More and more Chinese believe marriage should be based on love rather than practicality, and if the love isn't there, divorce is an acceptable way, sociologists said.
Wu Changzhen, a professor from the China University of Political Science and Law, said that the public's increasing concern over the quality of marriage echoes China's legislative efforts to strengthen marital relationships based on equality and harmony.
In the past, divorce in China was the last resort for marital problems; talking about divorce was taboo, especially for women.
Believing that all problems fade over time, Chinese couples used to remain in loveless marriages for the sake of the children, even at the cost of their own happiness.
Statistics show that there were some 90,000 newlyweds in the international metropolis of Shanghai in 2000. Meanwhile, the number of divorces stood at 30,000, the same as the previous year.
Now that China's social norms are undergoing wide-ranging changes as the result of the country's opening-up policy and swift economic development, an increasing number of unhappy Chinese couples feel it's now socially okay to part ways.
Sociologists say it's a sign of progress that people are becoming more tolerant of personal choices such as the decision to divorce.
However, a divorce offers no guarantee that a second marriage will be better, said noted philosophy professor Ding Qiong'e.
"Different problems should be solved in specific ways. Divorce should be the last resort in handling bad marriages instead of an easy escape from marital responsibilities," Ding said.
She held that a successful marriage demands joint efforts from both husband and wife to keep lines of communication open.
(People’s Daily 03/10/2001)