Mate Selection in Today’s China

ChineseMarriageThe institutional marriage has forever been alive and well in China, where parents select the bride or groom for their adult child, with romance being of little or no concern in the selection process. The parents instead consider totally practical items such as age, education level and earning power, and, according to Shan Shan Dong and Julia Zhou in a February the fourteenth NBC News article, the physical height of a potential mate. However, the companionate marriage seems to be the wave of the future even in conservative, traditional China where conformity, obedience and responsibility have always been the major cultural norms.

Like other cultures around the globe being influenced by Western ideals of love, romance and the freedom of the individual to choose his or her own marital mate, even China is not immune.

It’s not that the factors so important to the parents are unimportant to the children. It’s just that their emphases are on communication, having fun, romance, waiting for God’s leadership and not at all being in a hurry to end singlehood and become married.

Also, as in America, the age at first marriage has been increasing rapidly as of late, as people are spending more years living the independent young adult lifestyle, influenced more by peers than by parents or the old ways of doing things in general. This is especially true in the large urban areas such as Shanghai.

This is a good example of how American and Western thinking in general is having a profound impact globally on the lifestyles of ancient societies. It could also be seen as what just naturally happens when there’s now freedom in a society for young people to seek opportunity, education, jobs brought on by industrialization and technology and freedom to be interacting with and influenced by peers, while spending much less time with parents and the older generation. When liberty begins to permeate a traditional society, people just naturally use the opportunity to avail themselves of the new freedoms available to them.

The older people are when liberty comes their way, the fewer decisions can be influenced by this freedom since so much of life has already been set. The young people growing up with such freedoms give themselves the right to choose individually what to do with all the various choices in life, most obviously in the choices involved in dating and marriage.