Is your marriage in trouble? Are you disappointed or angry with your partner? Do you feel you fight a constant battle with trust issues threatening to wreck your home-life?
It is common for people to seek advice from friends, families and marriage counselors when their relationship is on the rocks.
From October 10 to 12, a forum focusing on China’smarriage and family counseling services industry kicked off in Shanghai. The event attracted dozens of lawyers, psychologists, marriage and family counselors and experts to address relationship issues.
Extramarital affairs are heart breaking. For most couples, they remain the kiss of death.
Based on a survey conducted by the China Marriage and Family Counseling Services Research Center in early 2015, 74.6 percent of China’s divorce cases were caused by affairs, with husbands being the lead perpetrators.
Often, the wronged spouse will want to scream and blame the mistress. While this seems like a reasonable reaction, it is not very effective.
Latest figures from Sichuan Civil Affairs Department revealed that nearly 229,600 couples were divorced in the province of southwest China in 2014. That means there was a separation once every two minutes.
The divorced population in Sichuan has rocketed to five times its previous rate over the past 14 years. Half were caused by affairs.
The increasing divorce rate has sparked a new industry called “Wandering Affections Dissuasion.” In 2013, the first institution of its kind was established in Chongqing.
Lawyers, marriage analysts and psychologists who engaged in family counseling and services earned the title “mistress managers,” and they charged a pricey fee to get rid of home wreckers.
“It is a tough problem in China as home wreckers emerged,” Ming Li, a chief counselor said to The Paper.
A Glimpse of “Wandering Affections Dissuasion”
Statistics from Weiqing International Marriage Hospital and Emotional Clinic headquartered in north China’s Hebei Province showed that the new industry has enjoyed strong momentum in recent years. Their clients doubled annually with an average of 3,000 visits per day.
Family-centered programs, such as emotional analysis, marriage counseling, and sessions discouraging the other man/woman, are recommended to save a family from separation.
A Chongqing-based firm specializing in dissuading illicit lovers has succeeded in persuading over 100 cheating partners to reconsider their options over the past two years.
Luo Rong, a lawyer from Sichuan, began his work as a “wandering affections discourager” as a part-time job. Last October, he founded a marriage consultation company in Chengdu to embark on his new career.
“We try to persuade illicit partners from the perspective of a mother or father. It is an invincible argument that tends to impress the outsiders effectively,” explained Luo.
In addition, the clinics try to make friends with the lovers to understand what their type is and set them up with more appropriate partners, according to Luo.
However, problems followed as more profit-seekers joined in and illegal measures were sometimes employed.
“A wandering affections discourager should not use legally banned equipment to record or take photos secretly in attempt to gain private information. Hurting the safety of the other man/woman is an unlawful practice,” said Chen Qingguo, a local lawyer as well as an arbitrator at the Chengdu Arbitration Committee.
It is a young industry, so it cannot afford scandal with information leaks. It is risky for clients if the professionals they are working with have weak ethics, added Chen.
Necessary but Ineffective
Marriage counseling is an urgently needed tool for Chinese families. In light of the soaring divorce rate, experts at the forum predicted that at least one million marriage counselors are needed in China.
A report by the Ministry of Civil Affairs in June found that 3.637 million marriages came apart in 2014, up 3.9 percent from the previous year, according to Xinhua.
Furthermore, statistics released by the Ministry showed that China has been witnessing a continuous increase in divorces since 2002, most of which are related to extramarital affairs.
Most experts at the forum insisted that affairs generally only affect relationships which have already been strained.
Affairs could never be the reason for dismantling a strong marriage, according to Chen Yijun, an expert from the Marriage and Family Research Institute under the All-China Women’s Federation(ACWF).
“Therefore, discouraging the other lover does not necessarily mean that a marriage will be saved or that the couple’s relationship will remain as close as before,” said Chen.
In addition, it is costly to train professionals in relationship management, with rates as high as 300,000 yuan (U.S. $50,000) invested in per capita for a six-month-long training, explained Shu Xin, head of the China Association of Marriage and Family.
Liu Xuelin, deputy head of the China Association of Marriage and Family, added that the victim of an affair might still have a heavy psychological burden and not be able to get rid of the shadow of mistrust if services are focused more on the lovers than the loyal spouse.