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Would-be Couples Test Their Way to Marriage
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On January 14 in the United Psychology Counseling House in Dalian, a port city in north east China's Liaoning Province, Mr. Gao, 29, and his girlfriend surnamed Li were taking a test aimed at figuring out if their characters fit well together.

Half an hour later, counselors there told them their characters were complementary, and it is likely they would make a happy family.

Gao and Li are among many would-be couples rushing to have their characters examined before walking down the aisle, according to the Dalian-based New Business.

"It was love at first sight. Though we have not known each other long, both of us are old enough for marriage, and want to get it (marriage) done," Gao told the paper. "But we were worried that our personalities might prove to be incompatible, so we took the test."

Like her boyfriend, Li was also very candid about taking the test.

"We are having a good time right now, but marriage is no small thing. It is good for both of us to know if our characters work for a marriage," Li was quoted as saying.

"If a problem does arise, we can ask the psychologist to help." Li added.

According to psychologists with the counseling house, the number of lovers taking the test has been on the rise in recent years, especially among sailors and army men, whose special occupation means they have little time for social activities and few opportunities to get to know women as friends.

Most of them met their girlfriends through their friends or colleagues, and have not been dating for a long time and are more inclined to take the character test to test the pulse of the relationship," a psychologist said.

Wang Renyong, chief of the counseling house, believes whether or not a couple's characters are compatible decides in large part whether their marriage will be happy.

"A test of this kind can at least enable one to know and possibly tolerate the other's characteristic weaknesses, hence reducing the chances of post-marriage conflicts and frictions. From this point of view, it is necessary to take the test," Wang said.

But he also warned the test results should only be used as a reference, not a basis for a decision on marriage.

However, not every one agrees with Wang.

Critics say that the test cannot be taken as the sole basis for a decision on marriage, and worry that a bad result may cause many would-be couples to decide not to marry or ruin their relationships.

Whether a marriage is harmonious or not depends on a wide range of elements, such as economic situation, family background, and social values, rather than character alone, Liu Zhongquan, a Dalian-based sociologist, told New Business.

(China Daily February 17, 2007)

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