It could revive the spirit of marriage

Updated: 2011-08-22 07:39

By Shan Shibing (China Daily)

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On Aug 12, the Supreme People's Court issued a judicial explanation of the Marriage Law, which is aimed at settling marital disputes. The judicial explanation says that "after divorce, a house (as property) will belong to the person who has paid the down payment for it", and a "daughter-in-law has nothing to do with a house bought by her parents-in-law for their son". This has triggered a heated public debate.

Some people say the judicial explanation is good news for men, but undermines the interests of women, who in most cases are the disadvantaged party. Others suppose it encourages a "Dutch treat" style of marriage and could change youths' concept of choosing a spouse. It is welcome if it makes more people marry for love, and not wealth.

"A person should not marry to own a house" is the concept that the new judicial explanation of the Marriage Law encourages. The already sky-high and still rising housing prices have forced many people to focus more on wealth and less on love and emotion when it comes to marriage. If it can help people find their true soulmates, it will be a triumph for love and the sacred institution of marriage.

It is sad to see so many people pay more attention to their personal interests even in conjugal life.

A house is an important part of our existence today, especially because it is associated with hukou (house registration) and education of the next generation. But it is a pity that people obsessed with owning property leave love and emotion on the wayside even when get married.

Gender discrimination has declined greatly today, because women can enjoy economic independence as much as men, and build careers and lead a life of dignity. Social development has reached such a level that it is discriminatory to see women as weak. It is self-discriminatory for a woman to depend on a man to change her life. It shows that she lacks the spirits of independence.

Human beings are emotional as well as rational, so is the new judicial explanation of the Marriage Law. The explanation should make people realize that from now on it will be difficult for anyone to get rich through marriage or divorce. If the judicial explanation compels people to regard marriage as a bond of love, and love alone, so be it.

The divorce rate is increasing, and increasing fast. Many couples fight bitter battles over property, especially houses, when they file for divorce. There seems to be a running duel between love and material benefits. What has wealth got to do with love and marriage? And will owning a house and losing a spouse bring real happiness?

At a time when society is suffering from cultural rupture, and it is becoming even harder for people to love and trust each other, it is not surprising that the institution of "family" faces unprecedented challenges and could even lose its prime position in society.

So if the new judicial explanation forces people to choose their life partners out of love and not for wealth, it would be a welcome relief. This should be good news for men and women both. A marriage should not be based on greed or on the thought of leading a relaxed and luxurious life. It should be a coming together of two persons, complete with their bodies, senses, minds and their souls.

The article first appeared in Chongqing Times.

(China Daily 08/22/2011 page9)