Intra- and Extra-Marital Couple Relationship and Well-Being in Contemporary Japan

Monday, 16 July 2018: 15:45
Oral Presentation
Alice PACHER, Meiji University, Japan
Delayed dating, kissing and sexual experiences among Japanese adolescence and (married) couples, who do not desire any sexual intercourse with their spouses are defining characteristics of Japanese couple relationships in contemporary society. Although sexlessness and passivity in romantic relationships are widely observable, recent survey data nevertheless reveal an increase of men and women in the age of 40s to 60s with sexual affairs other than their spouses. In addition, the social acceptance with regards to sexual affairs, under the condition that they do not negatively affect their family, has increased.

This paper focuses on the discourses revolving around sexless couple relationships and extramarital affairs from 2000 to 2017 and on interview research conducted with 42 Japanese men and women in their 20s to 40s. The aim of this study is to clarify the transformation and the characteristics of the Japanese sexless phenomenon and extramarital affairs, including the changes in the meaning of sexuality in intra- and extra-marital affairs. More men and women want to discover their sexuality through extramarital affairs, which they cannot experience with their own spouse. Even if they desire a satisfying sexual life in their marriages, the lack of education regarding sexual health and the benefits of sexual satisfaction for both sides in a couple relationship leads to difficulties in understanding how sexuality and family-life can be combined. Alternative discourses that attempt to explain the Japanese particularities of contemporary sexuality in terms of the unique Japanese culture can be dismissed.