Marriage Chinese Children

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Marriage: Family issues of Mainlander and HK Chinese

19th May 2008

Having late marriage and having children lately are become a normal trend in Hong Kong recently. In 1996, Youth research conducted a research about young people views on marriage and having children. It shown that more than 36 per cent of the respondents give their ideal age for marriage as between 19-45 because at that age range, people are getting much more mature, independent, financially capable and it is a right time for them to go further ahead in their career. And nearly 80 per cent agreed that marriage is a commitment, now and forever. In addition, 30 per cent thought divorce is a reasonable decision if there is breakdown of relationship. In our study, we would compare and contrast the view of marriages in family relationship of mainlanders and Hong Kong Chinese. There are many journals discuss this topic in terms of problem solving, woman role and parenting style. Except the above items, we would also discuss some other information including management of argument, maintain of a good marriage, their view on children achievement and their view point of post-marriage life.

We had interviewed 8 subjects in total, including 4 mainlanders and 4 Hong Kong Chinese. Except one of the HK subject, all of them are having a religion background. The age when they get married was 19-45 and they have been married for at least 5 years. The number of children that they are having is 1 or 2 and their ranges are from 4 to 24.


According to (2004), in traditional China, polygamy was legal. Rich man often had more than one wife and woman generally had more tolerance of her husband being involved in extramarital affairs. In addition, arranged marriage was happen in this period. Young people would have their spouses decided by their parents, and even they may have the first look of their spouses at the wedding. Younger people did not have their right to choose who they love. Marriage was the link between two families and become the beneficial tools towards two families. Rising children is a very important contributor to maintain a good marriage. Since 1950, the Chinese government has promulgated a law which stated that one man can only get married with one woman. The role of being wife was just stay at home, raised and taught children, and even work for work for the household tasks. In the modern Chinese society, it changes a lot. Free love is overlapping the arranged marriage. People can choose to get marriage with whom they love (Wong, 2005). Raising children are no longer regards as parents' assets.

Compare with tradition Chinese society, fidelity was a very important aspect to maintain a good marriage in tradition Hong Kong society. Nowadays, people almost have a late marriage, especially in women. The age of marriage is shift from 22.9 to 27.5 years between 1971 and 2001. According to Wong (2005), the research mentioned that women with higher educational attainment and stronger career commitment tend to marry later. Social and family background characteristics are also important determinants of the age at first marriage of women in Hong Kong. Educational attainment, Economic Independence and Socioeconomic transformation are the three main reasons to explain the later marriage of women in Hong Kong. For the Educational attainment, they mentioned that rising educational and career attainment might lead to later marriage. Qian and Preston (1993) reported the marriage propensities among college-educated women over age 25. Therefore, the researchers conducted the data to confirm again that school enrollment deterred marriage. For the Economic Independence, women nay see their high education qualification be a kind of human capital investment and labor market participation over the life course (Wong, 2005). However, the rapid changes of society may delay women marriage, such as compulsory education, job and career attainment in Socioeconomic transformation. In addition, parents with high education may convey their children to study more. In modern Hong Kong, arranged marriage should be rare. Couples are highly likely to be marrying for love. Love is a more important determining factor in one's marriage decision. People become much less tolerance of raising children.

For our interview, both of the interviewers may say that the maintain of good marriage is not only come from raising children, it also come from respects, have a same interest, care toward each others and even have common scarify and contribution in the families. Moreover, different viewpoints may see people in different culture and society, and their viewpoints supported the previous literatures. The age of mainlander to get marry was from 19 to 25. It has a significant different from 30 to 45 years in Hong Kong interviewers. Mainlanders were earlier to get marry than people in Hong Kong. The mainlanders mentioned raising children and have a next generation were their first thinking point to get marry. However, Hong Kong interviewers might put love on their first priority; raising children might not be an important factor on their marriage. According to Wong (2003), the research was showed that the viewpoints of Hong Kong people on marriage were 71.3 % showed “showing life with a loved one”, followed by marriage is “ a natural and expected event in life (32.9%)” and about 30% of people to choose “ bearing and raising children”.

Problem solving

It has mentioned that traditional women have more tolerant on extramarital affair as their marriages are arranged and polygamy was legal in the past. Nowadays women are not, as they marriage for love. In our question, “How to solve the problem in love affair in marriage?.” There are similar response in Hong Kong and mainlander. Most of them said that they would discuss the cause of love affair rather than divorce immediately. When they find that the cause of love affair was their husband does not love them anymore and refuse to promise it would not happened again. They would choose divorce instead of tolerant their husband on extramarital affair.

In our questionnaire, “when you and your husband argue, finally who stop the argument” We find that in Hong Kong situation, all of the man stop argument. One would go to bedroom, two would stop argument, and one would say other interesting things to distract the argument. In mainlander situation, women would stop the argument, one would stop argument, and one would do housework to distract the argument. Two of them would listening quietly to her their husband and seldom interrupt their husband till their husband stop. It may reflected in mainlander family, it still appear husband dominant the family as two of the mainlander women seem listen their husband argument and seldom interrupt their husband.

Woman role

In traditional Chinese role, women status was low. Chen and Li (2007) indicated that in traditional Chinese society, the husband and wife relationship is a vertical one, husband was perceived as superiors and woman perceives as inferior. It is required that wife should show submission to her husband.

According to Higgins, Zheng, Liu and Sun (2002), woman was perceived as housebound, submissive and second-class citizens in traditional Chinese culture and feudal societies. It may be based on Confucian doctrines the virtue of woman lays in the three obedience, they must obedience to the father, husband and son.

In China study (1997), when asked the participant about the question about male dominance, 60% of participants agreed that women should avoid surpassing their husbands in social status. It reflected that even nowadays there are remains the view that woman are inferior in the marriage relationship. The concept of “a husband sibgs, the wife hums along still exists.


Tam and Lam (2003) indicated that in traditional culture, parents usually considered as authoritarian as Chinese parent emphasize often is put on strict discipline.

Xu et al. (2003) also mentioned that Chinese child-rearing, parents expect children to be obedient and respectful.

In our question,” when the child makes mistake, what kind of method you will teach them” In Hong Kong situation, two of them use friendship style, one would discuss the consequence of mistake and advice children to change their behavior, one said that she usually use scold. In mainlander situation, there of them would use friendship style, and one said that she said that mostly she would discuss the problem with the child, but she said that if her child made serious problem, she would use beating as punishment. We find that most of Hong Kong and mainlander mothers would use friendship style when face of children's mistake.

The following is the additional information of the interview. We also make comparison among four aspects which are argument, maintenances of families, children achievement and premarital sex between Hong Kong Chinese and Mainlanders.

Management of argument

In Hong Kong, the sources of arguments mainly come from children. Secondly, it is from the work, for example, they have arguments with boss. And in our interview, some thought that problem solving styling become an argument source too. She further explained that she didn't agree with the handling method of her partner. But it is not a big problem between them. On the whole, the argument frequency is not high. Most of them reported “not frequent” in this section. One even makes a prediction that the frequency is 1-2 time per year and the duration is only 15-20 minutes.

The same result got in mainlander that the argument source is from children. The frequency has no limit. One of the interviewee pinpointed that more arguments occurred before having children while there are lesser argument after having children.

Maintain a good marriage

The second dimension is maintenance of families; we would like to know whether they have any activities between families. For the fixed gathering, here, it means visiting the original family or father-in- law, or having activities. Hong Kong Chinese usually reported that they have fixed gathering with families. Some of them visit their father-in law family every week, some visit the original family every week, and some even visit both father in law family and original family. They usually have birthday party in Chinese restaurant or gather at home.

However, this situation is not the same in mainlanders. Respondents reported that they don't have fixed gathering due to the following reasons. First, it is inconvenience to take care of the baby. Also, their original family is far from Hong Kong. Thus, it takes much time to travel from Hong Kong to their home town. Some said they would visit the baby grandparents after the babies grow up.

As our information gathered, all interviewee don't live with their father-in law family or their own parents. They moved to a new flat.

Children achievement

The third dimension is children achievement. Both Hong Kong Chinese and Mainlanders thought that academic achievement is especially important. They hope their children will have a bright future. But the attribution is a bit different. Some Hong Kong parents thought that to strive for the best academic achievement is their children responsibility, and some thought that it is parent's responsibility if they have high education level.

In Chinese respondents, they thought that it is children self-responsibility.

Post-marriage life

For the last dimension, both Hong Kong Chinese and Mainlanders oppose having premarital sex due to different reasons. Some even reported they have sex after marriage .There is total of four reasons. First of all, some respondents have religion that they believe that god don't like people having sex before marriage. Secondly, respondents hold the traditional thought that sex should happen only after marriage. Some are afraid of virus. Some thought that it shows not enough trust to each other if having sex before marriage. Although they thought that having sex before marriage is no good, they realized the society run on an opposing way.


To conclude, we found that there is no big difference between the mainland subjects and the HK subjects. Generally, they all have similar viewpoints concerning the family issue.

We think that the reason why they have similar viewpoints is because mainlander and HK Chinese, are actually, sharing the similar culture. Also, subjects from mainland have moved to HK for several years already. Therefore, they maybe already influenced by the HK culture and have accepted it as it own.

Besides, it is really difficult for us to control the background of the subjects. First, the age range of the participants is too broad. Some are married very early and some are late. For instance, one Chinese subject is married at nineteen and the other one is married at the age of forty-five. As a result, their ways of thinking maybe very different.

Second, the subjects are with different religious background. The religious beliefs may affect the subjects' viewpoints. For instance, premarital sex is not allowed for someone that holds a religious belief.

Third, the participants in this interview are with inconsistent education level. Education is also one of the major factors that influence one's viewpoint.

Also, we think that the subjects were somewhat faking good on the answer since they knew that we were going to use the results of the interview for presentation. For example, most of the subjects said that they would use a friendship style to treat their children instead of scolding them.

Lastly, the participants recruited in this interview were all female. As a result, the findings are not representative. Male's opinions are not being investigated in this project.



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