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Editor’s note: this article was translated and edited from Ifeng News, and looks at the results of a recent survey carried out by Tsinghua University and Inside China regarding increasing divorce rates in China. |
The traditional Chinese concept that “a peaceful family will prosper” (家和万事兴) seems to be coming under fire of late, given the recent marriage statistics. 2009 saw over 1.2 million Chinese couples happily tie knot, though this number was overshadowed by the 1.96 million divorces in the same year. Since the 1970s, the divorce rate in China has been steadily increasing, with an estimated increase of 7.65% in the past five years.
An article entitled “High Celebrity Couple Divorce Rates” recently appeared in the Chinese media, which highlighted the fact that many Chinese celebrity couples divorced before their seventh wedding anniversary. The article stated: “Among the 30 celebrity couples around the world who divorced in 2012, 20 of them were Chinese.” Amid this broad discussion on the increasing divorce rate in China, a survey revealed that the divorce rate for couples aged between 22 and 35 in Beijing and Shanghai is over one third. What exactly has been the key factor affecting marriage in China? Could it be problems regarding children, money, or even love itself?
More recently a “Chinese Romantic Happiness” survey, conducted by Tsinghua University and society magazine Inside China, asked various couples what their thoughts on marriage were.
Survey says: most couples are actually pretty happy?
According to the survey, the top ten factors affecting the happiness of a marriage were: emotional attraction, communication, the willingness to understand each other, loyalty, children, income, sex life, relationship of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, family relations, housing, and housework. Among the couples surveyed, 59% stated they were “relatively happy,” 17.7% said they were “very happy,” 14.2% said it was “hard to say,” whilst only 8.6% stated they were “not too happy,” or “very unhappy.” The statistics regarding happy couples were 4.8% higher than numbers from 2011. The survey also revealed that couples in their first three years of marriage were the happiest, while couples married for seven to ten years were found to have the lowest rates of happiness.
80% would choose the same partner if asked to remarry
Despite the dramatic increase in divorce rates in China, this doesn’t seem to imply that most married couples are unhappy, as the above statistics suggest. In fact, almost 80% of couples said they would choose the same partner if they were to remarry. However, when quizzed as to whether they would consider an affair should they meet someone special, only 57.5% said no.
Nowadays, extramarital affairs are becoming more commonplace in China, and are even accepted to a degree as long as it doesn’t affect certain aspects of the marriage. Developments with the definition of the term “affair” across various periods of time in China also suggest a growing tolerance towards the idea. From the age old phrase of “wearing a worn shoe,” (搞破鞋, meaning a woman who is not a virgin) to the more casual sounding phrase which emerged in the 90s, ”婚外恋,” which although can be translated as “affair,” literally means “love outside of marriage.”
Despite its growing acceptance in Chinese society, affairs are obviously potential marriage killers. In light of the survey, Inside China magazine stated that cheating was ranked as the number one reason for divorce, rated 17.5% higher than the second cause, domestic violence.
In summary, according to this survey, it does still appear that marriage in China is still a reasonably successful institution. Only 22.5% of those surveyed stated that they had experienced trouble in their marriage, and only 0.5% of said they had been through a divorce.