Divorce test offers timely moment for self-reflection and contemplation

Wan Lixin
The aforementioned test could, hopefully, remind the couple that the sweet moments they have been so yearning for are nothing but the mundane trifles they have shared.
Wan Lixin

It was reported that in Donghai, Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province, couples seeking divorce will have to sit for a test administered by local civil affairs bureau.

At the beginning I thought such a procedure silly, mainly because I am vehemently disgusted by tests in all their myriad forms.

Just think of the amount of misery that could have been relieved throughout our lives in the absence of tests. I was quite sure at the beginning that this "divorce test" was just another human attempt at seeking a technical solution to our problems, predicated on a simplistic, analytical and flawed understanding of the human heart and all its depth.

But I was less sure when I took a cursory look at the first few test items.

The tested items include: Specify the birthday of your spouse, your kid's favorite snacks, the last time you communicated frankly with your spouse, and how household chores are shared in the family, among others.

I have to admit it — these questions got me thinking, and I began to develop a sort of self-doubt.

According to the mechanics behind the test, if those in the process of seeking a divorce can earn a minimum of 60 points out of a total 100, then those presiding over the divorce procedures would be remiss if they just let the couple part ways. 

Could I hope to make the cut?

I then consulted several people through my WeChat Moments, and although their responses were mixed, they were predominantly approving (contrary to my initial assessment.)

"Reflecting deeply on one's life is a worthwhile exercise before deciding if divorce is inevitable," one colleague said before comparing divorce to job-hopping. No job is free of drawbacks, they said, just as no spouse is perfect.

One male colleague said this practice is reasonable because these questions work as “kindly reminders.”

But one colleague who has been divorced before thought such formalities pointless, adding that she would not have changed her mind even if she scored glowingly on such a test.

“Divorces stem from the fact that people tend to entertain an idealized notion of married life, and are totally unprepared for many of the hardships that crop up," she added. "A marriage without a shared outlook on life is a doomed one."

Asked why traditional marriages in China (or elsewhere) had been so stable, she explained that traditionally, matrimonial alliances had been informed and fortified by the many trials and tribulations intrinsic to life. In other words, they had invested so much in their shared life that it was hard to bail out.

I believe that another reason owing to the stability of traditional marriage is that traditional couples accepted unquestioningly that marriage was the norm.

When this norm is no longer viewed as absolute, we realize, to our dismay, that we can no longer take refugee in consensus.

Thus traditional marriage is not kept alive by protestations of love, as in today, but by faith.

This faith, alas, eludes quite a few modernized cosmopolitans perpetually on the lookout for new excitement, with some holding themselves above the mundane “trifles” of life.

The aforementioned test could, hopefully, remind the couple that the sweet moments they have been yearning for are nothing but the mundane trifles they have shared.

Another reason might be purely technical, for taking any test can be a cumbersome, or psychologically intimidating, process.

We live in an age when governments are working overtime to raise efficiency, but in the matter of divorce a bit of red tape or delay can be welcome. A bit of self-reflection might even lead to some unexpectedly positive results.

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