From No Beginning to Happily Ever After: A Vietnamese-Japanese Story

However, the technical expert at a clothing factory in Binh Thuan province did not expect fate to bring them together again.

Fumiaki, 47, says: “The first time I met her, I was impressed by the girly dress she was wearing. She stood out in a crowded room in work clothes.”

His impression of Hoang Viet Tuyen, a translator, was further enhanced after hearing her speak to clients.

Less than a month after taking office, Tuyen was assigned to work as his personal interpreter.

The first day he saw her sitting next to him, his eyes lit up. But she remained very professional.

Tuyen was impressed with Fumiaki because he “demanded everything to be so perfect that I felt suffocated.”

She often shouted and talked so much that Tuyen told her colleagues, “Whoever marries this man will have tinnitus.

But after working with him, she realized that he was a kind-hearted person, always trying to help struggling workers.

He also gained more and more knowledge about the clothing industry thanks to his detailed instructions.

Fumiaki’s love for Tuyen grew stronger and stronger. Working with Tuyen was making his dull single life suddenly happier. He realized that he liked to go to the office every day.

However, when people asked her if she liked her, her emphatic response was, “I don’t want to love a single mother. She has two children and I can’t afford to raise them.”

As a man who had never been married, he did not want to marry a single mother. “I was struggling to choose between my heart and my mind,” he remembers.

He visited her home for his youngest son’s birthday and stayed late into the night.

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The next day, when they accidentally met at the factory gate, Fumiaki said to Tuyen, “I like you very much. But if we get married, how can I raise your children?”

Tuyen, Fumiaki, and their children in Japan in March 2020. Photo: VnExpress/Tuyen Chan

Tuyen, Fumiaki, and their children in Japan in March 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Tuyen Chan

After that, he visited her house every weekend. She did housework and played with the children so that Tuyen had time to cook.

“I realized that she was not only a capable employee, but also a good mother. Tuyen’s children were also adorable.”

After a while he asked her to be his girlfriend, but she refused and got straight to the point: “I am old and not pretty. I have two children. How can we be a couple?”

Her previous marriage had ended when her first child was two years old and her second was three months old.

Her heart still ached from the divorce and she wasn’t looking forward to getting married. “At the time she wasn’t in the mood to think about love,” she remembers.

But he insisted and refused to take no for an answer, telling her, “It just proves that you’ve worked so hard to raise these two angels.”

Later that day they became boyfriend and girlfriend.

When Tuyen’s mother found out that she had a boyfriend, she worried that the children would get in her way and offered to take care of them. But Tuyen decided not to leave his children, thinking that the relationship was simply due to loneliness and that one day his boyfriend might leave.

Then came another storm in Tuyen’s life. In 2016 his mother had a brain tumor. Before going into surgery, she told Tuyen that she had been scammed and that she had a huge debt to pay.

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The surgery left her mother intellectually disabled. Her family sold everything she had and Tuyen also used her salary to pay off the debt. Since they had no place to live, she had to rent a room for her parents and her two children. Every day, creditors knocked on the door and she had to work overtime in order to keep paying the debts.

During those difficult days, in addition to giving her encouragement, Fumiaki also came to take care of her children and fill her refrigerator with food.

“The nicer he was, the more guilty I felt. Even though I was deeply in love with him, I wanted to end the relationship.”

After three years of being together, they broke up. Fumiaki, saddened by the events, moved to Binh Dinh province for six months to try to forget what had happened. He then decided to return to Japan. Before leaving Vietnam, he asked Tuyen to meet him one last time.

But when they met, they couldn’t bear to part with each other.

Three months later, Tuyen found out that she was pregnant. They decided to get married.

Fumiaki with his children at a Christmas event in 2019. Photo: VnExpress/Tuyen Chan

Fumiaki with his three children at a Christmas event in 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Tuyen Chan

In 2019, after her mother died, she took her and her stepchildren to Japan.

Both Tuyen and Fumiaki were concerned when he met their mother, fearing that she would not accept an unemployed daughter-in-law with two children of her own.

But she turned out to be kind and said, “You must not think that they are your own children. You must not allow your husband to discriminate against them. Do not allow them to be harmed. I have made it very clear to Suzuki that if he marries you, he must treat them like their own children. If you have any problems, just call me.”

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Knowing that Tuyen was busy, her mother-in-law often came to help her with the housework. She bought cosmetics for Tuyen and reminded her to take care of herself.

Tuyen says, “My mother-in-law often tells me and my husband that if a wife looks happy, she definitely has a good husband.”

Fumiaki cooks for his family.  Photo: VnExpress/Tuyen Chan

Fumiaki cooks for his family. Photo by VnExpress/Tuyen Chan

On the advice of his mother, he bought expensive clothes for his two stepsons. She explained to Tuyen that since they were foreign children and didn’t speak Japanese fluently, they should dress nicely so that her friends wouldn’t look down on them.

Ngo Hien, 39, a close friend of Tuyen’s, says that since marrying Fumiaki, Tuyen has become a different and happier person.

“At first, I was worried about Tuyen. However, after meeting Suzuki and seeing him play with his two step-children, I think he is a good man.”

Now both husband and wife work as managers in a clothing company in Tokyo. The burden of raising children is not as much of an issue as she had feared.

Every day she gets up early to cook together with Tuyen and get her children ready for school.

Tuyen says, “Every time my children and I come home, the house is clean and the food is ready. He is the compensation for the misfortunes I experienced in life.”