Netizens dubious about marriage counselling industry
Published: Feb 04, 2021 12:20 AM

Deng Lingling (left) and Deng Junwei kiss while displaying their marriage certificates in front of the marriage registration office of the Civil Affairs Bureau of Nanshan District in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, Feb. 14, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

A hashtag for “the annual salary of marriage councilors in Shanghai exceeds million yuan” on Chinese social media website Sina Weibo has spurred debate among Chinese netizens, many of whom suspect the industry to be fraudulent.

According to reports, a marriage counselling institution in Shanghai offers courses on saving marriages, managing extramarital affairs and post-divorce healing. Its marriage management course costs 10,000 yuan ($1,578) per hour, a series of courses costs 19,800 yuan, and the marriage manager training courses cost 49,800 yuan. Marriage councilors can earn more than 1 million yuan a year. 

One marriage councilor, Zhu Shenyong, believes that the marriage management course is different from other courses on the market. Zhu says he teaches his students how to manage a marriage by using methods similar to those used in managing a company. 

The hashtag has earned 190 million views on Weibo as of Wednesday. Many Chinese netizens said that they had never heard of the occupation before and questioned its validity. Some expressed sympathy for those who need the service but expressed doubts about whether it would work.

“This is ridiculous. It is so horrible to use the money your husband gave you to manage your marriage and fall into the vicious cycle of denying marriage. An unfortunate marriage is not caused in a day. How can such a complicated problem be solved through a course or training?” one netizen said on Weibo.

“I feel sorry for the students because they have experienced an emotional injury in their marriage and are now suffering an economic scam. I hope these so-called emerging industries can be professional. It would be better to do something beneficial for society under a proper legal framework,” another netizen said.

Shen Binti, a lawyer based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday that it is hard to solve marriage problems through courses. She said the courses are usually packaged by the so-called experts, and offer some false promises. 

“They are suspected of exploiting loopholes in the law. If it is serious, it may involve criminal fraud,” said Shen. 

Xia Yinlan, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, told the Global Times that when encountering marriage problems, asking for help from the people around you such as parents, cousins and friends could help relieve the problems.

“When looking to an agency for consultation, you must pay attention to the compliance of the agency. Regular organizations such as psychological counseling, lawyers or women’s federations are safer and more reliable,” Xia suggested.

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