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Home  /  Inside China  /  裸婚, Naked Marriage - Surrendering to romantic love, not anticipating a pink future
裸婚, Naked Marriage - Surrendering to romantic love, not anticipating a pink future print version
裸= nude, 婚=marry; 'marrying naked', without money, an apartment or whatever necessities a new family requires... The 裸婚 luohun couples manage to promote romantic love, oppose some traditional concepts, while still avoid much of the criticism directed at the Chinese post-80s generation, as it is acknowledged that the conditions of 21st century China often do not provide them with better alternatives.
The difficulties in standing firmly on one's two feet within the competitive modern China economy has led youngsters to calculate their future plans and marriage possibilities gravely. Some couples wait for university graduation and then rush to marry - 毕婚 bihun, believing that the new earned diploma could make life easier, while others wait to find good jobs first. In addition, some youngsters prefer not to get into deep relationships before creating a firm foundation for a future family. This is true mainly for men, who must have something valuable to offer their loved ones, though the rising phenomenon of shengnv 剩女, ('left women', women who passed the normal marriage age and remain single), is also related so such socioeconomic pressures, and the focus people give to career over marriage.

With the above trends becoming more and more normative, some couples of the post-80s generation (80后hou) change their priorities and bring about the 裸婚 luohun phenomenon, couples who don't have the patience to wait until the unknown future serves them well, and just marry when they feel they are emotionally ready. 裸= nude, 婚=marry; 'marrying naked', without money, an apartment or whatever necessities a new family requires.

Most luohun couples claim that the most important base of marriage is emotion, love, and a deep acquaintance with the partner. Such couples might be in a relationship for several years, so the 'naked marriage' isn't an act of impulse, just a desire not to wait too long, believing that the essence of marriage shouldn't be dependent on material conditions. Concerning the moment of expanding the family to three members, some luohun couples continue with the romantic 'wait-free' approach, while others decide that a newborn requires more stable conditions.

The big Chinese portal has recently conducted a survey regarding netizens' opinions about the luohun phenomenon. Though many of the internet users represent the 80hou generation it is still quite surprising that 53% claim that luohun is acceptable and over 56% believe that only couples that don't have any better choice choose to 'marry naked'. Concerning the question what in fact should be considered as luohun, 36% claim it's marrying before having one's own apartment, 19.7% believe it's not owning a car, 16% claim it's not having a wedding party, 15% say it's skipping the diamond ring and 13% consider not going on a honeymoon as luohun.  (The survey can be watched here).

It seems that luohun is becoming more and more understandable and acceptable by not only 80hou members but by the entire society, which acknowledges that sometimes it could be the best possible choice. After all, luohun isn't a divorce-inducer impulsive act of 闪婚 (shanhun, 'flash marriage'), couples who marry soon after meeting, without getting to really know each other, leading often to a very short marriage lifespan.

Furthermore, luohun shows not only commitment to the mythic ideal of love, but also reflects respect to the marriage institute. By 'marry naked', couples refrain from moving in together before getting married (a phenomenon which is called 试婚 'attempt marriage'), a behavior which remains unacceptable by the majority of Chinese society. Though many parents are very concerned about the financial foundation of their children's marriage, they themselves don't want to wait decades until meeting their first grandchild.

Promoting the idea of romantic love as the only important base of a married couple is not in accord with the traditional Chinese marriage style. The new challenges of the modern age, apartment prices, job competition and corruption make saving up money very crucial, but also lead to the notion that perhaps reaching a solid financial state before marriage is an unattainable target. While luohun couples push forward a romantic idea of love, in the eyes of society they at least don't promote more permissive 'irresponsible' concepts such as impulsive marriage, 'living in sin' or infidelity.    

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