Young couples quick to give up on marriage

By Zou Huilin (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-06 06:49

Love is a feeling, marriage is a contract, and relationships are work.

That is the reality for many young Shanghai couples in ailing marriages, facing the prospect of working hard to get through prickly relationship problems or filing for divorce.

And many, it seems, are calling it quits.

According to official statistics, many couples aged under 30 - largely made up of "only children" born after 1980, when China launched its family planning policy - are opting to sever the marriage knot, instead of reconciling their relationships.

The latest figures show that from January to May this year, 2,100 young Shanghai couples got divorced, 10 percent up on 2006.

Last year, an average of 102 couples of all ages got divorced every day.

Couples born in the 1980s - and under 30 - are among the most likely to get divorced, with 5,876 Shanghai couples last year saying, 'I don't any more'.

Shu Xin, the founder of a divorce services company said people born after 1980 were more inclined to go their separate ways than other age groups, and more of them needed marriage counseling.

"They are more self-centered and overly protected compared with previous generations," Shu said.

"So when they encounter problems in their marriage, many of them will avoid the problem by rushing into a divorce."

Zhang Xiong, an associate professor at East China University of Science and Technology, said young couples "imprudently reached the divorce decision", a contributing factor to the increasing year-on-year divorce rate.

Other service providers, sometimes called "divorce busters", instead want to save ailing marriages. And some will even do it for free.

One team at the divorce registration center in Pudong district, has a psychologist, lawyers and gender study experts.

On its first day of operations this month, the team said it managed to persuade two couples to rethink their plans to divorce.

One couple had cited irreconcilable differences because of the husband's extramarital affair.

The 25-year-old wife, surnamed Chen, married Xu in August 2005, after knowing him only for a short while.

The couple has a six-month-old daughter.

Things started to fall apart after the baby was born, and the husband met another woman. Xu's roaming ways, once discovered by his wife, led to the couple filing for divorce.

Zhu Feng, one of the team members at the Pudong center, said she believed the couple still had affection for each other and all they needed was to "talk through" the problem and find a workable solution.

The couple reportedly decided to try and patch things up, the husband quit the affair, and the application for divorce was withdrawn.

Several divorced couples who spoke anonymously to China Daily said they would have had used such marriage crisis services, had they been available.

One woman called Lin, said: "I divorced my husband mainly because he spent little time with me and our family because he was always so busy with work.

"The service could have at least helped us identify the problems in our marriage."

(China Daily 07/06/2007 page5)

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