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Marriages made in smaller cities

Updated: 2012-05-02 16:44
By Zhang Yue ( China Daily)
Marriages made in smaller cities

Zhao Luchen and her husband Li Zhen celebrate their marriage. Provided to China Daily

A growing number of people are discovering it's too difficult to find the one in major metropolises' seas of people and are fishing in smaller ponds. Zhang Yue reports in Beijing.

Zhao Luchen tied the knot this May Day holiday. "I've spent the past several May Day holidays participating in friends and colleagues' weddings," the 26-year-old from Liaocheng, Shandong province, says.

"It's finally my turn!"

Zhao went on more than 20 blind dates in the first two years after she graduated from university in 2008 at age 22.

None of them worked out.

"My hometown is a very small city," she says.

"Here, if you are not on your way to marriage at age 23, parents are usually very anxious."

Most of her colleagues were married, or at least engaged. This made her nervous.

This is commonplace among young women in many second-tier or smaller cities.

Figures from the civil affairs department of Suzhou, Jiangsu province, show half the women who registered for marriage in 2011 were younger than 25. But the average age for the same period in Shanghai is 29.89.

Zhao says many women her age in her hometown are mothers.

In November 2010 - a week after her 24th birthday - Zhao was introduced to Li Zhen, a civil servant of the same age. Li's father and two of his senior colleagues accompanied them on the date.

"We both felt very good about each other," Zhao says.

"We dated again over dinner that week. When Li walked me home that evening, he walked by my side to protect me from traffic. I felt very relaxed and safe with him."

A year later, Zhao and Li were engaged.

Neither family had difficulty arranging apartments and cars, which are customarily considered marriage prerequisites.

Zhao's family owns four apartments in the city in addition to the one they live in, and Li's family owns three. Li's parents bought a 100,000-yuan ($15,900) car for the newlyweds.

"We can choose where we want to live," Zhao says.

The couple is now on a happy honeymoon, starting in Beijing and heading to Bali. It cost about 20,000 yuan ($3,180).

"I've never been happier," Zhao says.

The top student from high school through university used to have difficulty choosing between big cities and her hometown - but not anymore.

She believes it's because she was in her hometown, where people would introduce her to suitors, that she met Mr Right.

"And I don't know how we could afford an apartment in cities like Beijing," Zhao says.

"It could cost more than all the houses my family owns."

Many youth in big cities share her concern.

Cherry Zhang (not her real name) resigned from her banking post in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, last year because she didn't believe she could find love in such a huge metropolis. So, the 26-year-old moved to Anhui province's capital Hefei.

"Every single day in Shenzhen is about work and money - especially when you work in a bank," Zhang says.

"When I dealt with my clients, I noticed many people in their 30s are still single, or at least aren't in stable relationships."

She had met a prospective husband who worked in the media industry, but the relationship didn't last. Zhang was disappointed he couldn't afford an apartment.

At 25, Zhang quit her job which paid about 20,000 yuan ($3,180) a month, and returned to Anhui at her parents' request.

She wants to settle down and lead a good personal life.

"I was so surprised to find many of my friends back home are getting married," she says.

"They couldn't believe I didn't even date."

Zhang's friends and relatives in Hefei started arranging blind dates for her. She was introduced to her husband, Xia Duo, in 2011.

They bought an apartment in a newly developed area in Hefei in mid-2011 and married a year after they met.

"After returning to Hefei, I suddenly felt love is so simple," Zhang says.

"My husband is a very nice, patient and humorous guy. He knows how to make our lives more colorful. We spend a lot of time together after work and travel a lot. But when I was in Shenzhen, I spent so much time working overtime."

Xia and Zhang are busily preparing for their Oct 30 wedding banquet.

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