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Chinese men find wedding rings cumbersome?

(Global Times)

13:42, November 13, 2012

(File Photo)

Q: Dear Auntie Wang:

I'm a young woman and my male Chinese boss keeps suggesting I go out for dinner or a drink with him. I was initially a little flattered, but then a co-worker told me he was married. I was shocked because he doesn't wear a wedding ring, nor really act like a married man. He recently asked me out for dinner again, but I told him that I did not think his wife would approve. He scoffed that he was an MBA and told me I was being uptight. Why do married Chinese men seldom wear wedding rings and is there a sense of entitlement linked to one's Master of Business Administration?

A: Some Chinese men find wedding rings cumbersome. To understand why, you need to look at our history.

Traditionally, successful Chinese men were not limited to one wife. Furthermore, the role of a concubine was so formal that a wedding-like ceremony was held to welcome new lovers into a master's household.

More money and power meant more lovers; one only needs to look at the position of emperor as a prime example. Imperial rulers had countless concubines at their service.

Nowadays, polygamy might be illegal and adultery taboo, but the custom of having multiple young lovers is seen in some circles as necessary to maintain face.

Modern wives are inclined to pretend they don't notice such indiscretions, partly due to the theory that all men are the same; leaving one cheater only to elope with another is pointless, or so the logic goes.

Chinese marriages tend to have a socio-economic foundation, rather than a romantic one.

A beautiful young woman from a modest background, for example, might consent to marrying an older, unattractive man because he has several apartments and a high salary.

It is easy to understand how a wife might feel indifferent, even relieved, if she discovers her husband is no longer badgering her to meet his needs.

Similarly, many wives crave some excitement and passion in their lives since they married for non-romantic reasons, such as financial security.

Both men and women in many cases will have had limited or no sexual experience before they married, so it's only natural some might want to experiment with other partners.

Many married Chinese couples assume that their relationship will not be exclusive, even though they might not be happy about this.

Wedding rings are foreign ornaments that don't come naturally to Chinese men, but it's worth remembering that there will always be powerful men all over the world who stray; it's hardly a phenomenon unique to China.

To answer your other question, your boss was not referring to his business degree when he said he had an MBA. He was simply informing you he was "married, but available."

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