Last October when Joe and I went back to Shanghai for my cousin’s wedding, I had high hopes of a couple more family weddings in 2013.  On Joe’s side of the family, one niece had been dating seriously for a while and she and her boyfriend were talking marriage, and a nephew had been seeing a young lady for a few months and things were looking good.

I also noticed that the son of Joe’s sister had picked up smoking.  Fang was close to marrying the girl he had been dating for a couple of years.  His mother had bought a 1-carat diamond ring for the girl and a low-end apartment for them to live in.  But the girl was “weird” according to my daughter Jane.  Jane was in Shanghai when she turned 18.  So our families and relatives there threw a lunch party to celebrate her birthday.  Fang’s girlfriend showed up with him in a visibly grouchy and bitter mood.  She was rude and very unpleasant to everyone and it was her first time meeting his whole family!  Jane whispered to Fang in her broken Chinese, “She needs to learn how to smile.”  Not too long after that, they parted ways and Fang took it hard.

News came a couple of months ago that Joe’s nephew Pang Pang had to break up with his girlfriend as they were making plans to tie the knot. Things went downhill when his parents met hers. Her folks would agree to a give their daughter to Pang Pang within a year if the following three conditions were met:

1) An apartment paid with cash 
by his family
2) A wedding banquet hosted at a five-star hotel funded by his family
3) A 67% increase of their future son-in-law’s salary

After the meeting, Joe’s brother and his wife felt that the first two conditions could be met with some maneuvering but the third was too much of a stretch because robbing the bank wasn’t an option. So Pang Pang had to tell his girlfriend that he wouldn’t be able to fulfill her parents’ demands. She said they could still be friends.

At the time Joe’s niece Mei Mei’s mother was going to meet for the first time with her fiancé’s parents who are from Shandong.  To our delight, after the meeting of negotiation, the wedding date of May 25th, 2013 was confirmed.  Joe and I had planned a family vacation at the end of May and so I was very disappointed that we had to miss the ceremony.  My sister-in-law who is going to Cancun with us in May and I made sure we’d send our best wishes and a generous gift.

A couple of days ago, we were informed that Mei Mei’s wedding had been called off.  “She just can’t stand him any more”.  I was speechless and astounded.

In my earlier post “The X-Generation in China”, I discussed the many issues this generation is facing and the societal and parental responsibilities for causing some of the serious problems.  I now realize that the Chinese X-Gen also lacks the ability to handle inter-personal relationships and conflicts.  All the people I mentioned above aren’t teenagers, but in their 30s!  It appears that frequent and even last-minute breakups are nothing out of the ordinary these days.  With the high divorce rate, ‘it’s better than a divorce later on.”

According to the Chinese tradition, the groom’s family typically offers expensive presents (cars, apartments, diamond ring, jewelries) to the bride and finances the lavish wedding ceremony for receiving the gift of a daughter into the family. But the bridal demands are getting more and more outrageous.  Girls are being taught to value material things more than love. One young woman made this outrageous claim “I’d rather sob behind the wheel of a BMW than laugh driving a Honda Civic” and it has become an instant motto that millions of girls live by.

At this rate, the Chinese population growth won’t be a big problem because the X-Gen adult babies aren’t getting married and having children.  I seriously question whether some of the parents are intentionally destroying the prospect of a marriage by making those ridiculous requests.  But if you go to a popular match-making corner of the Shanghai Renmin Park on weekends, you will see a big crowd of senior citizens holding their sons or daughters’ pictures and descriptions, trying to find a perfect match.  Their adult children either have no time for or show no interest in courtship and so the parents feel obliged to step up and make things happen as they always do.  I hope that the parents are aware that by doing everything for their one and only precious child, they are robbing them of the opportunities to grow up and take responsibilities for their own lives!

Mei Mei needs to learn that people who love each other sometimes also want  to kill each other, which is perfectly normal.  If she really loves this guy, I hope the wedding will be put back on schedule and she’ll find true and lasting happiness in her life.