A square and a spouse

March 18, 2017

It’s something that we like to joke about: arranged marriages by the parents. In literature and film, arranged marriages represent parents’ stubborn traditionalism.

Enter modern China. Young Chinese these days are free to marry whomever they please (with parental permission, of course). However, with China’s rapid modernization, increasing education of women, and increasing proportion of college graduates living with their parents, the younger generation will get married later than ever. This, of course, is a natural product of modernization and urbanization. As women are better educated, they are less likely to tie themselves down with a family. Unfortunately, for Chinese parents, this is a source of worry. It’s a combination of traditional values, wanting grandchildren, and “I never signed up for my kid to be at home for forty years”.

“Why has my child not found a suitable wife/husband at age 25?” Well, I see two answers. First is because of the above. Second is that your child is gay, and the intense social taboo against homosexuality in China keeps your child from coming out of the closet. This is a tragedy: LGBT people in China have never been able to escape the closet, thanks to traditional ideas. They wonder what is wrong with themselves, why no one has ever told them that being gay is natural.

Which brings me to my cousin. Mid-thirties, college educated, with a decent job. Single. He was married for a year or so before getting divorced. He’s living with his parents.

My aunt and uncle are getting increasingly worried, and they’re not alone. In fact, every Tuesday and Thursday, they go to the local square and meet other couples just like them. Carrying some photos of their son, they dress up somewhat classy before heading to the square. Other parents mill about, carrying pictures of their single (and only) child.

Yes, these parents are worried enough to go out and date for their children. If they see a picture of a girl they like, they go and greet the parents. If the conversation goes well, they exchange photos and contact information. If the son likes the picture, he arranges a date. If the kids fall in love, they get married. Easy. Simple. Honestly, the best way to get your son married ASAP.

I find this hilarious, arranged love with a modern twist. I silently pray that my parents will never go to such lengths to find me a wife.

Return to china