Chinese Couples Get Poorer After Marriage

  • Many couples see their life quality worsening after the marriage.
  • The younger generation are less willing to get married.
  • The government has set a 30-day cooling off period to alleviate divorce rate.

Recently, a new opinion thread opened on Douban, a Chinese social website where people discuss anything: “How much does a wedding cost? My boyfriend and I are getting married as soon as we’ve saved enough money.” The answers, however, are a bit intimidating.

Even people from small cities or towns claim that a wedding could easily cost them over $30,000, three times the annual GDP per capita in China. Are Doubaners being extravagant or is that the reality nowadays?

A TV show talking about the financial pressure of getting married in China.

A study by Hunliji, one of the largest wedding planners in China, shows that in 2019, the average wedding expenditure reached $34,000, 3.5 times more than five years ago.

The pressure is usually on the groom’s side. In China, it’s conventional for the groom’s family to pay for the wedding banquet, and to give some money to the bride’s parents called Pinli, which usually costs more than the banquet. It’s also not rare to require the groom to have a house and a car, considered common properties of the couple even if the bride doesn’t pay for them.

Chinese weddings usually have lots of invites.

As real estate prices skyrocket all over China over the last decade, it’s becoming harder and harder to meet these requirements, even if just the first installments. Many families have to borrow money to get their sons married, a debt that the future couple will need to pay back over the years. No one ever thinks they will become poorer because of getting married when they’re just beginning a relationship.

“I used to be obsessed with all kinds of cultural activities. I went to watch movies at least twice a week. After getting married, even once a month is too luxurious,” Guo complained in the thread. The roles of being a daughter, wife and daughter-in-law fell on her at the same time. No cushioning time, no psychological preparation, her husband’s and her savings disappeared in the mortgage, house decorations, furniture, paying medical bills for her mother-in-law etc. Gone was the simple time when she only needed to worry about her own stomach.

Marriage certificate.

Unlike Guo, Zhang quit her job to become a housewife after the marriage, because her salary couldn’t pay for a nanny. Analysts say even though nowadays females are more independent in China, when they’re married, constraints like giving birth and social pressure would still gradually force them into the old sacrificing mode. Zhang’s getting divorced.

The study by Hunliji also states that over 72% of new couples are not satisfied with their weddings. On Zhihu, more young people are expressing their unwillingness to get married. “It’s a party that we prepare for a long time for others. Our life just gets worse off after it.”

To maintain or to destroy a marriage, money always plays an important role. Besides love and romance, it’s full of financial considerations. The Chinese government has recently set a 30-day “calming period” for divorce applications, as if that will change the situation.

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Just another attempt to show a more real China.

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