Newman’s Nook: Real Love is Messy

You’ve all seen the romance in anime. Hearts, cuddly puppies, romantic gestures, flowers, balloons. It’s what we’ve expected from media as the definition of romance, love, and marriage. But is that real?

The Nameko Families is a strange anime that I’ve spoken of here before. It’s a short-form anime series with no dialogue about a family of anthropomorphic mushrooms. At it’s core, the show is all about family. I loved it and recommend it to everyone. What made it resonate so well with me is how much it showed real love and real family.

How did mushrooms show real family? Things were messy, imperfect, and more accurate representation of family than I’ve seen on many shows.

The Dad’s were not doofuses. The Mother’s weren’t domineering or overbearing. People were people. They got into arguments due to misunderstandings. They made messes that needed to be dealt with. They misplaced things or even lost track of time, leading to issues with the children. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Episode 8.

In Episode 8, we see the entire courtship of Grandmother Nameko and the deceased Grandfather Nameko. By going through a photo album, she reminisces with her grandchildren about how they met, how they got married, raised children together, and his eventual death. We see imperfect love on display as he shows up late to their first date. We see them raising children together, and see the Grandfather be at times a great father and at times a less than great father. We see the phone call that changed everything when she received the news that her husband literally ate himself to death. We see them deal with loss and the tears that are shed. With no dialogue, they give us a compelling, imperfect romance with love at the center.

My marriage is no different.

My wedding picture, June 30, 2007

10 years ago today, I married my best friend. We met in grad school and after kissing her, I ignored her for weeks. She worked up the nerve to ask me why and I told her I didn’t like the idea of dating inside the department. I was kind of a giant jerk. I spent the next few months falling in love with her as we became closer friends. She spent those same months trying to drive the thought of me out of her head. After a night out with friends, I told her how I felt and asked her on a date. We began dating in December 2005. We were married in June 2007. Our marriage isn’t perfect as we’re two flawed, imperfect people (at least I am). We don’t always agree. We fight. We deal with financial issues. We deal with personal issues. Yet, at the center there is still love. We love each other and our four children. We love the Lord and strive to love Him more each day.

Marriage and romance isn’t easy. It takes work. It requires you to put in 100% effort all the time. It requires more love than you ever thought you could display. Sometimes it requires cleaning dirty butts. Sometimes it requires helping an adult when their sick. Sometimes it involves fear for the health of another. Sometimes it involves you admitting when you are wrong. In the end, though, it’s worth it and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I am more in love with my wife today than I was 10 years ago and I’m so happy she’s my bride.

Love isn’t easy like they show in the movies, but it’s the most worthwhile work in the world.


The Nameko Families (Nameko-ke no Ichizoku) can be streamed legally on Crunchyroll.

8 thoughts on “Newman’s Nook: Real Love is Messy

  1. Well said! For all the good things we can draw from media, there are too few pieces that reflect marriage and relationships as they really are, the mess that’s caused by two becoming one and the challenges in navigating them (as well as the growth that occurs when we do).

    Congratulations, and here’s to many decades more for you two!

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    1. Thank you! Life and love are messy. We see a lot in media of romance which is idealized and…ignores the reality of marriage. It’s never perfect, but it’s worth it.

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    1. Thank you very much. I am content in my marriage and know this – not all people need to get married. You can be content and fulfilled in life unmarried. I know our culture makes it seem as though marriage and romantic love is the only plausible end goal for all people, but it’s not. It’s just one choice.

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  2. This is mildly funny to me because my best friend and I have a code word for our other good friend (her ex actually) when he gets out of control and needs extra love and attention and or space and a slap in the face. We call him the mushroom because of those types of mushrooms that explode when you touch them… maybe that has nothing to do with your article 😛

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