It may be surprising to find out that Chinese women, as traditional as they come compared to their western and westernized counterparts, also cheat. When one considers the kind of marriage most of these women have to live with, however, their extra-marital activities may actually make sense.
That is not to say that because the behavior makes sense, it’s justified and it’s right. And in instances such as this, the saying that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander is not about making the playing field even. But it can be pointed out that Chinese wives may actually have a more valid reason to cheat on their husbands than their husbands do when they cheat on them.
It is a known fact that most Chinese husbands are incorrigible cheaters. Unfaithfulness of Chinese husbands is so prevalent, it is often joked that it is China’s national pastime. Given that women in China are not valued as much as the men, and marriages are often more akin to business transactions than a union of two kindred spirits, unhappy marriages have always been a widely-accepted reality in Chinese society.
A study of adultery among a representative sample of urban Chinese couples conducted by the University of Chicago reveals surprising figures, especially when compared to U.S. adultery numbers. The researchers found that 3.9 percent of wives and 20.6 percent of husbands admitted to engaging in extramarital affairs; in comparison, a series of similar surveys in the U.S. revealed that an estimated 1.5 percent of wives and 4.1 percent of husbands committed adultery during the same period. (Source: http://www.lovelovechina.com/sex-china/marital-infidelity-in-modern-china/)
Like their American counterparts, it was also found that Chinese wives cheated on their husbands not because of dissatisfaction with their sex lives, but because there was no love in the marriage.
For some of these married Chinese women, their successful husbands socialize with colleagues and clients every single night, getting drunk and playing mahjong. They only come home to sleep off their drunken stupor. Others have husbands who often go away on business, being gone for weeks or months at a time; “going home” to their wives becomes nothing more than just another stop along the way, and in between they also have their mistresses. Even wives of rural workers who seek out higher paying jobs in the cities suffer the same lonely fate, being left behind for long periods of time.
Such are the pitfalls of traditional Chinese marriages – that is, marriages that are formed only for economic and “biological” purposes. The fact that most men in China feel that they are entitled to their extramarital activities only aggravates their already emotionally unstable and unrewarding marriage.
So their wives seek love and companionship elsewhere. The fact that their husbands also do it does not make it right for them to seek a mate outside their marriage; but when one considers that what they are seeking is not merely satisfactions of the flesh and/or their ego, their actions become easier to understand.
Despite the fact that these women entered into a marriage for practical reasons, they still take their obligation of being a devoted wife very seriously. Devotion, in any form, involves an emotional investment while one performs her duties, and just like any investment, it needs to be “recompensed.” Among other things, marriage is a cycle of give and take where both parties have to participate; a husband and wife feed off of each other and nourish each other. When a husband only takes without giving back, the wife will often find what she needs somewhere else.
On the other hand, Chinese husbands are only expected to provide for his wife and family. The whole traditional setup is often skewed in favor of the husband, but it seems that wives are starting to realize that they can do something about their situation. Granted that cheating is never a correct solution, but such are the realities in many Chinese marriages.
Another emerging reality in China today is the trend among women of China who are choosing to wait for the right time, reason, and person before getting married. These women are aware of the unfavorable position that Chinese wives are often put in and, now, it is actually within their power to choose a better path for themselves.
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