So, you have been married to your Japanese wife for a few years and now you’re going through some emotional and very bitter issues within your marriage. No surprise here as this is commonplace for most marriages and not just marriages involving a Japanese spouse.
However, having said that, many marriages between an American man and a Japanese woman tend to be more strained than those of two Americans splitting up.
Getting a divorce is usually a very traumatic experience for both parties. No matter how much you think you do not love your wife anymore she has been a major part of your life for the last couple of years. Her sudden absence from your life can create a very significant hole that will be very difficult to fill.
Divorcing Your Japanese Wife
Divorce, no matter where or how you divorce, will be a financially debilitating experience… for you, the man. Divorce has a tendency to lean towards the female partner in regards to child custody and financial support after the divorce is finalized no matter where you live or filed for divorce.
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Before you move forward with getting a divorce let’s look at some key issues you may need to be aware of so you can better be well informed before you make that first and final decision to move your life in a very different direction without your Japanese wife.
Reasons Japanese/American Marriages End
As we all know in the United States 50% of all marriages end in divorce. So to say that marrying any nationality other than American enhances your ability to become a divorced couple is kind of silly. However, having said that, I do know of numerous couples here in Hawaii who are international couples, with the man being American and the woman being from Japan, where the relationship seemed doomed almost right out of the gate.
Here are three key reasons that I have witnessed, and also experienced, as to why American/Japanese marriages seem to really struggle and eventually end up in divorce.
Number One: a very selfish wife. For some reason many Japanese women are very focused only on their needs and wants. For the average American man who marries a Japanese woman this is kind of opposite of the stereotype that we Americans believe of Japanese women.
This usually manifests itself over a period of time and it may be safe to say that within the first six months to one year after the actual wedding is when the woman starts to be distant, complains about the husband not providing the things that she needs and compares her husband to husbands that are married to her Japanese friends as to what they provide financially to their wives.
This usually results in a very bitter marriage where the man feels betrayed and the wife feels resentment towards the man. Unlike here in the United States women have been raised to be a participant in the marriage in regards to financial stewardship, in Japan the man is the primary breadwinner and it is the wife who does not work but yet manages the household financial budget. I think from that one comment alone you can see why American men struggle with Japanese women.
Number Two: lack of sex. This seems to be a prevailing problem for most married couples regardless of the nationalities involved. But for some reason when a man marries a woman from Japan the sex seems to just stop and become a sexless marriage. Not sure why this is the case but it seems to be a prevailing issue even in Japan.
If you are young man and you marry an attractive and sexy Japanese lady it would be very hard to stay away from her sexually. But this may actually come to be your reality and thus become the main reason why you are seeking a divorce.
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Number Three: cultural and family differences. Once the honeymoon phase of the marriage is over and the grim reality of normalcy sets in there will be many instances where your two cultures will clash. Everything from the language barrier to how money is managed and how Japanese society views marriage and the woman’s role within the marriage.
Just one instance of this that I have personally encountered, and just about every single guy who is married to Japanese woman that I am aware of, is where a Japanese wife will state she wants to be a housewife and will not want to work and help provide financially for the family.
For me this was not much of an issue as I made a pretty healthy income and my wife could stay home and be housewife, despite living in a very expensive area – Honolulu. But if you’re an average guy earning an average wage and you are married to a Japanese woman you are going to need her to help financially by getting a job. When she refuses to get a job and not participate financially in the financial success of the relationship you will start to feel a great deal of resentment when it comes down to living on a very thin monthly budget.
Of the many American/Japanese couples that I know this is one of the more prevailing issues that seem to be the main cause for divorce. The wife insists that she is to be a housewife and that in Japan she would not be expected to work. You on the other hand, being an American, have been raised with the idea that women do go to work and even establish successful careers for themselves. In Japan, while this is on the rise, it is not as prevalent as in the United States.
Here is more on this topic from an article on this very topic www.majiroxnews.com
…practical issues concerning family and money played a large role in their decisions. One man mentions how he couldn’t afford to keep up with payments month after month. He tried to please his wife by buying a nice house, car, and going on overseas vacations. But such an extravagant lifestyle on top of paying off expensive school fees, child support from a previous marriage, and helping his wife’s parents financially proved to be too much:
“I think the reason for my divorce what that I mistakenly thought I could make everyone happy because I had a well-paying job. Ultimately, I couldn’t live up to those expectations.”
And from forum.gaijinpot.com
In general I think Japanese girls are pretty selfish and immature, yet not very deep or sincere in their feelings. This is what I get from hearing my friends talk about their boyfriends. Some are devoted on the surface but not really on a deeper level. The ones that are deeply into their guys are usually psychotically jealous and way too clingy. But you know, this really describes girls everywhere.
These are just three different reasons why international marriages involving an American man and Japanese woman seem to fail. I could go on and on based on my observations of Japanese/American couples but what would be the point.
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Want to Divorce Your Japanese Wife? Prepare Early!
If you are planning to divorce your wife who is from Japan then I highly stress that you start to prepare early, and without her knowledge. If you are at this stage of your marriage and you are contemplating divorce I’m going to assume you have tried all available methods and resources to keep your marriage together and have arrived at the conclusion that divorce is your final answer.
Why prepare early? You want to make sure that you have the advantage of putting together all the necessary paperwork required of your divorce as well as protecting yourself from any potential negative financial impact as best you can. You can only do this if you prepare early and she does not surprise you with the divorce before you can surprise her with a divorce.
This is not to say that you are going to be mean to your soon-to-be ex-wife, but you are, in fact, looking out for your own best interest as well as your child’s (if you should have a child with his soon-to-be ex-wife). You also want to make sure that you prepare early so that you are the initiator of the divorce and you choose where the divorce will take place and which court system will be reviewing your divorce documents.
I say this, as how it was explained to me, in that you want to make sure if you do file for divorce you do so here in the United States and not let her file for divorce in her native country of Japan. Therefore preparing early and thoroughly… and then filing in your own home state where you are comfortable with the divorce laws and understand them through the counsel of a quality attorney.
If she should pull the trigger before you do and file for divorce in Japan you have an entirely new legal system to learn and navigate through on top of a foreign language that you may not have complete mastery of. Everything from spousal support and child custody is very different in Japan. If she pulls the trigger before you do and does file in Japan… all I can say is: I wish you the best of luck as I feel more than likely you will get totally hosed! And, you have a higher likelihood of not getting custody of your child and also not being able to see your child for great periods of time. Such are the laws of Japan regarding divorce.
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Get educated about divorce and the process before you start. What this basically means is that you want to spend some time on the Internet learning what your obligations will be to your ex-wife once a divorce is finalized. Once you have some sort of understanding of family law in your particular state that is the time to approach an attorney and get professional guidance on this topic. I recommend that you get somewhat educated before you do speak to an attorney so you have the necessary basic knowledge so no attorney can take advantage of you during the process of getting divorced.
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Once you have spoken to an attorney that is the time to just pull the trigger and have divorce papers drawn up, filed and delivered to your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Do so quickly before she figures out what you are doing, as I can guarantee that once she knows you are thinking about filing for divorce she will attempt to file for divorce… in Japan. And you do not want that to happen!!
Be Aware of Japanese Law. Don’t be Stupid!
I cannot stress enough the fact that you must move forward with your divorce here in the United States as opposed to allowing her to file for divorce in Japan. If you should have this happen you will be struggling with a legal system you will not fully understand.
I know of several couples who did get divorced through the Japanese legal system and for the man it was a true nightmare. In each case these men lost custody of their children with several of them barely having any contact with her kids years later!!
In the United States we still have a legal system that sides predominantly with the female. However over the past several years this is slowly changing and men are getting more of a fair shake when it comes to divorce law. Depending on which state you file your divorce documents in will determine child custody and spousal support with some states being more balanced when it comes to splitting of marital assets and custody dynamics.
However, in Japan it seems to be much more in favor of the mother and the female when it comes to divorce. You really put yourself in some jeopardy by allowing her to file for divorce in Japan which will only be a lose/lose situation for you.
Advice I received from my divorce attorney when I did seek a divorce from my first Japanese wife was just this. File for divorce first here in the United States before she files for divorce in Japan. That was his advice. And after doing some research on the web I truly think that is the best direction to go for anyone seeking a divorce from their Japanese wife.
Alimony and Child Support – OUCH!!
Regardless of whether you get a divorce in Japan or the United States there is a high likelihood you will be paying some form of spousal support and child support. And of course here in the United States each state will have their own calculation methods to determine what those dollar amounts are based on your unique situation.
This is where you want to contact a local divorce attorney to discuss this very topic to get information on how these calculations are made and how it will impact you personally. Hopefully there is some room for negotiation based on spousal support and child support payments regarding your ability to spend time with your kids after the divorce. In the United States you should have equal time to spend with your child post-divorce which often looks like sharing your child every other weekend with your ex-wife.
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Again this is where I cannot state emphatically enough that you do not get divorced in Japan as the laws there are very different in how child custody and child support are enforced thus will be a confusing topic for you to figure out. Best that you to play in the US court system than in the Japan court system!
Here’s input on this topic by www.debito.org
This is the worst part of the divorce process in Japan–you just can’t stop this sort of thing from happening. Japan’s laws to secure either child support or child visitation are weak or unenforceable. Joint Custody is also not legal in Japan outside of marriage. In too many cases to recount (the Japanese government does not keep statistics on this sort of thing), after a divorce one parent gets exclusive rights to the child, then denies the other party any access whatsoever. Best example: former Prime Minister Koizumi! See “For Japanese, a Typical Tale of Divorce”, Washington Post, May 19, 2001.
Here’s additional input on this topic provided by www.majiroxnews.com
I signed the divorce papers giving my wife full custody of Emilie. I saw what had happened to my divorced friends, how their ex-wives manipulated them or cut them off completely. If I had been employed in Japan, I would have fought on principle, but without a job I didn’t have the financial or emotional resources to do that. I left Japan soon after the divorce, a broken man.
Immigration and Sponsorship – Don’t Forget This!
The question that does come up on occasion is whether you are still the legal sponsor of your ex-wife should she choose a stay in the United States post-divorce. I do know that for me when I did divorce my first Japanese wife I went to go see an immigration attorney and she drafted a letter that was sent to US immigration stating that I was rescinding my sponsorship of my ex-wife.
To be very honest with you I am not sure if that really did anything (or not) regarding my obligation to be her sponsor. As I understood it, and this may be incorrect so don’t quote me on this, that even if you divorce your wife you are still considered the legal sponsor for them to be here in the United States.
This is a very significant problem if this is the case as you will be held accountable for her actions and financial liabilities to a certain extent. As it was explained to me years ago, if my ex-wife ever went and received any kind of financial assistance from the Fed or the state, such as food stamps or welfare, I could potentially be responsible for paying the government agency back those monies; all because I am the legally recognized sponsor for this person… even though we are divorced.
Please go speak to an immigration attorney and get the specifics on this to make sure you are very well-informed. You want to make sure that when you are divorced… you are in fact divorced!!
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Try This Before Divorcing Your Japanese Wife
Before you decide on moving forward with a divorce there is one more option to consider. She probably does not want a divorce just because she still wants to remain in the United States and getting a divorce form you may jeopardize this for her.
Instead of a divorce think about living a life outside of your marriage. Stay married, stay close to your kid and have hobbies, activities and interests that remove you from your married life just enough that sharing living space with a selfish Japanese woman becomes tolerable. She no longer is a priority to you, with your son or daughter being your priority.
Develop new friendships and relationships far outside of your marriage and start enjoying life again. Don’t let your marriage be an emotional burden anymore and look at it as just a roommate situation with two people raising a kid together. Not every night, but 3 or 4 nights a week go out with your friends, meet another married woman to date and take up new hobbies. Most importantly spend time with your kid!!
I know of three different guys who are very unhappy with their Japanese wives that this is what they do. They seldom come home after work, they focus on their children and they have relationships outside of their marriage. Each of these guys is much happier that they choose this course of action as opposed to filing for divorce and losing their kid.
Why take this course of action instead of getting a divorce? Good question and here are the obvious answers:
Number One: Divorce is VERY expensive! Filing for divorce and dealing with paying spousal support/child support and attorney fees can truly wipe you out financially. Sometimes it is wiser to avoid this by coming up with an alternative that doesn’t kill your bank account and damage your future financial earnings.
Number Two: She may take your kid and disappear to Japan. This is the number one “threat” that seems to come out of a Japanese woman’s mouth when the husband starts talking divorce! She uses the kid as collateral in hopes of staying in the U.S. and thus staying in the marriage as long as possible. Watching two of my friends have their Japanese wives take their kids to Japan once divorce was discussed… these two guys barely, if ever, have a chance to see their kids! And let me tell you that this really troubles these two guys VERY MUCH… not being able to see their kids because of a selfish Japanese woman!!
Number Three: All marriages have difficult times… give it some time. That’s right! Some marriages just need time to get back on track. By having a fulfilling life outside of your marriage, away from your wife, may be just what your marriage needs to get it back on track. Either she or you will change in some fashion and the marriage will correct itself and head in a more healthy direction.
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Getting a divorce from your Japanese wife will be a very challenging and expensive proposition. I can guarantee it! Heed the above mentioned advice and get educated before you pull the trigger and you will be very glad you did. Don’t… and you will be in emotional and financial hell for quite some time. Best of luck to you!
article: Divorcing Your Japanese Wife
updated: June 12, 2016