Culture about marriage is changing. The number of single people is rising and the divorce rate for elderly couples is growing these days. There are many people who prefer to live alone. The term Sotsukon is being heard more often in such situations. It is popular in dramas and among celebrities.
What is Sotsukon? ‘Sotsukon’ means ‘graduate from marriage.’ The word is a combination of the words “sotsugo” means ‘graduation’ and “kekkon” means ‘marriage.’ It is a lifestyle that lives independently and freely without divorce. The new word was made in the book, “Recommending the Graduation from Marriage”, written by Japanese author Yumiko Sugiyama in 2004. The writer lived separately from her husband because of conflict with her husband. And a new culture called ‘Sotsukon’ emerged in a process of redefining relationships and roles. As the divorce rate for elderly couples soared, Sotsukon became an alternative to divorce. As a result, it has become popular in Japan over the last 10 years.
It differs from separation and happens more from elderly couples than young couples. Sotsukon is to maintain an emotional relationship as well as a legal relationship. So, it is culture that respects and protects each other’s lives, not the condition where conjugal relationship is completely cut off.
There are several reasons for the trend of Sotsukon. The biggest reason is an extension of the average life. With the advent of the age of 100, the period of living with a spouse has increased two to three times. In the past, the period of marriage was about 30 years, but now it is expected to be at least 70 years. For such a long time, meeting obligations of marriage bears a heavy burden. Another reason is a change of values. In the past, Koreans thought that marriage was a greatly important thing and getting married and having children was felt to be a requirement. However, modern people think that marriage is a choice, not a must. Escaping from a marriage that incurred mental conflict with their spouse, people are trying to choose their own free life. The elevation of the status of women may contribute as a strong reason. Many women don’t conform to traditional gender roles any longer. They are actively participating in social activities and would like to be more financially independent. Therefore, the number of women who do not rely on their spouse is increasing. Because of these various reasons, Sotsukon is emerging as a trend. What is the benefit of Sotsukon? First, people can maintain a marriage. This allows you to escape from the duty and responsibility of marriage without having a large impact on your family. They do not go through the period of emotional confrontation and legal procedure because they don’t divorce. Sotsukon can also be an opportunity to think about each other’s position. Actually, there is a case that people realize the importance of a spouse and go back to marriage by ‘graduating marriage.’ Finally, people can achieve self-realization. They can pursue dreams that they have not achieved in marriage.
However, Sotsukon also has a downside. First, the financial burden can increase. The cost of living will double because they live apart. Also, although they are a couple legally, the relationship becomes ambiguous because they do not act as a couple. So it is also ambiguous as to how much they have to respect each other's privacy. Finally, it may bring couples closer to divorce. If they are too passionate about their own life, they may be removed from their spouse. With Sotsukon, it is greatly anticipated that people live freely away from marriage. However, the controversy also arises from the fact that the boundary between marriage and Sotsukon is ambiguous. It is a culture that emerged in a society where individualism is growing. What do you think about Sotsukon?