China Elevator Stories

“Before Marriage, You’ll Have A Lot Of Pressure”

I inquire about the topic of pressure a Chinese person has before and after their wedding.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


In August 2013, I start going to a gym in Shenzhen. When I have my first workout – my trainer, a Chinese guy about my age, asks me: “Are you married?”
He’s fast to go on: “In your culture that question would probably be inappropriate for me to ask, wouldn’t it?”

I explain to him: “Well, depending on the situation I guess it could imply more than just normal interest in a person. To answer your question, I am married.”

He asks: “Did you marry only recently?”
“I did, I got married 2 months ago.”
“In China, we ask this question so we know if someone has a lot of pressure or not. Before marriage, you’ll have a lot of pressure. Now that you’re married, I assume that you don’t have as much pressure anymore.”

I don’t quite understand why this would be the case, but we change subjects and I don’t ask what he meant by what he said.

Later that evening, I ask my husband if it is true that pressure before marriage is supposed to be more than after the wedding.

My husband explains: “It is, for women. There’s a lot of pressure on women to find a good husband. Once they’ve found a good husband, the pressure is taken off them. For guys, it’s the other way around, pressure is more after the wedding than before. At least in China.”

I further inquire: “But isn’t pressure before marriage huge for guys too? Aren’t most Chinese guys supposed to buy a car and an apartment before they get married? What about the pressure of getting kids? Wouldn’t that be more after having gotten married?”

He tells me: “Maybe. Buying a house is not a problem per se, paying back the mortgage is what will make your life harder.”

What do you think?

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