The high price of love

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-02-06 09:10

To marry for money or for love, this old question is taking on new meaning for Chinese youth in today's consumption saturated culture. A post entitled "Will you marry your boyfriend with no house or car?" at the popular portal website Tianya forum, has triggered a hot debate.

Posted last October, there were more than 18,000 visitors to the site, and more than 500 replies in just a couple of days.

"It's a catch-22. If you're marrying for money, you feel like you're selling yourself. If you walk into a marriage for love, in five or 10 years, you will realize that love doesn't pay your house mortgage, your phone, gas, or electricity bills," says Marsha Zhao, a communication officer for a foreign company in Beijing.

The newly-married Zhao swears her marriage is a result of pure love.

"Think about this," she says. "My husband has less of everything than I do. In education, he holds a bachelor's, I have a master's. He makes much less money than I do, and he doesn't even have a permanent residence card for Beijing. You know how much your parents care about that!"

Earning 100,000 yuan ($12,500) a year, 50 percent more than most of her peers working as newspaper reporters, the 25-year-old says buying a house or having a baby is not a priority on their agenda.

"We want our own apartment but the prices are outrageous. We just cannot afford one." The young couple now live in an apartment provided by Zhao's parents.

This love match aside, a recent online survey conducted by the Beijing-based China Youth Daily survey center indicates that marriage does have a price.

According to Fang Yihan, an editor at the survey center, 58.8 percent of men and 51.6 percent of women believe there is a "starting price" in marriage.

Among the 10,050 female respondents, 47.4 percent thought it's OK for a man to have no car, but not OK to have no house when it comes to marriage, while 39.3 percent of the 8,962 male respondents agreed. Meanwhile, 7 percent women said they wouldn't consider marrying someone with no house or car, and 11 percent men said they wouldn't propose to their girl friends if they had no car or house.

Millionaires looking for pretty partners gather at the "Love Boat" party on "Captain One" cruise in Shanghai last November. Gao Er'qiang

A typical representation of one side of the views said, "I'd rather weep inside a car instead of smiling from the back seat of a bicycle."

Olivia Jiang, 25, is still looking for her Mr Right. By Mr Right, she means a perfect combination of love and wealth.

"I don't really care if he has a house or a car, but he must have money. No matter how deeply you love each other," she says, "the marriage would sooner or later be ruined by financial difficulties."

Working for an international consulting company in the capital, Jiang finds her monthly salary of 7,000 yuan ($875) can hardly meet her needs. She wants to buy a pair of her dream shoes, but she will have to wait until the shoes are on sale. "Even so, they will still cost more than 1,000 yuan ($125)," Jiang says.

For Jiang, her ideal husband would be one making at least 100,000 yuan ($12,500) a month. Then they wouldn't have to worry about a mortgage, a car, or the cost of raising a child when starting a family.


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