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October 16, 2015

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Costly way to send the ‘other woman’ packing

MANY women get hysterical if they discover their husbands are having affairs. Yet in ancient China, and to some extent even today, it’s not unusual for men of wealth and power to take mistresses in a somewhat socially acceptable way.

A commercial service called Weiqing, or literally “maintaining love,” now offers to help women thwart potential “home-wreckers.” But it’s a costly and somewhat contentious process.

The company has branches in 50 Chinese cities and employs 2,000 counselors. It’s core activity involves staff called “home-wrecker blockers.”

Weiqing has been around for some 15 years, but it’s only of late that it has been soliciting media attention, becoming a hot topic on social online platforms.

The service doesn’t come cheap. It costs at least 200,000 yuan (US$31,460). About 90 percent of clients, aged between 40 and 50, are the wives of rich, unfaithful husbands. In some cases, both husband and wife come to the company seeking help in eliminating a mistress.

“The husbands are often successful businessmen, running companies with assets of billions of yuan,” said Ming Li, a marriage counselor and team leader of the so-called “home-wrecker blockers.”

Ming has been a marriage counselor for about 15 years. Most of the cases she has handled involved extramarital affairs.

Saving marriages

“In the early years, 80 percent of heartbroken wives wanted divorces, but in recent years, more women are choosing to try to save their marriages and fight the ‘other woman’ in hopes of winning their husbands back,” she said.

About 80 percent of the “blockers,” aged between 35 and 55, are female.

“Women often make the best blockers because they are more warm-hearted and persuasive,” Ming told Shanghai Daily.

There are, of course, all sorts of mistresses. Some are in it only for the money. Others are truly in love. And some just indulge in love nests for the lark of it. At the same time, some husbands are habitual philanderers, and getting rid of one mistress doesn’t guarantee that a replacement won’t be found.

The program dispatches the “blockers” to befriend the mistress by posing as a neighbor, colleague, client, babysitter or housekeeper. They then try to cajole her into withdrawing from the scene. Often, hefty payments do most of the convincing.

The process of befriending mistresses can involve luxury gifts, expensive accommodation and elaborate dining out.

“Only in this way can our blockers make friends with mistresses, win their trust and be accepted into their social circles,” Ming said.

One mistress ran up more than 2 million yuan on her credit card in fancy restaurants within a year. A “home-wrecker blocker” once had to send luxury underwear that cost 10,000 yuan to another mistress as a gift. Another had to spend 100,000 yuan to rent an apartment for five months in an exclusive compound where a mistress lived in Beijing.

Each “blocker” is required to have at least five years’ experience in psychological counseling. Each has to be 35 years or older and married for at least five years.

“The job requirements are strict and clear,” said Shu Xin, director of Weiqing. “A ‘blocker’ must support monogamy in marriage, protect a mistress’s privacy and obey the laws. We don’t resort to insults, threats, intimidation or stalking. And we have one rule for male blockers: don’t fall in love with the mistress.”

High costs

Fees for this service usually range between 200,000 yuan and 500,000 yuan. It can take six months to a year to resolve one case. Wives normally pay the fees from “pocket money” given to them by husbands. In most cases, husbands aren’t aware of the subterfuge going on behind their backs.

Shu said the most expensive case he ever handled involved a wife who finally drove her husband’s mistress away by sending her abroad and paying her 8 million yuan.

In another example, a “blocker” had to find a job for the mistress in order to get her to leave Shanghai. A year’s salary was secretly paid to the employer.

And in another case, the “blockers” had to track down an ex-mistress in another city and convince her to abort the love child she was carrying.

The successful rate of the program, Shu said, is about 98 percent. But he didn’t specify how many cases the program has handled.

“We select the cases carefully,” he said. “If the marriage really appears incompatible and irreconcilable, we usually advise divorce.”

How do they know if the case is really solved?

“We get a contract signed by the mistress, agreeing to disappear forever after receiving whatever compensation is agreed,” Shu said. “It’s like a patient going to a doctor. If the patient never comes back after treatment, we assume the disease is healed.”

Mistresses, however, are not always the villains of these cases.

Shanghai Daily interviewed one mistress, surnamed Jin, from North China who had been having an affair with her married boss for eight years. Initially, the man hid the fact he was married. When Jin later learned that he had a wife and son, he told her that he didn’t love his wife.

The man’s wife was aware of the affair but did nothing to stop it because Jin was paid peanuts and contributed a great deal to building the family business.

A friend of Jin’s, who saw the self-destructive nature of the relationship, contacted Weiqing to seek help in extricating her from an unhealthy situation. The “blocker” befriended Jin and counseled her for several months. She eventually cut all ties with her lover.

‘Starting a new life’

“I started a new life,” Jin said. “I was young and naïve when I went into the affair. Now I realize it was the biggest mistake in my life.”

The publicity surrounding Weiqing has produced its share of detractors. Many denounce the level of deceit used by “home-wrecker blockers.”

“However, if the ‘blockers’ don’t violate the mistress’s privacy or use measures that are insulting, threatening, intimidating or involve any violent behaviors, it’s not illegal,” said lawyer Wang Weiping from Yingke Law Firm.

Some prominent psychologists and marriage counselors say the Weiqing approach to family problems is all wrong.

“It’s ridiculous, in my opinion,” said Lin Yizhen, a marriage and family counselor.

Sociologist Gu Xiaoming from Fudan University dismissed the program as just another money-making venture that feeds off unhappy people.

“If the mistress is out for money in a relationship, then it’s a form of blackmail and we leave it to the law,” Gu said. “If the mistress is truly in love, it’s a matter better sorted out by the parties themselves. I don’t think a ‘blocker’ can make it right.”


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