The institutions and relationships of marriage have undergone a corresponding evolution since the 1980s, as China has implemented the policy of reform and opening-up, speeded up the process of industrialization and urbanization, and achieved rapid economic development and a rise in people’s quality of life. This has been coupled with the implementation of family planning policy, the amendment of the Marriage Law of the People’s Republic of China, as well as the promulgation and implementation of the Regulations on Control of Marriage Registration. With the relative weakening of the influence of public authority on the family, individuals have more control over their lives, and the conjugal relationship in which married couples are companions has claimed a core position (Yan, 2003/2006). It also has been observed that the number of marriage registrations is shrinking, the divorce rates are rising year by year (Zhang, Y., 2008; Tang, 2005), and the importance of the institution of marriage is declining (Tang, 2005). Many studies extrapolated that singleness, single parents, cohabitation, nonmarriage and childlessness, and other diverse family structures would have appeared in large numbers (Wang, 2006; Wang, 2010; Li, 2009; Chen, 2004). As the society tends to be more tolerant of cohabitation outside marriage and divorce, great anxiety has also been aroused among scholars and the public over the contamination of Western individualistic culture and the decline of traditional family values. The rising divorce rate is often equated with materialism, carnalism, juvenile crimes, and social instability (Hu, 1997; Mu, 2015). It has been conjectured that the progressive increase of marriage costs and risks causes young men to dare not enter the ‘besieged town’ of marriage because of their ‘fear of marriage’ or gamophobia (Wang, C., 2008; Zhu, 2008). Also, the Western theory of the ‘unprecedented decline of the family as a social institution’ (Popenoe, 1993) has been widely recognized in China. Young couples have even attached negative labels such as ‘flash marriage’, ‘flash divorce’, and focusing only on personal happiness with the diminishment of family responsibilities because of relatively higher divorce rate (Wang, X., 2008; Zhang, J., 2008). Is it true that Chinese marriage views and behaviours have become more like those in Europe and the United States over the past 30 years? Has the value of
marriage diminished, along with traditional restraints of laws and customs, and the emergence of changes to post-modern characteristics such as deinstitutionalization, instability, and restructuring? Have the youth’s views on divorce become very open and their inclinations towards divorce very reckless? Has the traditional marriage in which married couples are committed to each other until death become a myth of the twenty-first century?