Opinion / Blog

In Chinese marriages family still comes first

By wpywood (blog.chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2014-09-04 15:55

It is said that marriage is the tomb of love; I believe this to be true in a Chinese marriage where romantic love either dies out or is replaced by affection between family members.

Social status, property and the background of all family members remains a considerable factor influencing relationships of couples either married or cohabiting in China, despite the ideology of young Chinese having been more or less “westernized”.

Young Chinese have gained more freedom to love - reckless and irresponsible behavior of immature people in the eyes of seniors; but it is never the case with marriage - a far more serious issue concerning the rest of one’s life and two families. Marriage is beyond a business of two people. What contributes to this?

First comes the family structure. We have cut down a large number of big families into smaller units with decades of family planning. But is today’s nuclear family equal to that of industrialized Western world? The major difference between the two is that they are differently shaped: the Chinese nuclear family structure is mostly vertical; while Western nuclear family structure is mainly parallel.

Marriage maybe the happy ending of a love story, but it is also the start of a longtime struggle between two families in China. Should parents step into the married lives of their children? The majority of today’s young Chinese, who may have worked for several years before marriage are still on the “upward curve” of their career. It’s almost impossible for most to save much, as their primary job is to figure out how to earn more. However, they have to look toward buying a house and preparing for a baby.

The Chinese“家”or home, is composed of two parts - the upper part being a shelter, referring to a house, and the lower part is livestock, referring to income. It’s a simple word, but turns out to be hard in the current real estate bubble. Who will offer financial support which may never be returned? It must be their parents. Such huge amounts of money that concern two families at a time makes the situation of the new family more complicated. Problems are never restricted to financial issues although it may be most tricky. Other subjects such as the education of the next generation are also potential subjects that grandparents should lend a hand in.

The vertical structure not only works from couples’ own family but also from couples to their children. Today, the major responsibility of child nursing and caring is still widely considered to be the business of women in China, despite Chinese women’s financial and social status being much improved.

It may be the nature of women that they are also inclined to shift their major focus to their children even if it means achieving less in their career. This is also true among the increasing number of highly educated women who place great hope on their children. Most pay more attention to their children than their husbands. I believe the role of today’s Chinese woman is more of a mother and less of a wife. But a good mother doesn’t make a good wife. Admittedly, they live together and spend more time together than with than anyone else, but I wonder do they really have a lovers’ world? I think this partly contributes to the current failure of relationships between couples. However, the theory that a good mother just makes a good wife dominates in China where feminism is still not robust.  

In this vertical world of marriage, when one looks up, it’s parents; and down, it’s children. While on the horizon is the world of marriage. The reason why Chinese discourage divorce even if the affection, or the so called love, is gone between couples is that the price is too expensive. It also explains why romantic love, without consideration of social and financial disparity, can’t be a popular way leading to marriage in China. 

The original blog is: http://blog.chinadaily.com.cn/blog-1385529-22463.html

Most Viewed Today's Top News