Chinese Church Voices

Encouragement for Those Contemplating Post-Virus Divorce

Chinese Church Voices is an occasional column of the ChinaSource Blog providing translations of original writing by Christians in China. The views represented are entirely those of the original author; inclusion in Chinese Church Voices does not imply or equal an endorsement by ChinaSource.

China has seen an increase in divorces following the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article from Green Olive Books, the author describes why some of these marriage problems occur, and gives marriage counsel for couples.

Divorce Appointments at Civil Affairs Bureaus Booked Full!

I urge you not to be in a hurry to divorce after the epidemic. “It makes no difference who you’re with” is the real truth of marriage.

Though we still can't see the end to this epidemic, marriage is already facing threats on every side. Many cities have seen “a wave of divorce.” Some couples are already on a path toward divorce, crying out, “If the epidemic doesn’t end soon, I’ll want a divorce!”

In recent days, the news has drawn wide attention to the Xi’an Marriage Registry being fully booked every day with divorce appointments. People are not at all surprised at this, rather they can empathize—the trials of the epidemic are not just the virus, but also trials in marriage.

The Hua Shuang Daily reports that on March 5, Xi’an Beilin District Marriage Registry had 14 divorce bookings, which reached the upper limits of that day’s divorce bookings. Staff member Ms. Wang said:

Divorce bookings were full on March 4 and March 5, as well. In the past, after Chinese New Year and after the college entrance exams, there would be yearly peaks in the divorce rate. In 2020, because of the epidemic, many couples were at home for an entire month, which gave rise to more conflicts. Also, because the divorce office was closed for a couple of months during the epidemic and thus unable to process all the divorce cases, the number of people getting a divorce has risen sharply these days after the office reopened.

On social media platforms a discussion began along the topics of, “After the epidemic, what I want most is to. . .”

Many people answered like this:

After the epidemic—divorce!

End the marriage that has existed only in name for too long.

Divorce after the epidemic. If I don’t, I will just take good care of myself.

The real nature of a person is most easily revealed by living together day and night over a long period of time. Only when we draw close so intimately to someone do we find ourselves hurt by their ugliness beyond what we can bear.

The cruel reality in marriage is that it makes no difference who we’re with.

A reporter interviewed an old couple known for their love for each other.

The reporter asked them, “You have been so loving to each other over decades. What is your secret?”

“To be patient,” they answered.

“What if it’s beyond your patience?”

“Even when it’s beyond your patience, you still have to be patient!”

Even the happiest marriages must experience trials. Love is patient.

The couple Liu Zhixiong and Wang Aijun are well known as a loving couple. But in their book Holding Hands for a Lifetime they describe the shocking pain of marriage.

Liu Zhixiong said:

I was angry. I was angry that she was angry at me. I am so good to you. I never beat you. Never yell at you. I don’t have other women out there. I give you my every penny, and listen to you when I get home. What more do you want? What more do you expect? I really thought that I was pretty good. But she was even more sad, and cried even more.

Wang Aijun also sighed:

So many times my heart had grown extremely cold and disappointed. I paced back and forth, again and again, by the Love River of Kaohsiung City, and several times I thought of jumping in.

Another couple, Lin Weiqian and Jiang Peirong, also described their story of blood and tears in their book Extreme Marriage. From loving each other deeply to hurting each other deeply, they went through separation, and even thought about divorce. Only after 30 years of battling through the difficulties of marriage, have they become the loving husband and wife today.

When you seek with all your might and yet cannot find the person you love, you will despair. When you enter the wedding chapel with the person you love, you will despair even more.

In courtship, one is attracted by a person’s strengths. But in marriage one has to live with a person’s weaknesses.

As an ancient saying goes, all men are not sages, and who can be without flaws? The Bible says that all are sinners. When we are born human, who among us does not have selfishness and darkness within our hearts? When two different people come together, that means that they lay open their own darkness for the other person to see. How can this process be spared of pain?

In marriage, the cruelest truth is that it makes no difference who you are with! We must all walk through deep valleys of weeping before arriving at the land of abundance.

People’s feelings are often flimsy and unstable. To sustain a marriage by feelings of love is clearly dangerous. “I love you” is the greatest lie when dating, and no longer being in love is the greatest lie in marriage.

Madame Bovary is a novel written by Gustave Flaubert, the 19th century French author of literary realism, and it contains very deep reflections on marriage and love. The main character Emma is a peasant girl who received an upper-class education, but married the plain and practical village doctor Bovary. She yearns for a passionate romance, and is driven mad by her plain life and unromantic husband. For the “romance” she desires, she continually has affairs, but finds that after each brief romance, her lovers cannot give her happiness. In the end, her debts pile up, and she commits suicide by poison. In face of such dangers, not one of her lovers offered help. Only her plain and homely husband did not give up on her.

The world fantasizes about romance too much while it demonizes marriage. Often times, the person beside you is so full of flaws, yet he loves you more than you could imagine. Perhaps he does not know how to listen to your thoughts, or how to take care of the family, but in the face of life and death, perhaps only he is willing to remain beside you, like Mr. Bovary.

In marriage, the most beautiful words of love are not “I love you so much,” but “I am willing to be patient with you.” Romance is never able to preserve marriage, only marriage is able to preserve romance.

There is no right person, but only the person who does right.

A girl once complained to me, saying that her husband does not love her, does not remember her birthday or their wedding anniversary, does not know how to woo her with sweet talk, and does not know how to comfort a wounded wife.

I told her that, actually, my husband was the same way.

She did not quite believe me. “Impossible! I see how happy you are every day.”

Laughing, I told her:

A woman is not a man’s pet—happy when he is good to you, and utterly depressed when he is not. I will not allow an imperfect man to turn me into a bitter wife. Instead, I will learn patience and sacrifice because of this man’s imperfection. Then at least I will become a better person. Man is not God. No man can give a woman happiness.

Then I asked the girl, “How do you want him to treat you?”

She rattled off a long list.

When she was finished, I asked, “Is this how you treat him?”

She was immediately silent.

In Extreme Marriage, Lin Weiqian wrote:

At every wedding, the husband and wife both commit themselves in their wedding vows to living together in marriage, in sickness or health, rich or poor,  beautiful or plain, for better, for worse, committing to love, comfort, respect, protect each other,  always loyal and consistent throughout this life. Have you noticed that this commitment does not have an expiration date? It also does not say that I do not have to love the other person when I no longer have feelings for them. And it definitely does not say that we do not have to live out the wedding vows when the other has lost their job, experienced a car crash, become disabled, sick, grow old, or grow ugly. But many people do this, leaving without a backward glance once the other has lost their value. But the paradoxical thing is that when we allow ourselves to do so, but we expect the other to treat us with true love. This is an unrealistic expectation.

Everyone looks for a lover with faithful heart, who will not leave them even when their hair turns grey. But no one is willing to be that person.

One time my husband made me very angry, and I listed out all his wrongs. Helplessly he said, “Since I am so terrible, do you want to find a different husband?”

I realized my own problem, and shook my head laughingly. “You think I don’t want to? But what can I do? You are already the best man on earth!” And my husband laughed with me.

I did not say this merely to please my husband. I truly think that he is the best man on earth. This is not because of how perfect he is, but because he is the one who once made a vow with me to spend our entire lives together.

Among thousands and millions of people, this is the man that God has allowed to receive the blessings of life with me. Because of this alone, I am confident that he is always the best.

We will always find countless reasons for divorce. But if we are to persevere, a single, unchangeable vow is enough!

Marriage was never the place to enjoy love. It is the place to cultivate love. Love needs to be watered by countless years, often placed in the sunlight of divine love, and the old self must be weeded away, while love is protected with self-denial and sacrifice. Then, love will quietly begin to bloom.

Sacrificing for marriage is like weight-lifting training, only after training for a long time can you reach the goal you set in the very beginning. In the beginning of training, it might be utterly impossible for me to lift the goal weight. And to keep trying would only leave me discouraged, and perhaps even seriously injured. The proper method is to begin practicing with lighter weights, then slowly increase the difficulty, bit by bit. Over months and years, I will find that my ability to bear weight becomes stronger and stronger, and the weights I can lift are far greater than I had imagined. If you are willing to take the first step, to begin with little things, to actively sacrifice for your husband, I believe that within a few years, you will realize with surprise that you no longer hold on to what your husband owes you, because your heart has become much more open, and your mind much more strengthened. As for your husband, it is likely that the same changes have happened to him as well.

—Jiang Peirong

The winner in marriage is never the one who takes the most, but the one who gives the most. Relying on the avowed love, this sacrifice is cheerfully offered, without grievance or complaint. It does not stop because of the other person’s brokenness, and does not give up even when there is no reward.

The most stable marriage is one where I bare my most ugly self, without fear of you giving up on me; where I have seen your worst, and do not give up on you.

In a painful marriage, he can always make you cry. In a happy marriage, you can always make him laugh.

There is no right person, but only the person who does right!

Original Article: 民政局预约离婚的人爆满!疫情后,劝你别着急离婚,“跟谁过都一样”才是婚姻的真相 by 北京青橄榄文化 (WeChat ID: greenolivebooks)

Image credit: Jaddy Liu on Unsplash.
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