Remold the image of Shanghainese’s mother-in-law

Marriage has always been a popular topic in China. That’s why numerous dating shows are coming up without a sign of slowing down. Among all of these shows, “mother-in-law meeting son-in-law” seems different as it boasts distinctive Shanghainese characteristic.

In this show, there are ten mothers-in-law standing behind the platforms and five young men come to the stage respectively in one episode. First, the male guest chooses their favorite princess who is one of the daughters of these mothers. There are altogether three rounds and mothers-in-law can decide if they want the male guest to stay on the stage by turning off the lights. If the he can hurdle all three rounds, which means at least one light remains on for him in the end, he gets to decide if he wants to “hold hands” with the mother of the princess he chooses. As long as he decides to accept the mother who keeps the light on for him, it makes a match. Then he can meet the daughter of the mother and see if they fit in real life.

It might sound ridiculous but given the situation of Shanghai’s mother-in-law culture, it totally makes sense. If a man intends to marry a Shanghainese woman, he has to make her mother happy first.

Shanghai women, especially mid-aged women are powerful in the family. It’s shanghai’s tradition that women are in charge of the money. Most husbands have to hand in part or all of his salary to the wives. This makes Shanghainese mothers-in-law aggressive.

After watching this show for a month, I noticed the most popular questions that popped out from these mothers-in-law’s mouths are “do you have an apartment?”, “how much is your salary?”, “how tall are you?” and “what’s your education background”. To be honest, I am a little angry with them and meanwhile, I feel bad for these young men who are being tortured by ten mothers-in-law at one time.

It goes without saying that marriage requires certain economic base but money is not everything. If the husband prepares house and car before getting married, the couple would have less sense of achievement afterwards.

Sadly, most mothers don’t get this point yet. One of my best friends’ mom once dragged her to my home and complained tearfully in front of my mom. My friend was in a serious relationship with a guy who didn’t have an apartment in Shanghai. Although my mom told her it’s best to respect daughter’s will but she still made them break up. She’s now very happy as my friend is dating a guy whose parents have bought four apartments.

The fact is, my friend doesn’t really care about the house and money. But now, because of her mom, she’s waiting to marry this guy who she doesn’t really like that much. “My mom said material is priority. Feelings can be cultivated with time going by”, she told me with a reluctant smile.

It’s not the only case that I’ve heard or witness. We have a big gap with our parents when it comes to choosing spouse. I doubt these mothers-in-law on that dating show really know what type of men their daughters prefer as a few daughters on the spot pointed out right away that they actually like the men that their mothers just eliminated for them.

This is a good sign. More Shanghainese young women should stand out and decide on their own issues. I hope my friend can fight for her happiness without being manipulated by her mom who is a typical Shanghainese mother-in-law.

I am not saying that all mothers-in-law are like that in Shanghai as a mother in the show told a male guest, “I chose you because I can see that you’re a warm-hearted young man who will be a loving and responsible husband in the future. I don’t care if you have a prepared house or car for my daughter. I believe true love can conquer everything.”

Her attitude is high appreciated. Young women need suggestions from their mothers but they should be the ones who make the final decision. The more the mothers interfere with daughters’ marriage, the more likely more girls will be leftover.

Please give daughters more freedom and be more tolerant. The image of Shanghainese mothers-in-laws needs to be remolded.

Marrying for love or house?

The Supreme People’s Court recently has issued new marriage law that states the priority principle of personal property. The house purchased before marriage is labeled as personal property, which changes the traditional concept of marriage in China.

Based on Chinese tradition, a house stands for stability. Most girls wouldn’t marry a guy if he couldn’t afford a house. In most cases, purchasing a house before tying the knot is man’s responsible and the wife expects to see her name on the property certificate.

In China, parents who have a son would consider it as their duty to provide their son and future daughter-in-law with a decent house and kids just take it for granted. As the housing price is still rocketing, how many young people can afford it? In Shanghai, parents would usually pay the down payment and then the kids pay the loan every month.

Here comes the problem. Man, or we say his parents technically buy the house and he owns the housing property. He would spend most of his salary paying the loan which means the wife would have to take care of the living expenses. But once they divorce, the wife wouldn’t get the house because according to the new marriage law, it is the pre-marriage property. This is unfair as she supports the family expenses while the husband paying the loan. However, it’s just on the assumption of divorce.

Unmarried young people of course have their opinions on the new law, but parents are joining in the discussion as well. On man’s side, parents think that it prevents daughter-in-law from “stealing” the house; therefore, they are satisfied with the new marriage law. While on girl’s side, parents are concerned that their daughter might lose everything once the divorce is on. It goes without saying that Chinese parents get involved too much on kids’ marriage. I can’t help wondering why they focus on divorce and house. Is the daughter marrying the man or the house?

Fairly speaking, most women do marry for love but they still have concerns. One of my girlfriends who are getting married next year said to me, “I love him but the new marriage law makes me feel so insecure.” She demanded her fiancés add her name on the property ownership certificate. “I wouldn’t do that before the new law was released.”

But I don’t think the feeling of insecurity is necessary. I was talking about marriage with my British friend the other day. He said in the UK, people get married when they feel up to it. Besides, young couple can’t really afford houses. They would get married when they are ready and then rent a house. A couple work hard together and probably they will purchase a house in the future. Who cares if they just live in a rented house as long as they are happy? That’s the point of married, which is to enjoy and share your life with the other half. In the end of the day, you are married to the man, not the house.

I can’t agree more with westerners when it comes to marriage. That’s the way I’m going to follow when I find my guy. An independent woman doesn’t need a house of her husband to make her feel secure.

What we miss in our society is the passion to purchase happiness. It wouldn’t hurt if two people in love don’t own a house. As we all know, love can conquer everything. Marriage would be nothing but meaningless if we keep counting what we would get after divorce, wouldn’t it?

Sports and education should be combined

Zhang Shangwu, a champion gymnast who was forced to turn to begging after injury ended his career prematurely has become a media sensation recently.

His case throws the spotlight on the plight of top athletes in China, who are taken from their homes as young as four to be trained in special sports schools, then struggle to adjust to normal life once their careers are over.

Everyone has his own views on this issue. From my perspectives, related sports ministry or society doesn’t have the direct responsibility, but we need to rethink profoundly of what our athletes lack.

In China, most athletes are not well educated. That’s because they are isolated from cultural education when they are little. These potential sports starts are being trained intensively at sports school and the main goal is to win the medals. Even they are arranged to study a couple of hours a day, all they can do is to pretend they are listening or just sleep in class. “I was too tired after the training and our teachers just turned a blind eye,” my friend, a former fencer sighed.

Currently in China, sports and education seems two parallel lines. It could be dangerous and pricy. Once the key potentials fail to make great achievements, it would affect the entire team performance and the athlete’s future. Take Yao Ming as an example. He was trained as the hope ever since he was little. But what if he turned out to be average or couldn’t make it to NBA? It’s way too risky to bet on a couple of athletes.

In the United States, almost all the athletes are selected from regular schools. They don’t have sports schools. The biggest talent origins for NBA is colleges. Coaches at university select excellent players from high schools and universities offer full scholarship. These basketball players are required to pass recruitment test. Their training period is strictly limited to make sure they have enough time to study. They can’t graduate if they don’t earn enough credits, just like every other average students.

Back home, our athletes are spending way too much time on training. They don’t have time and energy to learn what they’re supposed to learn. System is to blame, but I also sensed some of these athletes are guilty too.

As a top-level fencer, my friend didn’t study hard at high school because she knew she would go to university anyway. She only got less than 200 out of 630 scores in Gaokao but was still admitted by one of the top 3 universities in Shanghai. She then represented that university to compete in University Games domestically and internationally. But the reality is that even though she was entitled as a graduate from a top university, it didn’t help her at all when she was looking for job. She was too busy training and competing in the games. As a result, she didn’t learn any skill rather than fencing at school.

What about those athletes who don’t even have a chance to go to the university through bonus policy? Their situation would be even worse. However, in the U.S, athletes, no matter they are top ones or average ones, basically don’t have a problem of finding them other jobs after retirement. The combination of sports and education makes the society value sports. Often times, in the U.S, those who used to be athletes or are good at sports are popular and respected in all walks of life. But in China, unless you’re an elite who has won golden medals in world first-class game, your life after retirement would be harder than you can ever imagine.

In fact, the theory of combining sports and education has been spoken over 20 years in China. It’s just not working in the way we expected. I know our system is different from the U.S and other counties and we have difficulties that we haven’t figured out how to tackle, but we do need to speed up if we want to see the next Yao Ming soon.

We can’t just copy the model how American cultivate their sports talent, but we could at least let sports be part of the education. Sports and education are not supposed to be separated in the first place. In order to do that, we need to create a surrounding where sports and education are combined and it cannot be realized without the efforts of parents, coaches and athletes themselves. We need to help them understand the importance of education and how it will benefit their whole life.