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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion
Rising bride price spoils marriage
    2017-June-19  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Wu Guangqiang

jw368@163.com

SADLY, marriage has been reduced to a commodity with an obvious price tag in today’s China. True and pure love may still exist, but it is as rare as hen’s teeth.

Sometimes I wonder if accumulated wealth is the killer of pure-love-based marriage. In times of severe material shortages in my childhood and youth, most marriages were simple and beautiful. Two young people in love simply expressed love to each other and tied the knot when they thought they would be happy for the rest of their lives together.

A wedding was more of a token of the beginning of a new life than a display of the couple’s wealth, status or fame. The public despised flaunting and comparisons of fortune, even though fortunes were much smaller in that era of deprivation.

The weddings of all my siblings comprised of a bigger-than-usual dinner at home, nothing more. Put in a catchphrase for that time, weddings meant putting two beds together.

My own wedding, which was in 1982, was even simpler. On my wedding day, my father-in-law walked his daughter, my bride, to my parents’ home, where we had a room as our love nest. He drank a cup of green tea with my father, wished us well and left. Without wedding rings, a wedding dress or even a wedding banquet, we marked our new life by spending our honeymoon in Shanghai and Qingdao.

Gone are these simple, yet romantic and beautiful weddings. Nowadays, marriages are getting increasingly materialistic rather than spiritual in China. The cost of a marriage has been on a steady rise over the years and more and more young people who lack deep pockets have been virtually deprived of the right to get married.

The costs vary from place to place. In large cities, they come mainly in the forms of housing, car and bank savings, the more the merrier. The ownership of a dwelling is the prerequisite for a groom to embrace his bride in cities.

In rural areas and many towns and small cities, the bride price is the main cost of a marriage. Before a marriage is approved by the parents, a certain sum of cash must be paid by the prospective groom to the family of the bride.

Bride price has been around in China for thousands of years, also known as betrothal gifts or a bride token, or dowry if given by the bride’s family to the groom’s.

The practice was reasonable for its existence in ancient dynasties as a link in the feudal social system, whose stability largely relied on an orderly and rigid social hierarchy.

Though China’s marriage law prohibits such practices as arranged or mercenary marriages and the use of marriage for collecting money, bride price has never been uprooted and it is getting more expensive day by day with the rising living standards of people.

Working in the wedding industry in Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang Province, one of my nieces told me the current “market prices” for bride price in and around Hangzhou.

The minimum sum for a bride price is 80,000 yuan (US$11,613) in Hangzhou. In many nearby affluent cities, the amount can be much larger. The starting price for each table of a wedding banquet is 5,800 yuan. In addition, an elaborate wedding ceremony is indispensable, which serves as a means to add honor to the newlyweds and their families. A classmate of my son’s flew dozens of relatives and friends to a seaside resort in Hainan Province to celebrate his wedding, including my son as one of the groomsmen. The wedding cost at least 1 million yuan.

The embarrassing reality is that as a handful of the rich race to keep up with the Joneses, many of the not-so-rich have been left in a bind — the skyrocketing costs of a wedding are killing their dreams of getting married.

For a nation where most people are no better off than making ends meet, the burden of a bride price has become unbearable for not only some 400 million farmers and 280 million migrant workers, but for urban citizens as well.

Moreover, it’s highly questionable how a money-stained marriage, even though it may have stemmed from true love, can sustain itself and prosper.

The rising divorce rate has said it all.

(The author is an English tutor and freelance writer.)

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Shenzhen Daily E-mail:szdaily@szszd.com.cn