One of my new taitai activities includes language lessons twice per week. My language teacher and I happen to be close in age and as it turns out, she recently got married. Of course, I’m all over this like bees on honey. I want to see pictures of the dress (dresses) and hear all the wedding planning details. Where did you meet your husband? How long have you dated? How did he propose? Etc. Well, just like everything else between home and China, there are some stark contrasts.
Let’s start with love. What’s love to got to do with it? Apparently, not much. Love has little to do with marriage here and people do not marry for love sake as we do. “You do not marry your lover” my teacher says as if doing so is silly.
Well, if not for love, then what? And how does one find a good partner if not by falling in love with them? That’s sort of spelled out as well. While traditions are changing and new generations are becoming more flexible, some things remain the same. When a child desires to marry, they must receive permission from their parents to do so. This is legally mandatory. If your parents do not like your spouse of choice, they can just say “no.” You won’t receive the necessary paperwork, etc. without their permission. It’s amazing really to see how heavily involved the opinions and influence are from the parents. A big part of this has to do with respect. Additionally, the financial contributions given to aspiring families carries influential weight as well. So, I guess if he looks good on paper you may be headed in the right direction.
Parents start planning for their child’s marriage early on in their child’s life. With boys, the parents will start to save so that they can buy him an apartment so he will be deemed as more attractive and settled to acquire a wife. In some cases, partners may opt to purchase an apartment together but it is often the case that a man will need to have this secured for his bride to be. Like us, the Chinese want the best and most secure future for their children. Here it translates into housing. This is seen as security for the future of the newlyweds as couples don’t move around, up, down or sideways like we do with housing.