January 2, 2017

Why has the father not spoken to the mother for more than 18 years?

The wife speaks to her husband in a normal way, and the husband speaks to other people in a normal way. The couple live together in close quarters and in apparent peace and have had 3 children together. The 18-year-old son seeks help from a TV show that solves people's problems for them. Here's the video. The answer to the puzzle of the father's silence is revealed:



Via Metafilter, where the discussion is at odds with the spirit of the video. I don't recommend reading that, especially before watching the video.

59 comments:

Michael K said...

When I was growing up, our next door neighbors did not speak to each other. They were nice people and I liked the husband very much as he did fun tasks around the house and yard and let me follow him and watch. I eventually learned what had happened. The wife was a bit crazy and blamed her husband for the death of their son who had died of appendicitis. The father's crime was to have given the son some watermelon the night before he got sick. They were both lovely people.

Jane Russell and Bob Waterfield did not speak to each other when I knew them. If others were around they would direct any comments or questions to third parties. They eventually divorced.

Ann Althouse said...

It made me think of "Le Chat"/"The Cat," a novel by Georges Simenon that I read long ago:

"The novel was written, usually for Simenon, within a short period of two weeks between September and October 1966.... It tells a story of an elderly married couple in their early 70s, who have been loathing each other for years for killing each other's pets. They have not been talking, their only form of communication being occasional notes on scraps of paper. However, they are soon to understand that they cannot live without each other."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cat_(novel)

traditionalguy said...

A very controlling way to relate to another is to never acknowledge them, except for sending messages through another family member. It gives the controller a way to send orders, that also can be denied in the future. And it gives the intermediary(s) the unique position to manipulate both.

Think of two circles of people that must each be negotiated before having open access with the controller. Throw in money, and the result is great power mixed with paranoia.

Ann Althouse said...

There is a way for a couple to indirectly talk to each other by using the children.

I can't remember where I've seen this. But X speaks of Y (and Y could speak to X) with statements addressed to Z. For example:

X to Z: Your father has a dentist appointment at 8 tomorrow.... Your father needs to finish his dinner so we can get to the movie in time... Your father needs a haircut... Your father seems grumpy today. I wonder if anything bad happened at work.

Y to Z: Your mother made a very nice dinner tonight.... Your mother looks beautiful in that dress... Your mother has always been so kind to me.... Let your mother know that I appreciate everything she has done.

Ann Althouse said...

And I mean that those statements are made while the unspoken-to person is present.

whitney said...

That was bizarre and beautiful. Just so foriegn

Ann Althouse said...

I'm trying to think of other situations where a person feels he can not talk directly to the person he needs to communicate with.

There is the accused person who correctly decides he will do better to communicate with government officials through his lawyer.

There is the idea that one cannot speak directly to God but needs Jesus as the "intercessor."

A similar thing is feeling that you need to use the written word (as in "The Chat"). You need some distance from the person you want to communicate with.

I think there are a lot of songs that have lyrics that more or less say: I can't talk to you, so I wrote this song and hope you hear it and understand it's what I've wanted to say to you.

Martha said...

That is one dysfunctional husband. This is more that two decades of sulking.

Fernandinande said...

Homer: Marge? Since I’m not talking to Lisa, would you please ask her to pass me the syrup?

Marge: Dear, please pass your father the syrup, Lisa.

Lisa: Bart, tell Dad I will only pass the syrup if it won’t be used on any meat product.

Bart: You dunkin’ your sausages in that syrup homeboy?

Homer: Marge, tell Bart I just want to drink a nice glass of syrup like I do every morning.

Marge: Tell him yourself, you’re ignoring Lisa, not Bart.

Homer: Bart, thank your mother for pointing that out.

Marge: Homer, you’re not not-talking to me and secondly I heard what you said.

Homer: Lisa, tell your mother to get off my case.

Bart: Uhhh, dad, Lisa’s the one you’re not talking to.

Homer: Bart, go to your room.

JWH said...

Sounds like an Rumpole episode Rumpole And The Married Lady.

The Drill SGT said...

Wow,

That show confirms a lot of stereotypes about Japan doesn't it?

FullMoon said...

First time he gets pissed off, he will begin ignoring her again. Hopefully he will get over it in a day or so.

Virgil Hilts said...

Watching this I was also thinking - oh just Japanese weirdness. But in our family history-early/mid 1900s-were 2 sisters (both spinsters/close in age) who lived as adults in same rural house (w/ other relatives) for something like 25+ years w/o speaking single word to each other. I think it started as some quarrel about a man, and neither sister was willing to be first to break the silence.

Ann Althouse said...

Here's an excellent example of the kind of song I am talking about.

Ann Althouse said...

"That is one dysfunctional husband. This is more that two decades of sulking."

Maybe we all are sulking and withholding communicating for years and year. At least he was able to stop.

Who are you not speaking to?

What are you doing that might properly be labeled "sulking"?

Original Mike said...

How is it the kids didn't talk to each other about it? Nor talk to the father directly about his silence?

Ann Althouse said...

What nerve would it take to realize oh, no, I have been sulking all these years?

Ann Althouse said...

"How is it the kids didn't talk to each other about it? Nor talk to the father directly about his silence?"

First, it was their normal. They had to figure out that it wasn't normal.

What are you accepting as normal in your life that you might be taking too long to realize is not normal?

Michael K said...

The video was too long for me to watch the whole thing.

They certainly did not read your decluttering book.

AllenS said...

Come to think about it, it's been quite a while since I've talked to whatshername.

traditionalguy said...

My best advice is to restart your life as far from the source of the paranoid controller as possible.Throwing yourself into the grave with the living dead is useless. And it wastes of your potential.

Original Mike said...

"First, it was their normal. They had to figure out that it wasn't normal."

Yes but they did figure it out, presumably long ago.

"What are you accepting as normal in your life that you might be taking too long to realize is not normal?"

Intriguing question.

Original Mike said...

"They certainly did not read your decluttering book."

But then later in the video the kitchen was neat. I'm picturing the adjacent room full of stuff that they just shoveled in there.

Paddy O said...

"I'm trying to think of other situations where a person feels he can not talk directly to the person he needs to communicate with."

This post reminded me of Chaim Potok's book The Chosen, where the father refuses to talk to his son.

Jeff said...

Ann, here's the one I thought you would refer to first.

Jeff said...

Maybe he really was sulking and jealous. Or maybe, and this seems more likely, he found that every time he said something, his wife rebuffed or criticized him, so he just quit talking to her. And he's still afraid to speak the truth about it because he thinks she'll start in on him again.

EDH said...

Okay, doing the timeline: they conceived one or two children while he was silent?

He wouldn't talk because of her doting but he still had enough to conceive more children?

Have I got that right?

Michael K said...

"He wouldn't talk because of her doting but he still had enough to conceive more children?"

Ask Laslo. Probably doggie style.

rhhardin said...

Without looking, I'd guess that the mother doesn't have a comments section.

JML said...

I just had a 'friend' tell me he could not talk to me until he got over his anger of me voting for a person he did not approve of. He said all Trump voters except for me were sexist, misogynists, etc. He did inform me that I was a joke because I am to the right of center and that is why I had to vote for Trump, but that since I was the only one he knew that actually voted for Trump I would receive all of his anger and that wasn't fair, so out of friendship, he wasn't going to talk to me. The things we do for our 'friends.'

robother said...

It takes two to tango. The more normal way to stay in this kind of relationship is to keep all conversation light, to keep up appearances for the kids. From the man's POV, kids usually diminish the intimacy in a marriage, but, under the old code, you just suck it up and live with it as the provider.

Snark said...

I have never been married, which is perhaps why I have almost no insight into why many seem to live with the most insane compromises in marriage. People ground tied to awful, emotionally destructive situations for reasons that only make superficial sense. What a shitty, utterly self indulgent thing to do to your children.

Carol said...

I sulked against my father for 10 years or so after a disagreement. I did finally call and then visit and both were the hardest things I ever did.

It was sad because we both missed some of each other's best years.

Mark said...

There is the idea that one cannot speak directly to God but needs Jesus as the "intercessor."

What??????? If there is that idea, it was first voiced on 1/2/17 at 9:18 AM in these pages.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

I don't buy "sulking" as the explanation. I suspect the wife insisted he read Watership Down.

jr565 said...

Sulking is not the reason. That may have been the reason he stopped talking in the first place, but I think he genuinely didn't feel like his wife loved him. Even though he already got her in marriage and they had already established that bond. It's as if he was dealing with someone who he was too afraid to approach. . It's a form of social phobia at work.

PB said...

Obama. Go sulk for 18 years!

bagoh20 said...

"What are you accepting as normal in your life that you might be taking too long to realize is not normal?"

Being normal.

I just watched a show on TV where a woman had six ribs removed in addition to many other cosmetic surgeries all over her body in an effort to look like "a cartoon woman". Then I watch this video. Everyday I see or read about some incredibly absurd humans having the most ridiculous thoughts and acting on them, and I wonder how we could be so different even living in the same culture. Much of this is now programming on reality TV. I'm discovering that being normal is the most abnormal thing. We may not be able to even use the word normal for it. I think reasonable and logical is what I mean by normal, and It's getting very rare.

bagoh20 said...

""What are you accepting as normal in your life that you might be taking too long to realize is not normal?"

Supporting yourself. Spending less than your entire income. Planning ahead.

MathMom said...

This was such a sad and happy video.

So sad that the man got himself into the situation and didn't know how to get out, so sad that the wife was alone for so long, but so happy that she continued to talk to him, apparently didn't scream at him about this silence. Then, when being Japanese didn't work for the son any more and there was a possible way out, the man did this for his son, eventually doing it for his wife, and himself. It is something very brave to changed course, especially when you can't really justify years of this unbelievable behavior.

I didn't like that the audience was laughing through the whole thing. It was physically difficult for that poor man to even speak to his wife on video. I can't understand how the wife stood it for so long, but it was a wonderful thing to see them start over.

J2 said...

Ray Charles - "You Don't Know Me".

Bob Ellison said...

Ann Althouse said, "I'm trying to think of other situations where a person feels he can not talk directly to the person he needs to communicate with."

This happens routinely in international relations, of course. That's part of why we have diplomats and foreign secretaries. They can provide a useful service, but they tend to become parasites.

R.J. Chatt said...

My own family was actually much worse, a real disaster. But I'm not willing to talk about it publicly. Should I? People want a happy ending. What's the point of talking about the past which can not be changed?

Sydney said...

It must have been extremely difficult and painful for him to talk about this with an investigative television reporter. (If it was a true story.) I'm surprised he agreed to do this so publicly. But it was sad and uplifting. I wish them both well.

traditionalguy said...

Among the older wealth and power networks, the control person will simply use his Power Law Firm to accompany them or to make the communications, as and when they please. That's what Senior Partners are used for.

Which should make you appreciate Trump's style of raising children.

Xmas said...

This isn't a power play, this is "I was angry about something dumb and so I kept my mouth shut. And now I can't speak without embarrassing myself about being angry over something dumb." Embarrassment can certainly lock you up like that.

The funniest part is that they had a 3rd kid while this "no speaking" thing was going on.

Boxty said...

It's a different culture. They don't even touch or hug each other while crying or after a cathartic event like your parents talking for the first time in 13 years. They don't even talk about their feelings with each other.

Also, the subtitles probably aren't very accurate, "sulking" may not be a literal translation, and the show is reality TV so it's probably scripted to some extent.


Krumhorn said...

I know exactly how the guy feels. While it wasn't expressly stated, I imagine that sex between them became non-existent once the kids were hatched. He was reduced to soul-sapping begging. Forget the anal. How about some straight up sex?

The same happened to me. I didn't ghost her, but once the kids were out of college and married, I divorced the sex-withholding bitch.

- Krumhorn

CJinPA said...

Could have gotten complicated:

Homer: Marge? Since I'm not talking to Lisa, would you please ask her to pass me the syrup?

Marge: Dear, please pass your father the syrup, Lisa.

Lisa: Bart, tell Dad I will only pass the syrup if it won't be used on any meat product.

Bart: You dunkin' your sausages in that syrup homeboy?

Homer: Marge, tell Bart I just want to drink a nice glass of syrup like I do every morning.

Marge: Tell him yourself, you're ignoring Lisa, not Bart.

Homer: Bart, thank your mother for pointing that out.

Marge: Homer, you're not not-talking to me and secondly I heard what you said.

Homer: Lisa, tell your mother to get off my case.

Bart: Uhhh, dad, Lisa's the one you're not talking to.

Homer: Bart, go to your room.

The Cracker Emcee said...

Great literature bears retelling.

rebel deuce said...

The oldest daughter has some serious teeth problems. She needs to invest in a good dentist, who can straighten her teeth, and then she won't have to hide her smile with her hands.

tim maguire said...

I love that for 20 years, the wife knew.

EMD said...

That set design is bananas.

The Godfather said...

The discussion here is very interesting, but I don't believe the story is legit. It smells phoney phoney phoney.

On the other hand, the female presenter on the reality show is a real babe. I bet if they'd sent her to talk to Papa they would have gotten some wicked-good footage.

The Vault Dweller said...

Reminds me of a series of books I read as a child, the Great Brain series. The parents in that book instead of normal punishment methods for their kids when they misbehaved, would instead give the offending child the silent treatment until they were guilted into admitting they were wrong and asking for forgiveness.

In the book, that form of punishment ended when one of the children who didn't think he had done anything wrong gave his parents the silent treatment in return and it became a test of wills. The parents broke down first.

Lem said...

This Russian hacking needs to stop.

Mom2Es said...

She needs to invest in a good dentist, who can straighten her teeth, and then she won't have to hide her smile with her hands.

That's a cultural difference. It's normal for Japanese women to cover their mouths when they laugh so it's more dainty or something. Some Japanese call American-style laughing where you open your mouth wide and show all your teeth "the horse laugh."

Jay Elink said...

First, the Japanese don't consider that misplaced canine as needing straightening. They think of it as "cute". It's NOT considered a defect.

Second, Japanese women have always covered their mouths when they feel embarrassed.

Third, The Japanese audience apparently knows SQUAT about human psychology, let alone Freudianism.

Fourth: Althouse and the Left who used to idolize Sigmund Freud are completely SILENT about this being a perfect case of passive-aggressiveness.

Bottom line: this is a perfect example of a society that hasn't given a name to a syndrome, or a diagnosis of a human social pathology. In America the wife would have told this guy to fuck off, a long time ago.

No TV time for him!



dbp said...

I watched with the sound off since I am at work--not that the sound would have helped much, since I do not understand Japanese. The thing which struck me is how charming and normal the three siblings are.