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January 7, 2013

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Pampered young adults blamed for rise in divorce

DIVORCE in Shanghai surged by 13 percent last year, the largest increase in recent years, which experts said likely was caused by increasing instability among young people's marriages.

A total of 44,364 couples with at least one Shanghainese partner divorced in 2012, up more than 5,100 from 2011, the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau said yesterday. The number of divorcing couples in 2011 rose only 4 percent from 2010.

The divorces in 2012 included 400 in which at least one partner was an expat.

The rising number of marriages among youngsters born after 1980 is partly behind the increase, said Leng Li, a marriage counselor.

Those born after 1980 were pampered by their parents as China's one-child policy took effect, and they tend to be more self-centered and less tolerant in a marriage than those born earlier, said Leng.

"When disputes erupt, neither the husband nor the wife is willing to compromise because they grew up in a similar environment" of a one-child family, she said. "So quarrels escalate into divorces, sometimes with parents' intervention."

Also divorce has become easier, said Leng, who forecast that divorces in the city would continue to rise for a couple of years.

Her view was shared by Lin Kewu, deputy director of Shanghai Civil Affairs' marriage administration office. He said detailed analysis on the figures is underway, but it appears that an increasing number of young couples are not taking their marriage vows as seriously.

In a recent case, a dog caused a young couple who had vowed "until death do us part'' to decide to return to singlehood.

A young local woman who has been living with a Samoyed dog since she was a teenager took her dog on every date with a local man. When the man proposed, she asked that the dog be allowed to sleep on the bed with her after they were married.

But every time the man tried to go to bed, the dog barked at him and tried to attack him. The situation lasted a month. The man complained, but the woman wouldn't give in. The man then told his mother, who quarreled with the mother of the woman. They got a divorce.

Some young couples under 30 are not good at communication, tolerance or settling disputes, experts said.

Middle-aged or senior couples divorce usually because of financial disputes such as real estate ownership, Lin said.

Widowed or divorced people who remarry in their middle-aged or senior years are also vulnerable to divorce as their children may provoke fights, especially over finances, he said.


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