Not only in romantic movies: “Contract of Marriage” currently exists in China.

“Two-way marriage,” also known as the AA system or “Liang tou hun”, is a marriage trend that has recently caused a stir in Chinese public opinion. This trend means that a man and a woman get married not on a love basis. Instead, it’s a kind of cooperation under the ‘label’ of a husband-wife relationship. 

The couple will be certified as husband and wife under this form of “instant-noodle” marriage. However, they live their own lives and spend their own money. 

Before getting married, they sign a contract regulating in detail property-ownership rights and other related obligations or responsibilities. 

Accordingly, neither the husband nor the wife needs to prepare for any dowry as in China’s traditional custom. 

The contract also allows both the husband and wife to freely have any love relationship besides their current spouses. The couple also has to negotiate in advance on whether to have children or not. 

Both the husband and wife have to take care of their own parents without any help from their spouses. 

Even the divorce-related obligations are regulated in the contract before their wedding. Accordingly, the property will largely belong to the woman after the divorce if they have had children. 

Why do Chinese youngsters choose “Two-way marriage”?

Many Chinese youngsters consider “Two-way marriage” an ideal choice under their family and the public’s tremendous pressure to get married. The pressure even gets more intense as they hardly find a suitable partner with a limited money-and-time budget. 

With this type of “instant-noodle” marriage, they can have a “bride” or a “groom” right away through just one agreement. 

This marriage form also allows them to save on wedding and living fees as all expenses are divided equally 50-50. 

In particular, this loveless marriage allows the couple to search for lovers besides their spouses. 

Then, whenever they can find the right one, they just need to complete the divorce procedures with their current spouses and pay the compensation fee according to the contract. 

This cooperative relationship also relieves these couples of responsibilities to the spouses’ parents. Each will take care of their own parents. 

In addition, even after their wedding, each can choose to live with their own parents and visit their own homes during the holidays. 

If these “instant-noodle” couples plan to have children, they often choose to have two. One of the children will take the father’s last name, while the other will take the mother’s.

Whether ‘Two-way marriage’ is ideal as Chinese youngsters perceive it?  

Let’s find out the answer by looking back on China’s history to learn about its traditional marriages!

Husband-wife uprightness in China’s traditional culture: Respecting the promise and completely following the sacred oath

China has long been considered the birthplace of Shenzhou land’s traditional culture of 5000 years. 

This long-lasting culture has been nurtured, preserved, and inherited from generation to generation. 

The Chinese have long considered the husband-wife relationship a highly sacred connection. As a result, marriage has long been honored throughout the history of Chinese culture. 

The ancient Chinese believed marriage originated from predestined conditions in previous lives, and divine gods arranged it. 

Therefore, in traditional culture, men and women significantly attach to marriage vows and promises. 

Even without any witnesses, they steadfastly kept their vows no matter how much time had passed. 

Even when their spouses turn poor, ugly, or disabled, their hearts remain the same. 

China’s history has witnessed several examples of exemplary and profound husband-wife relationships. 

  1. A mandarin decides to get married to a blind village girl as promised

Liu Tingshi was a royal court official in ancient China who lived during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 BC). 

As Tingshi was young, he proposed to a girl in his hometown. Due to his poorness at that time, he could not give the girl’s family any gifts.

When Tingshi passed the scholar’s examination with high scores and became a court official, many noble families wanted him to get married to their daughters. 

However, Tingshi decided to return to his hometown to fulfill his engagement oath. 

As he came back, he learned that the neighbor had died while the daughter was blind from illness. In addition, her family was in very poor financial condition.

Therefore, the neighbor’s family did not expect the daughter to marry a high-ranking official.

In response, Tingshi started preparing for the wedding regardless of their decline.

He insisted, “I promised her father. How can I break my promise just because he has died and his daughter is now blind?” 

They finally got married and had many children. 

  1. A prime minister keeps the oath to his old wife

Yan Ying, prime minister to the state of Qi during the Spring and Autumn period, was famous for loyalty and thriftiness. He was also described as “by far the most creative thinker of the Chunqiu age.”

As a talented and loving-resident minister, Ying often gave wise advice, helping Duke Jing of Qi to rule the country. 

Therefore, Duke Jing wanted Ying to get married to his beloved daughter. 

When Duke Jing saw Ying’s wife at home, he decried her old-and-ugly appearance. At the same time, the king also offered Ying to marry a young and beautiful lady. 

In response, Ying immediately refused, saying,

“My wife is currently old and ugly. However, as she was young and beautiful, we vowed to live together for the rest of our lives. I can not betray my wife’s trust!”

The king then realized Ying’s decisiveness and respect for the husband-and-wife relationship. Therefore, the king never mentioned the matter again. 

  1. A military strategist was faithful to his ugly wife for a lifetime

Zhuge Liang, also known as Kongming, was a Chinese statesman and military strategist. 

As a chancellor and later regent of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period, Zhuge Liang is recognized as the most accomplished strategist of his era. 

Lady Huang, Zhuge Liang’s wife, is an extremely ugly lady. She was even mentioned as one of the ugliest women in China’s history.

However, Zhuge Liang realized and considered her a shining gem behind her ugly appearance. He even appraised her as a hard-to-find soulmate and expressed how lucky he was to have her as his wife. 

Lady Huang was a hard-to-find talent with great virtue. Additionally, she was famous for her gentleness, kindness, and caring family personality.

After their marriage, Lady Huang indeed took a significant role in Zhuge Liang’s career.

She cared for their children, family, and relatives so that Zhuge could wholeheartedly do great things. 

In addition, she made a great contribution to her husband’s illustrious career. 

Accordingly, many of Zhuge Liang’s inventions were created with the help of Lady Huang

  1. Following the sacred oath- Cultural imprints throughout history in traditional Eastern and Western marriage

In fact, both the East and the West have long considered husband-and-wife relationships and families as the basic foundation for forming a civilized society. 

In the East’s tradition, any marriages require the certification of divines, the parent’s approval, and the relatives’ blessings of both sides. 

In the West, people get married in the synagogue, praying to God to witness their oaths and bless their weddings. 

Today, even when the wedding ceremony is not as formal as in the past, reading the couple’s oath is still a ritual at many weddings. 

Therefore, in traditional culture, divorce is considered irresponsible and a betrayal of the sacred vow. 

Marriage in China’s traditional culture: Sacrifice for each other, respect etiquette, restrain personal desires

In traditional Chinese culture, the ancient took “gratitude” as the guideline in marriage. 

This guideline reflects the Chinese ancients’ view on the husband-wife relationship: mutual respect and sacrifice for each other. 

With femininity and warmth, the wife manages the housework and takes care of the parents and children. 

With masculinity and strength, the husband works as the family’s breadwinner and takes care of social work. 

Then, the husband-wife relationship means caring for and supporting each other. 

In ancient times, if a husband became a mandarin, his wife would be the one who kept the seal. The mandarin could be sentenced to death if he loses the seal.

This means the husband puts complete trust in his wife, even entrusting her with his own life. 

Besides “gratitude”, the husband-wife relationship also includes “love”.

The word “love” consists of the word “receive” or “endure” and the word “heart”.

It means that the husbands and wives must accept both their spouses’ good and bad sides. They also have to learn to forgive, tolerate, and sacrifice for each other. 

That love is not ostentatious but hidden inside. It’s like the word “heart” is put in the middle. 

Furthermore, the husband-wife relationship in ancient times was not merely the love between a man and a woman. It must be as close as brothers and sisters. 

Many wives and husbands in Chinese history have become role models thanks to their etiquette in the husband-wife relationship. They always take gratitude as their relationship’s basis.

Therefore, their long love lives, firmly attached and unchanged for a lifetime. 

Tieu Y Tan, a princess in Liao Dynasty, is a typical example of a wife in traditional Chinese marriage: respecting etiquette in husband-wife relationships with enormous sacrifice. 

Once, as sisters-in-law were discussing how to use witchcraft to seduce their husbands, then win their husbands’ love and favor, Tieu Y Tan spoke up and advised them cleverly, 

“Using evil magic is not as good as using etiquette.”

She advised their sisters-in-law to cultivate virtue and etiquette in their sayings and behaviors. 

She also advised them to be respectful, filial, and obedient to their parents-in-law. Use gentleness and harmony to treat their husbands while using leniency and tolerance to treat their subordinates. 

Tieu Y Tan explained that if they could cultivate virtue and etiquette, and adjust their sayings and behaviors as she advised, they would earn their husbands’ love and respect. 

Later, Tieu Y Tan’s husband was slandered and exiled to a foreign land. As a princess of a country, Liao king wanted her to divorce her husband immediately. 

In response, Tieu Y Tan has rejected the request. She explained to her father that,

“As a wife, I must respect the moral principles and suffer the pain with my husband. Even if I die, I will not hold any grudges.”

Then she begged her father to let her go to the exile area with her husband. 

Deeply moved by his daughter’s sincere words, King Lieu agreed with Tieu Y Tan’s request. 

“Two-way marriage”- The modern lifestyle’s consequence or a setback of moral values? 

On the surface, this type of marriage seems “ideal” because it helps Chinese youngsters cut down on several expenses and relieve many life pressure. 

However, this marriage form completely goes against the values of China’s traditional marriage, which was formed, developed, and inherited over thousands of years.

If traditional Chinese marriages treasure promises and oaths, then “Two-way marriage” follows materialism. Accordingly, the value of trust is replaced by materialistic values.

The husband-and-wife relationship is quantified, converted into materialistic benefits, and listed into contract terms. 

In China’s tradition, the spousal relationship is always considered sacred. It originates from the predestined conditions in previous lives, and divine gods arranged it. 

Meanwhile, “Two-way marriage” reflects a lifestyle that believes in atheism. This ideology urges humans to pursue personal desires instead of preserving virtue and upholding moral values in traditional marriages. 

Traditional marriage encourages people to think for others, while the “two-way marriage” urges people to pursue personal benefits with a struggling spirit. 

For example, each will take care of their own parents. If the couple plan to have children, they often choose to have two. One of the children will take the father’s last name, while the other will take the mother’s.

The huge difference between “Two-way marriage” and traditional marriage has resulted in a high divorce rate.

According to Wang Zhaohua, a senior lawyer in Jiangsu, the “Two-way marriage” brings both husband and wife a feeling of more belonging to their own family.

So whenever there is a conflict, they will return to their parents to seek comfort. Then, many problems arise between young couples. 

Wang shared that he handles about 40 divorces each year. Half of the cases relate to “two-way marriage” because biological parents are deeply involved in their children’s marriage. 

In addition, the lifestyle that indulges in personal desires without moral restraint is partly the cause of the record rate of divorce in China. 

According to China Daily’s statistics, China’s divorce rate increased from just 457,900 in 1985 to 4.33 million in 2020. The divorce rate increased more than eight times in nearly four decades.

Official statistics showed that China’s divorce-to-marriage ratio was 50.7% in 2019. The number of divorces has surpassed half the number of weddings.

What is the real reason behind the weird “Two-way marriage” trend?

Historically, the Chinese followed and treasured the Five Constant Virtues, including Kindness, Decorum, Uprightness, Wisdom, and Faithfulness. 

They further believed in cause-and-effect correlations, the existence of heaven, hell, and reincarnation.

Therefore, the Chinese supposed that virtue is the reason behind anyone’s luck and fortune.

However, as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took the ruling of China, this sole-ruling government has long propagated atheism from generation to generation.

The regime destroyed the concept of the Gods in Chinese thinking, making them no longer believe in Gods, traditional values, and social ethics. 

Through the “Four Olds Campaign,” the CCP focuses on destroying China’s four cultural pillars formed over thousands of years, including old ideas, culture, customs, and habits. 

Meanwhile, under the Great Cultural Revolution, the CCP even changed language and writing. As a result, China’s language loses its profound meaning behind every letter. 

For example, in the modern Chinese language, the word “Love” no longer has the word “Heart” in the middle. Instead, the word “Friend” is attached below. 

“Two-way Marriage” is indeed a mutant product of China’s cultural foundation collapse under the CCP’s rule. With the CCP’s indoctrination of atheism, the situation even gets worse. 

However, “Two-way Marriage” is not the only strange trend in China. Chinese youngsters have devised several trends to cope with the miserable life under the CCP’s rule. 

  1. ‘Lying flat’- ‘Let it rot,’ Chinese youth’s attitude to cope with China’s uncertainties

“Lying Flat,” or “tang ping,” in Chinese, doesn’t mean not working at all but working less. 

After “Lying Flat,” the Chinese youth has adopted a new buzzword to express their attitude toward life. It’s ‘bai lan’, which means ‘let it rot’ in English.

‘Let it rot’ means voluntarily giving up pursuing certain goals, realizing that they are simply unattainable.

The two trends emerged under the context that China failed to make the virus disappear from its soil after two-year of fighting hard against COVID-19. 

These trends reflect Chinese youngsters’ hopelessness and despair as they have to cope with the fierce competitiveness in China’s job market under tremendous pressure from their families. 

Under the CCP’s ruling, stringent lockdowns and other extreme anti-pandemic measures have taken a whack at the country’s economy. 

Companies became unstable, leading to massive layoffs and the state’s crackdown on the private sector.

According to Bloomberg’s report in July, China’s unemployment rate among 16-to-24-year-olds hit 19.3%. It means that 15 million young Chinese are jobless. The problem worsened as summer ended, and some 12 million graduates joined the job market.

  1. ‘We are the last generation’: Chinese residents’ desperate cry amid pandemic

In May, a group of epidemic-prevention workers forced a couple to quarantine camp due to their close contact with the infected case.

The couple had a heated argument with the staff and declined the staff’s compulsory quarantine request. They said that the request goes against the official regulations. 

In response, one of the staff members threatened to impose administrative penalties if they declined the quarantine request. The staff added that the punishments would last for three generations of the family.

The husband responded immediately, in his words, “This is our last generation, thank you!”

Shortly later, The video and its related posts widely circulated on the internet, becoming a phenomenon. However, they were also censored immediately. Weibo also censors the keywords’ Last generation.’

In response, Chinese netizens have turned the text into picture format to avoid censorship and kept spreading the message. 

According to Zhang Xuezhong, a Chinese law professor and a book author, the husband’s response expresses the most profound despair of a young resident. He has decided not to generate the next generation because there is no worth-looking-forward future ahead for them.  

The law professor supposes that the sentence is the most potent indictment a resident can make against the Chinese regime. 

Under the CCP’s leadership, several generations in China have suffered from different repressive campaigns, including the Four Old Things and The Cultural Revolution

Currently, the new generation continues to fall victim to the oppression and life pressure under the CCP’s extreme policies. 

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