The general consensus is that when one loves another, the feeling of deep affection and devotion comes with an acceptance of any flaws or imperfections that the other party may possess. It’s also conventionally agreed upon that one must compromise or potentially “give up” certain aspects of their solitary life when they enter or try to sustain a romantic relationship. The idea is that the affinity one has for the person that they love outweighs their own selfish desires. However, what if that’s not exactly what their partner had in mind?
In Mushishi episode eight, “Where Sea Meets Man,” Ginko comes across a man who has lost his wife to a strange phenomenon while at sea. Ginko meets him as the man is staring out at the beach, waiting for a sign that his wife is still alive, or at the very least a body so he can stop waiting for her. While he tells his tale to Ginko, a few poignant flashbacks are shown.
As it turns out, he married the younger daughter of a (one can assume) wealthy family and ended up dragging her to a remote fishing village. One day, during an argument, the man admits that she is one of the reasons why his company let him go, and that he’s shocked that she followed him out here this far. Hinting that she must have hoped for a better station in life, he tells her that it would probably be better if she just went home. Her stunned reaction is as if he slapped her in the face.
Later, while out at sea, she ends up taking a separate boat from her husband and, due to the mushi phenomenon, her boat loses sight of the shoreline, disappearing completely. He later finds out from Ginko that the fact that she couldn’t see the shore anymore indicated that she didn’t feel like she had a place to return to there. It can be inferred from this that his words played a large part in her inability to see his village as a home.
There’s no doubt that the husband in this situation cared for his wife deeply. His words weren’t said in spite or anger; he probably thought that he was being loving and selfless by letting her go back to the life that he thought she missed so desperately. The catch is that all she probably wanted to hear in those moments was how much he appreciated her presence with him, and how he wanted her to stay.
Sometimes, perhaps, people should be a little more selfish.