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Senior Chinese Find New Marriage Standard
Mrs. Wang, 65, recently traveled along distance from east China's Jiangxi Province to marry her Mr. Right.

Wang's new husband, surnamed Chen, is a senior engineer in Tianjin, the leading port city in north China.

Wang had thought of finding a life partner ever since her husband died decades ago. The desire became stronger when her son emigrated to the United States. Though Wang was introduced to several male partners, she was satisfied with none. After some time, the elderly lady found her Mr. Right.

"I married Chen because we have a good understanding with each other, which ignites my love again," Wang said.

So Wang made up her mind to leave her hometown, where she had lived for most of her life, and to settle in a strange northern city with the man she loved. Soon after the marriage, the couple moved to a home for the aged to spend their remaining years together there.

Many other Chinese widows share a similar experience.

According to the latest statistics of the fifth national census, 129 million Chinese, or 10.46 percent of the country's total population, are aged 60 or above. The figure is expected to climb to 400 million during the first half of the 21st century.

Of that total, there are now about 45 million widows or widowers. With the average life expectancy climbing to 71.4, many of them have the desire to marry again. And they have new criteria in choosing a life partner in the wake of social progress.

Like people of the younger generation, they regard love, sexual harmony and mutual understanding as the most important factors in choosing life partners, breaking away from the traditional trend that values personal looks, money and social status. "More and more would-be senior lovers give much consideration to sincere sentiments rather than economic factors when their living standard has improved," said Hao Maishou, a professor with the Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences.

"Some widowers prefer to marry much younger women. The maximum age gap between the husband and wife is about 40 years," said Sun, a staff at a matrimonial agency.

"So long as they love each other, we would like to act as the go-between for them," she added.

"Such marriage suggests in some way that senior people begin to set great store by their sexual life," said Shi Chengli, a Chinese sex expert. "It is common for men to still have strong sexual desire at the age of 70. But women often suffer from ovarian degeneration. The spring-winter marriage is able to offset the physiological difference between men and women."

A sample survey showed the age gap of remarried elderly partners is 11 years on average. With this gap, most have a harmonious sexual life.

However, extramarital affairs also constitute a common problem among senior partners. A recent survey in Tainjin showed as high as 70 percent of senior partners felt the ardent passion and love between them become dim after they remarried again, making the divorce rate among remarried people increase.

A 64-year-old engineer met a 40-year partner at a ballroom and married her after retirement. Later, the engineer began to find faults with his wife and even beat her. Heart-broken, she finally decided to divorce him.

Some senior citizens would like to maintain their friendship with people of the opposite sex rather than register for marriage, even though they live together and enjoy sexual life. But they keep their assets separated.

Such relationship is neither advocated nor protected by law, said Hao Maishou.

(Xinhua News Agency February 10, 2003)

Elderly Marriage, Timeless Love
Long Road to True Love for China's Senior Citizens
Survey Gives Insight to Attitudes of Senior Citizens
China Faces the Challenge of an Ageing Population
Nation Sees Increase in Elderly
Chinese Elders Prefer Not to Live With Children
"Empty Nest" Syndrome for Elders Cause for Concern
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