They say a good sign of fluency is being able to read a newspaper in a foreign language. This might be more true in a language where reading doesn't require the acquirement of thousands of unique characters, but it's still a nice benchmark to use for your Japanese.
I must admit - when I was living in Japan, I didn't read Japanese newspapers. They were available where I worked, but they were just too much for my feeble comprehension level. These days I still don't read the papers so much, but I do read online articles now and then. That's a lot easier due to the magic of cut and paste plus the availability of online dictionaries.
There is one section of one paper that frequently grabs my attention, however. Here at my office, we get a daily edition of the Nikkei (that is the Nihon Keizai Shinbun; 日本経済新聞). A lot of the articles are still beyond me, though I can generally understand what they're talking about. Every Saturday, however, there's a section called プラス1 (Plus 1), which usually contains tidbits about pop culture, food, fashion, etc. There are also often survey results, like the little piece I'm about to talk about.
I was looking at an old paper from October of 2014 and saw this neat little piece about requests spouses have for their partners. The article starts off by saying that it can be difficult to ask some things of one's spouse, but understanding what's in each other's heart can help to build a stronger relationship. Heh, perhaps.
With that in mind, a research arm of NTT conducted a survey asking married respondents what changes they would ask their spouses to make. The results are interesting, though perhaps some not so surprising. Let's have a look.
Husbands to their wives (top answers):
#1 Act more youthful
- I want her to try to look nice no matter where we are. Don't just wear pants all the time; how about trying a skirt sometime?
- I want her to always act feminine. If possible, maybe diet just a little bit more.
- I want her to wear makeup again.
#2 Organize the fridge
- Don't just leave stuff all over the place, especially in the kitchen. Even if I want to cook, I can't. Put the plates away back in the cupboard and organize the fridge, please.
#3 Look nice when we go out
- I want her to maintain her looks to at least some degree.
- Don't look like a slob.
#4 I always want her to smile
#5 What if she valued physical affection more highly?
#6 I want her to help us be more economical
#7 Don't act hysterical
#8 I want us to share our hobbies
#9 Stop being lazy at home
#10 Don't just leave things around the room
Wives to their husbands (top answers):
#1 Take care not to get that aging [old people?] smell
- He doesn't wash properly, so he doesn't get rid of his body odor. This can wear on other people, so I want him to fix it.
- Stuff like washing, brushing his teeth, and trimming his nails. I want him to properly take care of himself.
- Take care of your bad breath and BO. Wash your teeth before going to bed!
#2 Look nice when we go out
- Don't go out in slippers - wear sneakers.
- I want him to wear appropriate clothes. Don't go out in clothes that are made for a different season.
#3 Act more youthful
- From now on I want him to act young, trendy, and confident.
- Lately it looks like he's getting old, so I want him to look younger.
#4 Look after yourself (health-wise)
#5 I want her to help us be more economical
#6 Get to the point where you can cook at least an easy meal
#6 (tied) Help out with the housework without asking me
#8 Don't keep saying the same thing over and over
#9 Don't just fart regardless of where you are
#10 Don't just leave things around the room
The results also varied a bit depending on age. It seems that younger women also responded that they wanted their husbands to buy them more presents and spend more money in general. Men in their 40s and 50s said that they wanted their wives to stop complaining and thinking that things were tough only for them. Older women seemed to want more help at home from their men.
I guess you can love someone and still wish they would make some changes - that seems natural. Some of these things sound like they would be a lot harder to ask your lifemate than others. Looks and hygiene can be touchy subjects, especially.
An interesting survey, to be sure. For those readers who are married, do any of these hit the mark with you?