Haruki Murakami has answered many questions from readers on his blog since it opened in January, ranging from the meaning of life to nuclear power to TV addiction, but now it has closed up shop. Murakami will be selecting the best questions and answers and publishing them plus some extras in a new book in the near future.
With the full corpus of questions and answers still available online though, some fans have gone through and discovered an interesting part of Murakami’s life that was unknown up until now: his sad marriage.
Murakami makes numerous comments directly and indirectly about his wife and their life together, and after reading all of them you really start to feel sorry for the guy.
Japanese blog Kotori Piyopiyo recently made a post where they combed through Murakami’s blog posts and presented the tidbits that dealt with his wife. Some of them are funny but some of them just make you want to give the poor guy a hug.
Take a look at some of these quotes:
(When asked “Does your wife get mad at you a lot?”)
“Well, not all the time. When a disagreement or something comes up between us, I’m the kind of person who prefers to avoid the storm while she’s the kind who summons them. I like to think of myself as a willow tree, bending to avoid being broken by the wind, snow and rain. That’s how I’ve lived the past 44 years. I think I’ve learned a lot by just watching the willow tree in our backyard.”
Um, that’s… nice? There’s certainly some good philosophy to be taken from the willow tree, to not let stressful events get the better of you, but when that stress is coming from your wife who “doesn’t yell at you all the time,” well maybe the willow tree should uproot and go plant itself elsewhere.
(When asked “What’s the trick to making up with your spouse after a fight?”)
“You give a sincere apology, obviously. There’s no ‘trick’ or anything like that. You’re an adult, so act like one: bow your head and apologize. That’s all there is to it. Just be glad it won’t be broadcast on TV or anything.
Thinking about it another way: you wouldn’t start yelling back at a train speeding at you, would you? It’s the same thing with an argument with your spouse. Don’t waste your energy, and just step out of the way of danger. That’s all you can do. Good luck with your apologies from here on out.”
It sounds like Murakami has had a lot of experience with this. You only have to get run over by a train once to never do it again.
(When asked “What do I do when my wife is upset?”)
“When your wife is upset, she might vent her anger, start blaming things on you, and you’ll wonder how you ended up in this situation. I understand this well. I’d say about 92% of the world’s husbands also do.
One thing you can do is to think of her anger venting as a natural disaster, like a tornado or typhoon. If you do, then maybe you’ll feel (somewhat) better. If you think of the anger as your wife, then you’re just going to get upset right along with her. But if you think of the anger as a natural occurrence that you have no control over, then it’ll be easier to wait it out until it blows over. Good luck, and don’t forget to smile and nod occasionally.”
Okay, so Murakami has compared his wife to a storm, a speeding train, and horrible natural disasters. Surely there’s something a little more positive he could say about her?
“I enjoy taking long drives with my wife. She usually just talks to herself most of the time, and I can never get a word in even if I wanted to. I just nod along and listen to the stereo. But sometimes she starts talking about my past mistakes or failures, so then I quickly try to change the subject with a ‘yeah, uh, well, hey recently I’ve…’. It doesn’t usually go very well after that.”
Ah yes, some nice, gentle microaggressions. That’s where the love has been hiding this whole time. Can we hear what some of those mistakes or failures may be?
“My wife often tells me: ‘There aren’t many people out there like you who never worry about anything. You should be ashamed.’
Sometimes I go into a restaurant, and I wait while reading a book to have my order taken, but no one comes, so I leave and go home. My wife always complains that I do this all the time when I’m with her, but is it really my fault?
I’m not very good with chores. I iron clothes, but I forget to clean the bathroom, so my wife yells at me like I’m a misbehaving pet.”
Say, Murakami, got any advice for how we can enjoy such a wonderful relationship?
(When asked “What’s the trick to a long-lasting marriage?”)
“Compromise. Even if your spouse doesn’t compromise, you must still compromise. That’s the important part. If you do that, then things will go smoothly.”
I, um, I don’t think that’s how compromises work, to be honest, Mr. Murakami. In fact, I think that’s the opposite of compromise; it’s just one person getting their way…
(When asked “When do you act childishly?”)
“Hm, I don’t know. One second, I’ll go ask my wife in the other room.
I’m back. She said: ‘All the time.’ Maybe that’s true? I don’t think so.”
Ohh. Glad that cleared things up. For a second there I thought it was the wife who was acting childishly. Obviously not. She would never get upset over silly things or anything like that.
(When asked “Was the model for Midori (a character in Norwegian Wood) modeled after your wife?”)
“I showed your message to my wife. She got mad and yelled: “What would make them think I was the model for Midori?!” She told me to fix the misunderstanding immediately, so that’s why I’m writing this reply now. Please stop causing problems in my household. Thank you.
Well, its been a nice walk down relationship lane with Mr. Murakami. I think we’ll end it with this one which may be the saddest one of them all:
(When asked “What present can I give my wife to get her to like jazz?”)
“This is just my personal opinion, but I don’t think you fully understand married life just yet. There’s nothing you could give to your wife and expect her to be happy about it. Life is lonely, so we must listen to jazz alone. That’s what jazz is. Remember that.”
I mean, I’m just going out on a limb here, but I think most wives, or husbands, or just about anyone in the world really, would appreciate any kind of present if it’s heartfelt. Especially if it’s something that can bring them closer and that they can enjoy together. But hey, that’s just my personal opinion. Hopefully Murakami hasn’t just been laying it on thick for comic effect during these Q&A sessions, or else his wife is about to have real reason to get mad…
What do you think of Murakami’s responses? Are they depressing and tear-inducing, or just typical for any old couple? Let us know in the comments section below!