The past year was widely thought to be an auspicious one for tying the knot but it also turned out to be a period for untying it.
According to statistics collected by the Shanghai Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau, 2006 saw surges in both marriages and divorces as people sought to take advantage of the good luck traditionally associated with the current lunar year, which has two springs.
More than 162,000 couples in Shanghai registered marriages last year so many that it was difficult to book wedding banquets.
However, 2006 was not only about wedding bells and parties. Another 37,000 couples, or 21 percent more than in the previous year, got divorced.
The two groups shared one major similarity in that most of the people involved were born in the 1980s.
A judge at a local court told Wenhui Daily that about a third of the couples who came to file for divorce in 2006 included at least one person who was under the age of 25. Many of the divorces followed close on the heels of a hasty marriage.
Statistics from the bureau showed that 70 percent of the couples who divorced within a year of getting married were born in the 1980s.
Song Weiping, the deputy director of the Pudong New Area Marriage Administration, said 4,500 couples were divorced in his district last year. Many of them were under 25.
All in haste
Two young couples divorced within a week of getting married.
"They probably got married before they were ready for it," Song said.
"And they made both decisions in haste."
Song related the story of Peng, 26, who had planned to marry his 24-year-old girlfriend in October this year. He moved the date up to the end of last year because both of the young couple's families said it would be an auspicious year.
The couple divorced a week after registering, Song said.
The couple insisted on divorcing despite efforts by administration officials to persuade them to stick together.
"They queued in line for three hours to register for marriage with the administration and then decided to divorce one week later after continuous arguing and fighting," Song said.
"They said their personalities did not match."
Wang Yu, a professor at the Shanghai Institute for Youth Management, said young people today pay little heed to the traditional concept of marriage and instead take a much more individualistic approach to life.
Wang added that they are short-tempered and give up easily.
According to the bureau, many couples decided to divorce after disputes over trivial issues like cooking duties or disagreements about TV programs.
And because people are more economically independent, particularly now that more women are working, divorce does not represent the kind of losses it might have in the past.
Still, Wang warned that hasty divorces would only create pain.
Experts suggested that young people should receive some sort of pre-marital training to better prepare them for new life as a couple.
(China Daily January 11, 2007)