Feature: Marry in haste, repent at leisure -- Vietnam's changing marital dynamics

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-05 00:30:44|Editor: yan
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HO CHI MINH CITY, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- "They fall in love in the morning, get married at noon, and file for divorce in the afternoon," a judge in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City said figuratively about the current "marry in haste, repent at leisure" phenomenon among younger Vietnamese.

The judge said recently that among young couples requesting divorce, many tied the knot after several months of wooing each other online, mainly through social media networks such as Facebook and Zalo using their smartphones, and then meeting offline.

"Becoming husbands or wives, even parents at a young age, they often lack the life skills of sharing, restraining their ego, and making concessions or adjustments," the veteran judge said.

"In addition, younger people often think that they are now equal and financially independent, so they easily file for divorce after feeling that they can't stand the differences of a new environment, lifestyle, personalities, hobbies and habits," said the judge.

According to many local psychologists and sociologists, Vietnam's shift from a centrally planned to a market economy has transformed the country from one of the poorest in the world into a lower middle-income country with rapid industrialization and modernization and deep international integration, which has not only improved local people's living standards but also changed their perception of marriage and divorce.

In the past, couples tended to keep their marriage alive as long as possible, trying to avoid divorce, because many wives were financially dependent on their husbands, and public opinion frowned on divorce, with society looking down on divorced people and their children.

A lot of Vietnamese people nowadays, however, believe that increased financial independence and a more liberal view of divorce has helped couples, especially women, escape unhappy marriages after a short time of living under the same roof.

According to surveys by Vietnamese sociologists and statistics from courts, there have been increasingly larger numbers of couples aged below 35 years old in Ho Chi Minh City filing for divorce, and the rate currently stands at around 30 percent of couples of all ages.

The situation is the same in many other cities and provinces across Vietnam.

According to statistics from the Ben Tre People's Court, southern Ben Tre province handled 1,275 cases of divorce in 2007, and 4,737 cases in 2017, surging more than 3.7 times in 10 years. Of the total cases, 1,389 couples, or 29.3 percent, were aged between 18 and 30.

According to statistics from courts in Ninh Binh, in the 2012-2017 period, this northern province had 5,983 cases of divorce with the number of cases increasingly annually. The number of divorces in 2017 had nearly doubled those in 2012.

Among all couples filing for divorce, more than 50 percent were aged 18 to 38. Surprisingly, more wives, generally thought to be resigned to failed marriages, filed for divorce than husbands did.

Specifically, among all the 5,983 cases in Ninh Binh, 4,064 or 67.9 percent, of divorces were filed by wives.

In the past, most people regarded love and subsequent marriage as one of, if not the most serious issues in their life. Hence, they used to get to know each other very well before deciding to live together for the rest of their life. They also used to consider carefully many serious obligations such as taking care of their parents and bringing up their children.

Previously, it was not uncommon for people to spend between three and five years getting to know each other before committing themselves to marriage.

But nowadays, being more affluent and having a more liberal view of individual freedom and life, more and more people, especially younger people are finding it easier to love, marry and divorce, instead of clinging to traditional family values.

"I'm pretty, young and rich. Why do I have to shoulder the responsibility of an irresponsible husband and his strict parents until I become old and ugly," a bank clerk told Xinhua recently.

Many young people are quick to marry and equally quick to divorce, Pham Manh Ha, a local associate professor and doctor of psychology, said, adding that many appreciate money and status more than moral criteria like honesty or faithfulness like their parents did in the past.

As her university graduation approached, Hong surprised everyone when she married Quan, a man she had known for only three months.

Their ostentatious wedding was widely admired. Hong was regarded as one of the most attractive students at her university in Ho Chi Minh City, while Quan was a successful lawyer. However, two years later, the couple got divorced.

"During our courtship, he was romantic and considerate, willing to rush to a faraway pharmacy to buy medication and bring them to me right after hearing my coughing on the phone. But after marriage, he wasn't as amorous, and stayed in his office more than in our home, just telling me on the phone to take a taxi to hospital after hearing I had twisted my ankle," Hong said about her ex-husband.

According to doctor of psychology Nguyen Hoang Khac Hieu from Ho Chi Minh City University of Pedagogy, there are three major reasons for divorce.

These are couples spending little time getting to know each other before marriage and becoming disillusioned after living under the same roof, focusing too much on work and not on family life, and lacking cohabitation skills such as money management and child rearing.

Other local psychologists and sociologists said there are four key factors leading to divorce, namely conflicts in lifestyle, extramarital affairs, financial issues and domestic violence.

"Today, people are more self-centered. Among young couples, no one is willing to make concessions, and this leads to differences and divorce," stated psychologist Nguyen Ha Thanh.

In addition, increased financial independence and more chances to connect with old friends and make new ones, thanks to the proliferation of smart devices and online applications, has partly led to increasing instances of extramarital affairs, a common ground for divorce, the psychologist highlighted.