Postwork intimacy

Negotiating romantic partnerships among Japanese retired couples in Malaysia


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Marriage among senior citizens is often characterized by an increasing appeal to romantic love and companionship. Japanese retired men in Malaysia tried to transform their marital relations from unions based on a strict division of labor to bonds formed out of a romantic partnership. But the new marital intimacy had hidden costs for wives, as the gendered hierarchy continued to constitute the basic terms of what were considered valuable activities in their overseas retirement. Companionate relationships do not simply erase the previously meaningful hierarchy or gender roles. The forms and expressions of gendered hierarchy also shift as dependency and power may be re‐created in nonfinancial forms. The liberal rhetoric celebrated in the ideals of companionate marriage often masks the reproduction of these regulatory forms.