Japanese couple Hiromi and Hidekazu Takeda have been married for many years and even have a child together, but they live an hour apart from each other and have never shared a home.
‘Separation marriages’, aka weekend marriages or living apart together (LAT), have reportedly become very popular in Japan, because they allow couples to experience the best of both worlds- on one hand, they enjoy each other’s love and support, but they also get to maintain an individual lifestyle without worrying about their partner. Basically, a separation marriage allows couples to experience the combined benefits of being married and being single, but it is important that the relationship be based on mutual love and respect.
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The BBC recently ran a story on a Japanese couple involved in a separation marriage. Hiromi Takeda describes herself as a strong, independent woman who works as a fitness trainer and gym manager. Her husband, Hidekazu, is a business consultant who spends most of his time in front of the computer, answering emails and writing reports. They have very different lifestyles, but they love and respect each other, so they don’t want to interfere in each other’s lives. The solution – living in separate homes, about an hour apart.
I rarely stay overnight at my wife’s house,” Hidekazu told the BBC. “My career carries a lot of weight and importance in my life. During my previous marriage, I was so busy with my work that sometimes I did not go home for days on end. I think is made my ex-wife very unhappy. The biggest lesson I learned from my previous marriage is that women need to be financially independent.”
“If my husband is at home, I might not feel free to do some things, which stresses me out,” Hiromi Takeda said. “This way, I’m free from that kind of stress.”
Hiromi and Hidekazu have a child together, who lives with the mother. They only meet two or three times a week, mainly when Hiromi needs help with childcare. This lifestyle works for both of them, although they admit that some of their neighbors actually think they are separated or divorced. They both believe that “living together is not essential to marriage”.
“Living together is not a mandatory requirement,” Hiromi Takeda said. “My husband and I are both satisfied with our current life. We chose to get married like this so we can feel safe because we have someone to support us emotionally while still being able to maintain a personal lifestyle. We all have the right to choose our own lifestyle.”
The couple’s decision to try the separation marriage model was inspired by past experiences. In Hidekazu’s case, it was his failed marriage to his first wife, and for Hiromi it was witnessing the tension between her parents growing up, which left her wondering if couples who aren’t happy living together should continue doing so just because it is the socially-acceptable thing to do.
The BBC reports that separation marriages are becoming increasingly popular in Japan, as they represent a flexible approach to relationships that allows people to experience the love and support of a life partner without having to compromise on their careers, hobbies, and habits.