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Lightning marriage – a flash in the pan?
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08:35, August 27, 2009

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At the young age of 21, Liu Yue (not her real name) became a divorcee. She and her then husband Liu Wei were only married for six months after they met on the Internet in October 2003.

“We fell in love with each other quickly and chatted everyday since then,” she recalled, then a college student. “We finally met face-to-face in March 2004 and began to date.”

They were living in Tianjin municipality at the time and in early 2005 the local government decided to demolish houses in her neighborhood. The policy said that if there were two or more couples in a family, in other words, an extended family, they were qualified to apply for two apartments.

“I decided to have a “lightning marriage” to Liu so we could qualify for two homes,” she said, now 25.

They tied the knot in March 2005 at a registry and did not host a lavish wedding banquet. However, soon afterward, their happy life changed. “We rented a home and lived together. Maybe we got married too quickly to understand each other fully,” she said in hindsight.

Six months later they divorced.

“We don't fit each other, including our families,” Liu added. “My ex-in-laws live in a rural area and his parents are quite conservative. For instance, they asked us to go back home frequently and hoped we would have a baby. But we were still young and wanted to enjoy life without burdens.”

“Also, he didn't know how to take care of me and always listened to his mother. I cannot bear a man who can't make up his own mind,” she said.

However, her ex-husband blames their marital troubles more on their relationship.
“I think the failure of our marriage was due to not fully understanding each other,” he said. “We were born in the 1980s and were spoiled by our parents. As a result we couldn't reach a compromise. We encountered a lot of contradictions when we lived together. Our parents couldn't get along either. Divorce was the only way to go.”

(Global Times Photo)

Both say they will not get married again anytime soon after the experience they have gone through.

There is another tale of woe, this time involving money.

Liu Yanli is from a wealthy family, they own a construction firm. Through a blind date she met Zhang Zhi (not his real name), who worked for a Japanese car company.

“We met in February 2003 and got married in August the same year,” she recalled, now 27. “It was definitely a rushed decision. Because he didn't make much money and his family was not rich, they didn't have enough money to pay for the wedding ceremony and buy the necessary things. So my parents bought a home and a car for us, but put the ownership under my younger brother's name. Zhang was unhappy about this.”

He was resentful of what his in-laws did and kept asking her parents to transfer ownership to his wife.

“As a couple, we should share everything,” he told the Global Times. “What her parents did humiliated me.”

Both Liu and Zhang said they often had arguments over this and finally she decided to end the marriage after six months. He ended up empty-handed.

However, they are not alone.

Last year, more than 10 million couples registered to get married, 10.8 percent more than 2007, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs. About 73 percent of those marriages were people under 30.

In 2008, 2.26 million people divorced, an 8.1 percent increase from the year before. In Beijing, one in five of the 24,952 couples that divorced were married for less than three years and 52 couples split up after being married for less than a month.

Marriage counselor Julie Zhu from Juedui 100 sees many of these young couples who turn to her as a last resort to save their marriages.

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