The Confucian style marriage: Does your marriage need a Confucianist makeover?
Confucian ideology places great emphasis on hierarchical relationships. These encompass the “three bonds” that include the relationship between husband and wife (the other two are between ruler and subject and father and son).
In his day, marriage was sacrosanct and it was a fundamental relationship, that when aggregated with other marriages, literally shaped the society in which Confucius lived. The marriage was more a function of its effect on society than it was about the relationship between wife and husband. Don’t get me wrong: love, respect, sincerity, benevolence and virtue were prized in marriages as between the marital partners, and so compatibility was key. But at the end of the day, it was really for the benefit of society at large. Stable marriage resulted in stable societies and divorce was obviously something that was extremely destablizing.
In Chinese society today, it is clear that the societal good/welfare is still of paramount importance. But marriages are busting up in greater numbers in China than ever before. (Although, it is still a minute percentage of them as compared to us in the West). There are still enough stable marriages in China and the society/community still benefits from the stability that comes from the marital relationship.
Nevertheless, like everywhere else in the world, marriage is changing in China. Fewer young people are rushing out to marry, for example. And as I said, when they do, if they find themselves not to be compatible, divorce can be quick and easy. Also, the original man/woman familial bond as the cornerstone of marriage is shifting to new and extended familial constellations. So it calls for a certain creative rethink of what makes a marriage; and what makes it succeed.
At the end of the day, I posit that marriage (whether in China or elsewhere) is still more likely to be successful if it follows certain confucianist principles. Where couples are faithful to each other, respect each other, are sincere in their relations to each other, have the support of family and friends, is blessed with children, contains two virtuous people (i.e., the couple are good and basically decent), and is imbued with morality, then it can’t not be a smashing success.
What do you think? Agree or disagree?
(I’m still in China so I sort of have everything Chinese on the cerebral cortex. Hope wherever you are you’re having yourself a great day. 🙂 )