Chinese writer Lu Guoping suggested on a Chinese social media website that marriage licenses should only be issued for seven years at a time. According to Lu, most couples cannot get through the “seven year itch”. The suggestion has marriage proponents in China outraged.
Lu explained, “If a certificate is only valid for seven years, you can renew it afterwards, or it will automatically expire. In that case, every person has at least five opportunities to get married and you don’t need to worry about marrying the wrong person.”
Lu’s comments were later removed. In China, divorce rates have been rising for several years.
According to Lu, there are several advantages to making marriages last only seven years. People would be encouraged to experiment with more relationships and reduce the number of affairs. He also says that the move would improve the Chinese economy and give women more financial independence. Additionally, it would supposedly reduce divorce rates and improve child care.
It wasn’t long before Lu’s seemingly radical ideas spread throughout China. Thousands of internet users have debated on the topic, with many being highly critical of Lu and his ideas. Many stated that such an initiative would reduce the sacredness of marriage and make it comparable to signing an apartment lease or a labor contract. Others said that it would essentially be an excuse to have an affair.
Family law expert Lu Mingsheng said that a time limit on marriages would not be necessary. This is because couples can already file for divorce at any time under the protection of the law.
“A time limit would reduce people’s sense of responsibility to their families,” he explained.
Family lawyer Wei Shaoling said that the proposal was against the freedom of marriage and that setting such a time limit could result in a greater number of social problems.
This did not stop Lu from defending his ideas.
“A validation period could provide warnings to married couples: marriage is neither the grave of love nor the end of romance,” he said.
Last year, more than 3.6 million couples filed for divorce in China. This was a 3.9% increase over 2013.