I got all up in arms about this on Gaijin Kanpai, I’ve watched fans duke it out over this (and both sides are, for the most part, wrong), and this is far too much to explain on Twitter, so I’ll post it here.
I don’t begrudge Ayu happiness. Far from it. In fact, if Ayu had married someone that she had been dating for a year beforehand, I wouldn’t be upset at all. But this marriage reeks. There’s one of two problems here – either she’s hopelessly in the sort of love that naive teenagers feel, or this marriage is more of a political nature and they’re only married for green card reasons (which I doubt, since Ayu is usually very frank and honest with her fans and they really seem to adore each other with the way they talk to one another on twitter).
Ayu has known her husband for four months. My last relationship was perfectly functional and lasted 7, then ended. Before that I had a relationship for four years – one and a half of which were happy. I would have been absolutley miserable if I married either of those guys at the four-month mark based purely on my feelings at the time. After more time had passed, everyone involved realized that the relationship would not work. How can Ayu possibly know, at four months, that this is the man she wants to be married to for the rest of her life?
It’s to the point where I genuinely don’t believe that love, as it is in stories and movies, exists. As far as “love” goes, these are your options:
1. Limerence: You can’t stop thinking about them, and you can’t help when you start thinking about them. In your eyes they can do no wrong – even if you’ve seen flaws, you ignore them entirely. You constantly worry what they think of you, or if they think of you at all. It borders on obsessive – like a very, VERY extreme crush, or full-on lightning as opposed to a “spark.” Often, due to its extremeness, it is mistaken for love, but it’s really more like a type of temporary insanity.
2. Romance: This is when the relationship is still mostly unexplored, thrilling, fun, mysterious, and just overall intriguing. This is certainly not real “love” yet. At this point the partners are dating, getting to know one another, trying to feel out whether or not this could work in the long term. This is, to me, where Ayu and Mannie still are. Marriage happens at a regrettably high rate at this stage because the intrigue gets people swept up in their feelings. Divorce is common for a reason, folks.
3. Romantic Friendship plus Sexual Interest: The term “romantic friendship” is usually used for same-sex “best friends” who share a higher degree of physical, but non-sexual, closeness. But I think this is the kind of relationship one needs before jumping into marriage, just with sexual interest included. Psychological studies have shown that at about the six-month mark, couples exit the “honeymoon period” and begin to really notice their partner’s flaws. Things start to get to us that didn’t before, we’re more easily annoyed by problems. (This is why most of my relationships have lasted 7 months, I imagine.) Once these problems are brought to light, only then can true compatibility be assessed. The result, should the relationship pass, is a level of trust and bonding that is best described as a “romantic friendship”. Whether the couple decides to interpret that as romantic love or as friendship is up to the individual couple, but in my opinion, this state is the best any couple can ever hope for. The decision to marry should be based on the type of honesty, trust, and patience that we most often associate with close friends.
4. Kinship: This is, plainly put, familial love. It has also been proven through study that after 10 years of marriage, whether the marriage happened due to family arrangement or due to love, a compatible couple feels the same way – like family. The thrill of romance is almost completely gone if the marriage happened for love, they just enjoy one another’s company, feel safe around one another, and still respect one another. Familiarity has brought about a feeling of comfort over the years. Unless problems began before this point, divorce is much less likely to happen after the 10 year mark (though it isn’t impossible).
I think I’m most upset that Ayumi Hamasaki, who I’ve always respected as being a hard-working, patient, practical person (though a perfectionist), has jumped the gun and gotten married when she barely knows someone. The fact is, at 4 months, I NEVER really KNEW any of the guys I was dating. One turned out to have absolutely no direction in life, one turned out to be manipulative and verbally abusive, one was very quiet about what he wanted so I didn’t know… you get the idea.
Mannie, at this point, could very well be lazy, suicidal, abusive, cruel, mean-spirited, grumpy, or overall just hard to be around and Ayu would have NO IDEA. The fact is, his adoration of her would be repressing his most negative feelings and emotions right now. He seems like a total sweetie but none of us really know him, and that includes Ayu. He could turn out to be a terrible person, or even just very negative. It would be hard for Ayu to deal with that.
I really do want Ayu to be happy, but I feel she is being a naive teenager in this case. Marrying someone for “love” at the four-month mark is a bad idea, plain and simple. I hope beyond all hopes that this marriage turns out to be a lucky break for both of them and lasts. I hope that he turns out to be a really nice guy. But there is nothing about this relationship that makes me think it’s gonna work out in the long run. If it does work, it will be nothing but good luck – the decision itself was a bad one.
The other, more selfish, thing that I’m upset about is that there are many women, like myself, who are working very hard to find a lasting, real relationship with someone we know we can hold on to for the rest of our lives. We’re working toward marriage, not dreaming about it. The feeling to me is as though Ayu has stolen something that myself & other women are working for.
Imagine you’re a kid walking by a shop and you see the perfect bike, so you go in and you try it out a bit. It seems like a great fit for you, so you want it more than anything in the world. So you sell your old toys, start a lemonade stand, and work your little butt off to earn that bike. Then you see some kid break the shop window and take the bike that she wants after only walking by and seeing it once. You’re proud of being principled enough to work for what you want, and you know YOUR bike will fit you way better than the one the kid stole will fit her. But at the same time, you wonder why you’re doing all this work to save up for a bike when getting it out of the window is so much easier. Someone has stolen something that you’re working for. It’s frustrating to see, and I feel like Ayu has done this.
I want to be a wife VERY badly, I want to be that one special person that a man can always rely on. I want to be supportive. I want him to be proud to call me his. And I want to feel the same about him. I want mutual trust and respect, and I want it to last for the rest of our lives. I want a real partnership with someone who is irreplaceable, and who considers me to be irreplaceable as well. I will not, and cannot, marry at four months in order to get that. I feel insulted by what Ayu has done, quite frankly. I could have been married ages ago if I took the chance that she just did, but out of principle I refuse to do so. And Ayu would be so much more respectable to me if she refused as well.
Bottom line, Ayu deserves better than to marry a man she hardly knows. She doesn’t deserve fleeting romantic happiness, she deserves LASTING happiness.
If it comes out later that Ayu and Mannie have been secretly dating for a long time, I’ll be less mad about this. I really hope that comes out at some point… but I doubt it.