Rising divorce rate a mixed blessing

By Yang Zhenqi Source:Global Times Published: 2013-7-1 18:08:01

Illustration: Lu Ting/GT

Illustration: Lu Ting/GT

With the rapid social and economic development of China over the past decade, the country is also seeing a climbing divorce rate, according to a recent report from China's Ministry of Civil Affairs. It disclosed that for the first time since 2003, the number of people filing for divorce in China surpassed those getting married.

Shanghai also reported a similar increase in divorces - the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau's latest figures showed that the divorce numbers in the city increased 13.16 percent in 2012, the biggest growth in recent years.

At the beginning of this year, four couples in Shanghai reportedly parted ways shortly after their marriage registration on January 4, 2013, which was considered an auspicious date to tie the knot in China.

The number of divorces in Shanghai went on to soar from March onwards, when the central government introduced a new series of real estate regulations to curb domestic housing prices. A host of opportunistic couples severed their legal ties in order to buy additional property without having to pay an enormous extra amount of tax.

Apart from this unusual motive for divorce, other major reasons that couples in Shanghai split up include extramarital affairs, financial difficulties, family disputes, sex issues, and disagreements over parenting.

While a high divorce rate has been common in the West for a long time, China has only started embracing this trend in the past decade or so. In the not-so-distant past, divorce was still considered shameful, or even disastrous, for most Chinese families, with a lifelong stigma being attached to the divorcees.

However, with the majority of people born in the 1970s and 1980s walking down the aisle at the turn of a new century, the once long-held tradition of sticking to a marriage - even an unhappy one - began to be challenged and changed by the country's younger generation.

For these young souls, having the guts to walk away from a bad marriage is on the whole a positive sign. The growing number of divorces in China not only indicates the country's increasingly progressive attitudes towards social and cultural issues, but also shows that young Chinese people are placing greater emphasis on the quality of their own lives and well-being.

In sharp contrast to the country's older generation, who always put their family's interests ahead of everything, their offspring choose to stay in or leave a relationship largely of their own free will and feelings. Fewer young Chinese would compromise their own happiness for an unsatisfactory marriage simply to avoid losing face or embarrassing their parents.

Yet, people's fast-changing attitudes towards divorce could also do some serious harm to the stability of our society, as many social researchers and marriage counselors have suggested.

Most of today's young couples are those born in the late 1970s and the early 1980s when the one-child policy was implemented in China. These only children were often spoiled by their parents and grandparents, creating a generation that is notoriously considered to be self-centered and intolerant.

When a dispute or a problem arises in their marriage, many of these spouses find it difficult to reach a compromise, not to mention make a sacrifice for their other half. Consequently, some of them rush to split up without giving too much thought to the consequences of their actions.

This kind of impulsive breakup only leads to more heartbreak than happiness for the divorcees and their families. Many of them will likely marry again only to find that they must face the same challenges of maintaining a relationship with a new spouse. For these troubled couples, constantly walking out the door would seem to be the only solution if they don't first learn to address their character flaws.


Posted in: TwoCents, Metro Shanghai

blog comments powered by Disqus