Planet China

Love put to the test

Getting divorced is never easy, but in a small county in Jiangsu province it just got substantially harder. That’s because late last month it said estranged couples had to pass an exam before they could sever their marital vows. Donghai county’s Civil Affairs Bureau introduced its ‘divorce exam’ in mid-May and announced its launch more broadly on its Sina Weibo account, triggering the usual bout of online debate. The test includes questions like ‘what is your spouse’s favourite food?’ and ‘how do you divide the housework?’ According to Sina a score below 60 signals the relationship is unfixable while one above that encourages social workers to try and repair the marriage. The first couple to take the exam posed a quandary for the marriage guidance counsellors. He scored zero which would suggest the spark had died, but conversely she got a maximum score of 100, leading the social worker to conclude the wife “still holds deep feelings for the man and the family and should ask him to give second thoughts to the divorce”. The local government has since proposed the test be used nationwide though it has acknowledged it is voluntary and the main purpose is to “make the two parties think rationally and take love, marriage and family seriously”.

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