marriage woes

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.

Of course, this is a simple synopsis. I, however, just can’t get over this idea of not being able to marry whom you choose without permission from your parents. I realize this is such a foreign concept and I’m sure many back on the home front would shriek at the thought. How dare they! On the other hand, think of all the “not so great” spouses generations could have been saved from. I mean, it’s not like we have it figured out with our excessive rates of divorce. Of all the things I just don’t quite “get” here, this is one thing I kind of agree with.

4 thoughts on “marriage woes

  1. Interesting that you agree with this. Just from my personal experience, everyone loved my ex husband. He just changed in the short time we were married (or maybe even before and forgot to tell me) So yes, maybe this would work in some cases but I wonder if there are more affairs happening. Love is so powerful that if you’re not married to someone you love, it seems that if you fell in love with a co-worker or whatever, that cheating would be likely.

    Thanks for your thoughts Frannie. These are very interesting to read!

    • Yeah, I’m kind of surprised I feel this way too. I still agree with being in love with someone. I think the idea of not being in love is a total paradigm shift in thinking and way of life. I know you are not alone in your experience though too. I know many people who got married and all of a sudden things changed and not for the better. I guess my thought was people who stay in abusive relationships or with people who solely bring them down due to their own lack of confidence and ambition. As for the affair thing, you’re right. Those happen all the time and more openly in Asia…from what I’ve been told anyways.

  2. Great insight Frannie.
    My language teacher was also of the marrying age & was dating the man her parents had arranged/approved of. She had her “lover” during college & felt much passion for him. After teaching me for several months and getting close, she asked me about MY opinion of love/marriage. She explained that this man she should be marrying is a good man. A hard worker. A kind man. Then she proceeded to tell me that they never talked, he never inquires about what her passions are & what she dreams of.
    In fact, she found him extremely boring.
    Not wanting to push my “western” thinking on her, I explained what I would hope for in a man MY daughter would marry; someone who was enamoured with her, wanted the best for her, and that treasured her for who she was. Of course the chemistry helps too πŸ™‚

    Months later, I found out she had broken up with this man, got accepted into her masters program in London & is living out her dreams & passions.

    I don’t know which culture is right or wrong. There probably is no marital utopia.
    I do know that the divorce rate is 50% here in China, no better than the US.
    For now, I’ll just focus on making my marriage a long-lasting one!

    Love your posts!

    • Agreed – so thankful for my own happy marriage which includes lots of love πŸ™‚ I agree with love; I’m just intrigued with this concept. Of the few Chinese girls I know, it appears they have chosen their husbands and their parents approved. Arranged marriage is another level altogether!!! Yikes, can’t even imagine. Thank you for stopping by & reading it. Much appreciated!

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