There are not a lot of anime that I’ve watched with married couples in them. Sure, there are some parents in the background, but showing a married couple at the forefront of the story, doesn’t happen all the time. When it’s all packaged in a short form series, I’m all in favor of checking it out! That’s what drew me to both Love is Like a Cocktail and I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying. Both present a married couple. Both present them a bit differently. One very chastely and the other…not so chastely. Neither present a perfect depiction of marriage.
In Love is Like a Cocktail, we have Chisato and Sora. Chisato is a very proper looking woman on the outside and works in an office setting; her exact job isn’t exactly clear, but is irrelevant to the plot. Sora is a bartender and is mostly home during the day. Yet, when Chisato drinks she becomes this gooey ball of affection for her husband. Until she’s got a drink or two in her, the two of them are barely affectionate. They seem blush at the thought of holding hands. Hugs rarely happen on the show until you’ve gotten a drink or two into Chisato. The two of them clearly care for each other and are very supportive, in their own ways, but Chisato does not do much in the way of show affection to her husband unless she has been drinking. While in the anime it comes across very cutesy, it’s hardly a realistic depiction of marriage and, honestly, unhealthy.
In I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying, we are presented with a different depiction. In this show we have two people from different worlds – we have a relatively normal woman in Kaoru and a hardcore otaku in her husband Hajime. With them, we get all sorts of intimacy. The first episode talks very openly about them having sex on their honeymoon. Kisses happen on the regular. The closing song includes the two of them mostly nude (nothing is visible) in the bathtub together. While intimacy is there, there are still issues and messiness with their relationship. Hajime and Kaoru have very different likes and dislikes. Kaoru gets very aggressive and sexual when drunk, violently so. Hajime is lusting after manga and anime, keeping pornographic material around their home. While the Bible clearly has no issue with the general concept of sexual desire, lusting after those who are not your own spouse…is problematic (Matthew 5:27-28). Waving it around in your wife’s face makes it even more so.
I’m married, which I’ve mentioned on here before. My marriage is not perfect. No Earthly marriage is. We argue; we do not have the same taste in all of the media we consume; we don’t always agree on any number of things. We’re two different people and marriage does not change the fact that we are two separate, unique human beings made in the image of God. There’s nothing wrong with us being different human beings and the fact that differences may arise. Yet, in the end, my wife and I love one another. Our bond of love drives us both to try to better our relationship. We both hope to get closer to the Lord and, in so doing, become closer to one another. We hope to push toward a more Biblical marriage together.
The Bible talks all about marriage – defining it at the very beginning (Genesis 1:28, 2:24) and continuing to discuss it throughout the Old and New Testament. Marriage isn’t a battle between two competing personalities or place where we hide our feeling from one another. The Lord calls for husbands to love their wives with understanding (1 Peter 3:7), not being harsh and absolutely not holding grudges (Colossians 3:19). We husbands are called to lay down our lives for them, loving them as an extension of ourselves by putting their wellbeing ahead of our own (Ephesians 5:25-29). In a marriage, you literally give your all to your partner; and yes, this include intimate/sexual relations (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). The Bible also emphasizes that marriage is not a short-term, but a lifetime commitment (Matthew 19:5-6, 1 Corinthians 7:39).
Each of the two series get part of this, to a certain degree. In both series, the spouses care for one another and are wiling to put their spouse’s wellbeing ahead of their own. It is actually expliclty called out in I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying when Kaoru gets sick and Hajime does everything in his power to ensure Kaoru is allowed to rest and heal. Yet, in the first series (Love is Like a Cocktail) we get a relationship where without alcohol, there is no openness and a type of chastity that seems out of place. While every relationship is different, the complete lack of intimacy apart moments of drunkenness is problematic. In I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying, there is nothing chaste about their relationship – they are definitely sexually intimate with each other. They share one another’s burdens and even try to better understand each other’s passions. However the flagrant lustfulness of Hajime of others and the violent aggression of drunken Kaoru is problematic. None of these relationships are perfect. Neither is mine.
The hope in each case is that the two of them try to grow together in their relationship. For the first couple, they need to work on communication. For the second, their lust and aggression is a thing to work on. In the final episode of Season 1 of I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying, Hajime says, “Actual, everyday life doesn’t end…dramatically. It goes along quietly, sometimes in great bounds, with a mix of happiness and uneasiness.” That describes real marriage well. It’s not always dramatic. It’s not always flashy. It’s not over the top always like in an anime or manga. It’s raw, it’s quiet, and it provides a mix of happiness and sometimes sadness. Together, though, you persevere. Together, you become stronger. Together, you grow. That’s my hope in my marriage and, one hopes, what is at the core of these two anime marriages.