Don’t give up on your happily ever after
A growing number of young Chinese are declining to tie the knot these days, opting instead to focus on their careers or even cohabit without ever going through the nuptials.
A survey conducted during the summer by the Center for Population and Development Policy Studies in Shanghai found that nearly onein-five men and one-ineight women born between 1980 and 1989 have never married.
Figures released recently by the Ministry of Civil Affairs reflect this, with marriage rates trending downward from a peak of 9.92 per 1,000 people in 2012, while the number of divorces per 1,000 doubled in the decade through to last year.
But why should this be? Well, as a member of the post-80s generation myself (albeit from the United Kingdom), perhaps I can hazard a guess.
It could be a money issue. Weddings are expensive things, after all — I’m due to get married later this month — so I know this fact all too well. Or maybe it’s a lack of time among a youth that is increasingly getting swept up in fast-paced, urbanized lifestyles.
I’d like to venture that no small part of the reason is that marriage in today’s world can seem like something of an anachronism.
As a society, we attach special significance to marriage and for some people it may hold much greater meaning than a simple piece of paper. But in the eyes of the law, that’s all it is really – a contract between two people that can either be honored or broken.
There was a time when, even if you reneged on the terms of that contract (or no longer wished to be bound by it), you would find it exceedingly difficult to release yourself from its constraints.
Fortunately, many of us no longer live in a world where the law, or social mores, keep us locked in unhappy marriages. But this gradual change in society has also led to a consequent increase in divorce.
Which makes it easy to be cynical. And I get it, I really do. Because marriage is scary.
It’s a bet you make on another person. A risk you take despite the odds.
It’s a leap of faith that can be too great for some to want to attempt. Certainly, for the longest time, I thought it would be for me.
But then I met the person who makes me truly happy, and who I do my darnedest to make happy in return.
And all that apprehension, that fear and concern. It didn’t go away. It didn’t just magically disappear. It just didn’t seem to matter so much anymore.
So I decided to make the leap; trepidation be damned. And I’m thankful the one I love is willing to make that leap with me.
Who knows, maybe our fate is to become just another divorce statistic. But for once — uncharacteristically — I’m optimistic.
Here’s hoping for a soft landing.
Greg Fountain Second Thoughts