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American men are still more comfortable in relationships when they are the breadwinners. Another theory: A persistent glass ceiling for women at work may encourage men to believe they should also be the highest earners at home. Women bring at least half or more of the earnings in almost one-third of cohabiting couples in the U. Married men still sit on the top of the wage ladder.

The wages of married men far surpass those of all other groups: married women, single men and single women. Census Bureau. There are other reasons why more husbands earn more than their wives that have less to do with structural issues like the gender wage gap. Despite being a divorce lawyer, he describes himself as a romantic. Of course, some men are stay-at-home husbands of leisure rather than hard-working stay-at-home dads. At the other end of the spectrum, it may not behoove men to brag about their earning power before marriage.

Men who lead a flashy lifestyle are regarded as being more interested in short-term hook-ups or affairs than marriage, according to a study by Daniel Kruger, a faculty associate at the University of Michigan and Jessica Kruger, a clinical assistant professor at the University at Buffalo in New York, and published in the academic journal Evolutionary Psychological Science.

In the study, two groups of undergraduate students rated two fictional men on their perceived dating and parenting skills, interest in relationships and attractiveness to others. We must never let him feel like a bonsai in a grove of California redwoods — no, he must always see himself as a towering tree, magnificent in comparison with his female partner.

Times may be changing from the s, albeit at a slower rate than some married couples would like. Uncertain economic times and age bring a dose of realism to gender politics at home. For this purpose, investable assets was defined as the value of all cash, savings, mutual funds, CDs, IRAs, stocks, bonds and all other types of investments such as a k , b , and Roth IRA, but excluding a primary home and other real-estate investments.

As men and women hit 50 and their salary levels off, that may bring more perspective and humility to the role money plays in their marriage.

Men and women acquire more experience the longer they work and, therefore, become more valuable and productive. After 50, however, they either slow down and learn fewer new skills, economists say, or they are competing with younger, less expensive but equally skilled, employees for the same jobs. Some men are more concerned with their financial future than their egos.

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He, for one, would be much happier if his girlfriend had a higher salary and owned more real estate and other investments. You can follow him on Twitter quantanamo. Economic Calendar Tax Withholding Calculator. Retirement Planner. Sign Up Log In. The changes include a new, responsive design featuring extended-hours data and more news. Learn More. By Quentin Fottrell. As they talked in circles, Taishi found himself growing irritated. Rental apologies, the obverse of rental scoldings, can be particularly thorny.

Ishii outlined some possible scenarios. If you make a mistake at work, and a disgruntled client or customer demands to see your supervisor, you can hire Ishii to impersonate the supervisor. Ishii, identifying himself as a department head, will then apologize. Ishii grovels and trembles on the floor while being yelled at, as the real culprit looks on. Ishii says that these scenes give one a surreal, dreamlike, unpleasant feeling. More stressful still are apologies involving affairs. The idea seems to be to defuse potential violence through a combination of surprise, fear, and flattery.

In the past nine years, he has performed five hundred and thirty ceremonies. For the four-hundredth ceremony, a husband, dressed as a human-size wedding bouquet, was attached to a bungee cord and pushed off a cliff by his soon-to-be ex-wife. Fifteen couples have got back together after the slide show. On occasion, women who are embarrassed about their divorces have hired rental relatives to attend. Terai cried, and felt that a burden had been lifted.

Today, there are some forty organizations holding rui-katsu workshops in Japan, most of them unaffiliated with Terai. In addition to ninety-minute corporate sessions, Terai makes a yearly trip to Iwaki, a city in Fukushima Prefecture, to run a rui-katsu session with earthquake survivors. Terai, now thirty-seven, says that attitudes toward men crying have changed since his childhood. As an experiment, he asked younger women what they would think of a man who cried.

All of them said that they would think he was sensitive and kind—provided that he was also good-looking. Having also heard from some female rui-katsu participants that the service would be improved if a handsome man wiped away their tears, Terai felt professionally obliged to start dispatching handsome men to help people cry.

My translator, Chie, expressed surprise when I declined to book an eight-thousand-yen private room for my weeping session; I assured her that, though the swordsman was a novelty, it would be neither my first nor, in all likelihood, my last time crying in public. The swordsman, a willowy youth with chiselled features and an expression of great sensitivity, wore a garment made by a designer specializing in modernistic reinterpretations of traditional Japanese dress.

I waited in dread for the father to turn out to have cancer. Suddenly, the video was over. Nothing bad had happened. Chie, too, was crying. All the same, Terai wanted to take pictures of the swordsman drying my tears. I looked at the floor and the swordsman leaned toward me with the handkerchief. He told me about his audition for the weeping service, which had been recorded by a news program. But he had given the swordsman another chance.

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My next appointment, with Family Romance, was two hours with a rental mother, in the shopping district of Shibuya. I had been anxious about it even before I got to Japan. It struck me as unfair that I was not only going to Japan without her but also plotting to rent a replacement. One afternoon in Tokyo, on a commuter train, Chie helped me fill out the order form. I found myself telling her about the day when I was three or four and my mother, a young doctor, who worked long hours, came home early and took me out to buy a doll stroller. This unhoped-for happiness was somehow intensified by the unnecessariness, the surplus value, of the doll stroller.

For a happy day, though I remember at a later date asking my mother why mentioning it always felt somehow sad. I was worried that she would tell me not to be morbid, not to find ways to be sad about things that were happy. She stood as I approached. She returned my embrace, a shade distantly. Having booked her for two hours, I suggested that we might do both. I agreed. All of a sudden, her expression softened. I felt a mild jolt of emotion. How do you cope with all the pressure? I found myself telling the rental mother about the meditation app on my phone, and asking if she liked to meditate.

I started to interview her. After completing her education, she joined the corporate workforce, climbing to the upper levels of various international companies, before leaving her last position, two years ago. Airi registered with Family Romance shortly afterward, and now gets a couple of assignments every month. My mother had also overcome many professional barriers to reach a high level in her field, in a country different from the one she grew up in. She, too, had left her work recently.

We talked about the article I was interviewing her for. When she offered to show me around the department store even though our time was up, I found myself saying yes.

A New Watchlist

A product, in part, of Confucian principles, the ie was rigidly hierarchical. The head controlled all the property, and chose one member of the younger generation to succeed him—usually the eldest son, though sometimes a son-in-law or even an adopted son. Continuity of the house was more important than blood kinship. The other members could either stay in the ie , marry into a new one daughters , or start subsidiary branches sons. Nationalist ideology of the Meiji era represented Japan as one big family, with the emperor as the head of the main house and every other household as a subsidiary branch.

With postwar economic growth and the rise of corporate culture, ie households became less common, while apartment-dwelling nuclear households—consisting of a salaryman, a housewife, and their children—proliferated. During the economic boom of the eighties, women increasingly worked outside the home. The birth rate went down, while the divorce rate and the number of single-person households went up.

The women who flocked to India to bag a husband

So did life expectancy, and the proportion of older people. Their real son lived with them, but refused to listen to the stories. The price of a three-hour visit from a rental son and daughter-in-law, in possession of both an infant child and a high tolerance for unhappy stories, was eleven hundred dollars.

The idea of rental relatives took root in the public imagination.

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Postmodernism was in the air, and, in an age of cultural relativism, rental relativism fit right in. After she is murdered, two copies of her will are found—one favoring the son, the other the rental relatives—dramatizing the tension between received pieties about filial love and the economic relations that bind parents and children.

Since then, rental relatives have inspired a substantial literary corpus. In Tokyo, I met with the critic Takayuki Tatsumi, who, in the nineties, wrote a survey of the genre. Replacement or rental relatives continue to feature in literature and film, and appeared in three recent Japanese movies I saw on airplanes. Both the euphoria and the dread may have their origin in the deregulation of the Japanese labor market in the nineties, and in the attendant erosion of the postwar salaryman life style. Thirty-eight per cent of the workforce is now made up of nonregular workers. In , single-person households began to outnumber nuclear families.

Meanwhile, the ranks of the elderly are growing. Tatsumi showed me part of a movie in which an older woman deliberately lets a young con man scam her, because he reminds her of her dead son. The movie is set partly in a cardboard village for elderly homeless people, which really existed in Tokyo. Like many aspects of Japanese society, rental relatives are often explained with reference to the binary of honne and tatemae , or genuine individual feelings and societal expectations.

A case in point: the man who hired fake parents for his wedding because his real ones were dead eventually told his wife. It went fine. She said that she understood that his goal was not to deceive her but to avoid trouble at their wedding. She even thanked him for being so considerate. Still, although it goes without saying that many aspects of the Japanese rental-relative business must be specific to Japan, it is also the case that people throughout human history have been paying strangers to fill roles that their kinsfolk performed for free.

Hired mourners existed in ancient Greece, Rome, and China, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and in the early Islamic world; they were denounced by Solon, by St. Paul, and by St. John Chrysostom. And what are babysitters, nurses, and cooks if not rental relatives, filling some of the roles traditionally performed by mothers, daughters, and wives?

In preindustrial times, the basic economic unit was the family, and each new child meant another pair of hands. After industrialization, people started working outside the home for a fixed wage, and each new child meant another mouth to feed.

Wife selling (English custom)

The family became an unconditionally loving sanctuary in a market-governed world. Some housewives have spent tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on their hosts, working extra jobs, economizing on groceries, or extorting their husbands. In a sense, the idea of a rental partner, parent, or child is perhaps less strange than the idea that childcare and housework should be seen as the manifestations of an unpurchasable romantic love. Patriarchal capitalism has arguably had a vested interest in promoting the latter idea as a human universal: as the Marxist psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich pointed out, with women providing free housework and caregiving, capitalists could pay men less.

There were other iniquities, too. What often happens instead is that these tasks, rather than becoming respected, well-paid professions, are foisted piecemeal onto socioeconomically disadvantaged women, freeing their more privileged peers to pursue careers. Nine years ago, Reiko, a dental hygienist in her early thirties, contacted Family Romance to rent a part-time father for her ten-year-old daughter, Mana, who, like many children of single mothers in Japan, was experiencing bullying at school.

Reiko was presented with four candidates and chose the one with the kindest voice. The rental father has been visiting regularly ever since.

Mothers Shouldn't Be Grateful for Their Husbands' Help - The Atlantic

Chie and I met Reiko in a crowded tearoom near Tokyo Station. Reiko, now forty, was wearing a simple navy sweater, a plaid scarf, and a marvellous aquamarine wool coat that looked like it was in softer focus than the rest of the room. He became abusive, and she divorced him shortly after giving birth. Mana took this to mean that she was to blame for her father leaving, and nothing Reiko said could change her mind. At school, Mana was withdrawn, slow to make friends. When Mana had been avoiding school for three months, Reiko called Family Romance.

On the order form—she had brought a copy of the seven-page computer printout to our meeting—she had described the father she wanted for her little girl. No matter what Mana said or did, Reiko had written, he should react with kindness. Inaba finally opened the door a crack. He and Reiko could see Mana sitting on her bed, with the covers pulled over her head. After talking to her from the doorway, Inaba ventured inside, sat on the bed, stroked her arm, and apologized. Chie stopped when she got to that part of the translation, and I saw that her eyes were brimming with tears.

Inaba, noticing a poster on the wall for the boy band Arashi, told her that he had once been an extra in an Arashi video.


They found the Arashi video on YouTube. Inaba really did seem to be in it, just for a second. Reiko decided to hire Inaba on a regular basis—about twice a month, for four- or eight-hour stints, at a cost of twenty or forty thousand yen. To afford it, Reiko spent less on food and started buying all her clothes at a flea market. One evening, after three or four months, she came home from work and asked Mana how her day was, and, for the first time in years, Mana answered, telling her what she had been watching on TV.

To explain why they could never spend a night together, Reiko told Mana that Inaba had remarried and had a new family. When I asked Reiko if she planned to tell Mana the truth someday, her eyes filled with tears. Reiko, it turned out, had been told that Inaba might join us at the tearoom.

For a while, we all just sat there, stirring our sweetened yuzu infusions. Then Ishii was walking toward our table, wearing a dark blazer over a black turtleneck. Ishii introduced himself, addressing Reiko politely, with the Japanese formal address. She reacted with playful outrage: usually, they spoke to each other as husband and wife.