Do you know Chinese marriage and its custom?
Chinese marriage (Chinese: 婚姻; Pinyin: hūn yīn) is a ceremonial ritual within Chinese societies that involve a marriage established by pre-arrangement between families. Within Chinese culture, romantic love was allowed, and monogamy was the norm for most ordinary citizens.
Logographically, 婚 (pinyin: hūn) is identical to 昏 (pinyin: hūn, literally meaning “evening” or “dusk”). In more ancient writings though, the former has the radical 女 (pinyin: nǚ, literally “a female”). This implies that courting couples met in the evening. Similarly, 姻 (pinyin: yīn) is the same as 因 (pinyin: yīn). 因 (pinyin: yīn) means “friendliness”, “love” and “harmony”, indicating the correct way of living for a married couple.
In China, to remain single was once a problem; and to get divorced was more than a problem. What made it difficult to remain single was simply related to housing and public opinions. However, you could manage to if you just had a small room, even if it was too small to hold more than a bed, and if you were bold enough to be free from other’s opinions. But to deal with a divorce was quite different since you had to get enough reasons to make the authorities concerned agree with you. Also you must persuade the other half to say yes. In fact, you seldom got such an answer of yes owing to the band of the traditional opinions on marriage.
To get married was traditionally considered a must. There is a motto says well: “It is natural to get married when you grow up.” ( 男大当婚nán dà dāng hūn，女大当嫁nǚ dà dāng jià) So when a girl reached 28 and still single, she would get a lot pressures from relatives, neighbors and even co-workers. On the other hand, even when a couple’s contradiction came to a head and both of them were screaming: “Help, I want to get unmarried with him or her.” People around them would sing happy marriage for them: “Well, well, it is like the rain; the sky sheds while the earth keeps. Couples’ conflicts should lead to no revenge. Is it hard to find a couple who hasn’t ever confronted any problem, isn’t it?” Or “Isn’t it natural for a couple to get a peace world by punch-up?” Those were just some of the advices from the neighbors, relatives, colleagues and even the parents. And there is another motto says, ‘One day of husband and wife, 100 days of conjugal love.’ ( 一日夫妻百日恩yīrì fūqī bǎirì ēn) So you can imagine how hard for a couple to get divorced then. If you went your own way, you would find it hard to communicate with people around in the future, for they didn’t like a person who had been against the favor from them! Even worse, the resistance did often come from the other half of the couple. He or she (mostly she) refused to get divorced afraid of losing his or her reputation. The times of 1960s to 1970s once witnessed countless loveless families in China.
How quickly things have changed! In the 1990s, the divorce rate became much higher than ever and to get a divorce became much easier and simpler. People didn’t show any more surprise at such cases around. In fact, they had quite taken it for granted. And there are many new things related to divorce appeared. When you walk along a street, you can even find a few places here and there concerning with divorcees, such as the divorcees’ hotel, nursery for divorcees. To get divorced even became a fashion. When an old friend met you, he was likely to ask if you got divorced. If a person looked tortured because of the trouble marriage, one would give him a straight advice: ‘Get divorced as soon as possible!’
Now the things seem to go to the other end; that’s, getting divorced is much easier than getting married. The latter becomes more and more difficult since the demands and standard concerned is considerably hard to meet either materially or ideologically. However, more young couples live together before getting married (that is unthinkable in the old days). It seems still a paradox to say marriage has been an aggravating affair all the time. But it was and it is and it will be.