An interesting comparison between what I call Western marriages and Chinese marriages in China. I use the term western very loosely to include those in Australia, NZ, UK, USA and Canada for example. I can speak about these countries because I know the marriage and divorce statistics. And of course I can speak about China. China is my specialised study for many years and I was born into a Chinese family. In modern China divorce is common. Since 1978, it is even more common. What are the factors for this high rate of divorce? The factors are to do with dual careers, pressure from in law's, high cost of living, and so on. Much the same as in western societies.
However, in spite of these similarities. the divorce rate is still lower in China. This is because of a number of Chinese women especially in the older age group say in their fifties and sixties did not see that infidelities is their husbands cause a marital breakdown. No, they tell me, when a husband goes off to another woman's bed, it is OK as long as he continues to support his primary family and their children. I am not surprised when these women tell me this. In Chinese culture marriage had been polygamous meaning a man can have more one wife unlike in western societies where monogamy is practised. Deep within the Chinese psyche is still the acceptance of polygamy as a custom. Although Chinese wives, like all wives anywhere, experience jealousy and unhappiness when theeir husbands go prancing off to other women, they often swallow the bitterness and put up with their husbands' concubines or mistresses. Mu own mother had to do this. She took my father's concubine into our home and we children had to call second mother (yee ma in Cantonese). We were told to show due respect. How many of us can welcome our husband's mistresses into our home? I often wonder about that. Can I? Could I ? Well, until we are put to the test, this is a challenging question. My mother's advice to me was: always kill his mistress with kindness. Hmm old Confucian wisdom which could work. In my mother's case, it did. Second mother felt an obligation to leave my father in the face of my mother's kindness to her.My mother reclaimed my father and lived unhappily after.
Dr Moni Lai Storz
I am a cross cultural consultant, writer and specialist in Chinese and other Asian business cultures. I train and educate people on how to navigate and manage Asian business cultures, and give them the how to's regarding doing business in Asia.