Imagine a test that could not only save your marriage, but prevent you from getting a divorce too. This is what the civil affairs department in Jiangsu province has created for couples on the brink of divorce.
According to Statista, in 2006, China’s divorce rate was at 1.46 couples per 1,000 people. By 2016, that number had more than doubled, to 3.02 couples per 1,000 people registering for divorce. Once considered a social taboo in China, divorce is now sought out by millions of couples who are increasingly not willing to suffer unhappy marriages. Such a dramatic increase in the divorce rate has seemingly instilled fear in the Chinese government.
The authorities have been trying to prevent this trend in divorce, which they believe is caused by a combination of factors. They include an increasing financial independence of Chinese wives and a growing intolerance to domestic violence and extramarital affairs. Last week, the civil affairs department in Jiangsu province created what is known as the Divorce Test. According to The Guardian, “Couples who score above 60 percent on the exam still ‘have hope’ for their marriage. Those, however, who score below 60 percent can conclude their marriage is ‘about to break'”.
In 2016, President Xi Jinping called families the “cells of the society” and asked on all Chinese to “promote fine family culture”. That same year, China’s Supreme Court urged all courts handling divorce petitions to try to save marriages, if and when possible.
The test involves questions that range from the silly to the serious, such as “What is the best memory between you and your partner?”, “What is your partner’s favourite food?” and “What is your child’s favourite snack?” The exam also asks for the dates of anniversaries and birthdays. The goal of the test is to “let both sides understand themselves, and the other side, and recall little moments in their marriage”, the department said, according to Global Times.
A similar test was created by a magistrate of the Yibin People’s Court in Sichuan Province last September. The written exam consisted of three parts; fill in the blanks, short questions and statements with questions covering information such as the couple’s anniversary and family members’ birthdays. It also asked more in-depth questions, such as, “What responsibility have you taken for this family?” and “What does marriage and family mean to you?”
Last year, The Nanjinger reported on a surge in Nanjing divorces after it was revealed couples could only buy one house between them, but as singletons they could own more. Jiangsu’s soaring housing prices were, it seemed, enough to legally break a marriage. How many divorces remain legitimate or not is what the government appears to be trying to get to the bottom of.
After the husbands and wives turned in their papers, the judge read their answers and scored them. If the couples in Sichuan Province scored high enough, the judge would deny their divorce application and advise them to keep working on their marriage.
After receiving online criticism of Jiangsu’s new Divorce Test, the corresponding department in Lianyungang reiterated that the test is purely voluntary and is in no way required for couples seeking divorce. The department told local media most couples had refused to take the test. The three couples that did take the test continued in the registration of their divorce.
Internet users also said that a test before getting married might be more useful and could save a lot of time and money in the future. The Lianyungang department then began offering a voluntary marriage examination that consists of 10 questions and free marriage counselling.