Don’t give up on your hap­pily ever af­ter

China Daily - - PAGE TWO - Greg Foun­tain Con­tact the writer at gre­gory@chi­

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.

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