Another is a possible communication issue, since the setup limits face-to-face conversation.
How people are reacting: It remains to be seen how most Japanese perceive "weekend marriages." Hiromi and Hidekazu, for one, received mixed reactions based on traditional gender roles.
Hiromi said men tend to disagree about their lifestyle, because Hidekazu is left without a wife "to do housework, like laundry and cooking." On the other hand, women said they were envious and would "love to do that too."
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Tamako Sawaguchi, a Japanese matchmaking consultant, found that women are likely to be more aware of “weekend marriages” than men. In an interview, they found that 86.7% of women in their 20s and 30s were familiar with the term, while only 23.3% of men in their 20s were aware.
A societal shift: The number of dual-income households — a family in which both spouses are working full-time jobs — has reportedly increased in Japan over the years. Data published by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications show that such households have surpassed those with a non-employed wife in 2000, climbing to 64% in 2017.
In July, German statistics platform Statista reported that the number of dual households in Japan is now around 12.6 million. The development was attributed to “an increasing participation of women in the labor market.”
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