China sees alarming rise in divorce
Updated: 2011-11-13 07:35
By Han Bingbin (China Daily)
A decade of change
These processes stayed in place until 2003, when the State Council launched new regulations that canceled these complicated procedures. Couples who agreed to split could get divorced on the spot.
That year, according to Ma's research, 1.3 million couples separated legally, the highest number since 1949.
"While getting divorced still underwent administrative intervention and social pressure, the low rate did not reflect the actual quality of marriages," says Qu. "To some extent, rising divorce rates actually signifies progress of society." Once the bread and butter issues were resolved, people were looking for better emotional well-being.
But it is still not a rosy picture.
A demand for better quality in a marriage and a more tolerant attitude towards divorce may have freed some from unhappy relationships, but a new generation also brings a totally different perspective.
Qu says people born after the 1980s often misunderstand the meaning of marriage. They currently make up the largest numbers of divorces.
In these newly prosperous times, young people are more given to lightning courtships fuelled by intense passion. Once the first flush of romance fades, however, they want out of the relationship instead of working out the problems. Qu says that for these age groups, the danger period is usually the first two years of marriage.
The reason for divorce is usually "incompatible personalities", but Qu says a new individualism has taken a grip on young Chinese. They want what they can get out of a relationship and are less tolerant about what the other party needs or wants.
People more selfish
Qu recalls many cases when one partner chooses to go abroad for study or work, a separation that puts enormous strain on the marriage.
"In a purely traditional culture, it's easier to produce so-called compassionate love," Qu says. "But frankly, people are more selfish these days. There are fewer compromises."
Financial benefit also drives some marriages: If the spouse cannot get what was promised before the knot was tied, such as a house or apartment, the couple may end up in court.
The irony, Qu says, is that husbands who can provide all the material comforts are also the ones rich enough to support extra-marital affairs, still the biggest cause for divorce.
"It's been a growing phenomenon among the newly rich to divorce their wives and marry their lovers," says Yang Xiaolin, a divorce lawyer in Beijing. In fact, many successful men take having a mistress as a status symbol, a fact that dismays both the psychologist and the lawyer.
Qu says the secret to a successful marriage is still the age-old solution: Love, tolerance and compromise. He also advises the young to take their time and choose their life partners carefully.
That's also what Wang believes, after her roller-coaster ride since her first union. She has faith her second marriage will be long and happy, thanks to lessons learned from her first.
"There's no perfect man. Put up with the little shortcomings. And, don't bet on a marriage with love at first sight, or passing passions. Choose patiently. It truly takes a long time to understand a person and to understand yourself," she concludes.
While Wang still cannot pin down the criteria for a good marriage, Qu prefers to fall back on a time-tested adage: Choose a spouse with similar family and financial backgrounds to even the odds and lay common ground for better communication. It makes for a better start and could prevent a possible bitter end.
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