China’s Post-80s Generation Are “Divorce Fanatics”

Sep 06, 2010
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For China’s 20somethings (a.k.a. “Little Emperors”), getting divorced has become a common part of growing up.

Still remember the “marriage fanatic” played by Rene Liu in the drama serial “Pink Ladies”, and the many jokes she sparked because of her desperation to get married? The post-‘80s generation, in contrast, has produced many “divorce fanatics”, each one with his or her vicissitudes.

Someone said: for the post-80s*, if you’re not already divorced, then you’re probably on your way there… We are increasingly surrounded by post-80s divorcees, or by those who have expressed their wish to divorce.

Some of the post-80s were “made to marry”. Some had obeyed their parents and attended matchmaking sessions – once a good match was found, a date for the wedding was automatically set. Then there were others who, in the newly liberated times, engaged in pre-marital sex, and then got married out of responsibility to their girlfriends. Such is the generation who were “made to marry”.

Other post-80s “chose to marry”. Out of wanting to give “love” a home, they rushed into marriage. In such “lightning” marriages, couples discovered the negative sides of each other only after the wedding, or that both were not suited to live together. And so they separate. Such is the generation who engaged in lightning-style marriages.


A Chinese marriage is no longer made for eternity

A Chinese marriage is no longer made for eternity.


The collapse of the post-80s marriage is often due to minor issues.

Such as, “Who will do the housework?” If this question were asked in the 1950s or ‘60s, the answer is clear: of course it’s the woman who does the housework. Women in the ‘50s and ‘60s mostly didn’t have employment, and stayed at home to take care of their husbands and children. But nowadays the position of women has risen. Both men and women now have jobs. Married women now have to assume both the responsibility of an employee, as well as the role of a “nanny”. That’s an immense challenge. And it doesn’t help if the husband does not help out with the housework, and instead acts like a male chauvinist – putting up his feet, and reading the newspapers or watching TV. Such a marriage will be in danger. Don’t underestimate this problem – a colleague of mine divorced her husband for exactly this reason: he did not help out with the household chores.

A colleague of mine divorced her husband for exactly this reason: he did not help out with the household chores.

So, to all those post-80s men who are about to get married or are already married, please pay attention: times have changed; you can no longer follow the example of your father and say, “Housework is a woman’s domain”. That will really infuriate the modern-day woman who earns a salary like you do.

Another issue: “Whose surname will our child take?” The majority of the post-80s are single children. Marriage between single children can be demanding. With whose family will the young couple spend Chinese New Year’s Eve? Whose surname will the child take? At whose family will the mother rest during her confinement** period? Which grandparents will help take care of the child? Because of these issues, many single children have headed for the road to divorce.

The post-80s are a symbol of China’s economic reform and opening up to the world. They have a highly receptive attitude towards new things, including sex. One might ask, but as a married person, would one still adopt a liberal stance towards sexual relations? The post-80s resent the restrictions that marriage places upon them in terms of their “right” to “love”, and will sacrifice everything for “love”. That’s to say, that if a marriage is no longer satisfying and “love” comes along, marriage will then have to make way for love.

For the post-80s “divorce fanatics”, divorce is a price for growing up. There will come a day when these post-80s will understand the true meaning of marriage, and learn to treasure it.


*The Post-80s (also the Post-1980) refers to the generation whose members were born between 1980 and 1989 in cities of Mainland China. Members of the Post-80s may have Little Emperor Syndrome due to the PRC's one-child policy.

** Post-natal confinement period refers to a traditionally Chinese practice where new mothers observe various routines fairly diverse from regular day-to-day living for a period ranging from one week to before the baby’s first-month celebration.


This post was originally published on QQ in August 2010. The above is an excerpt translated by a staff writer.