Love letters to tackle China’s increasing divorce rate

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A Beijing couple holding the love letters.

Worlds fastest growing economy has another national crisis to deal with the sky-rocketing rise in divorce rate of the country. Since 2004, divorce rates in China have doubled. A total of 1.96 million couples applied for divorce, a 14.5% increase in 2009. Some experts put the rise down to a change in the law which has made divorces easier to obtain. Others say China’s one-child policy has produced a generation of adults focused on their own needs and unable to sustain a relationship.

While marriage samaritans are brainstorming on how to get round the separation menace, China Post Office popped up with the idea of a new love letter service to remedy the seven year itch. Newlyweds can send each other sealed love letters to be delivered in seven years.

“We hope the love letters may save some marriages in the future,” a post-office official told China’s state media.The post office is expecting its scheme to prevent some couples reaching the divorce courts. The plan is to offer the service wherein newlywed couple will send sealed love letters to post office to be delivered after a time period of 7 years. The idea is to rekindle the lost love which is likely to happen as marriage relationship advances. These letters will serve as a timely reminder on how they have felt for each other when they united.

Zhang Ying and Liu Cheng are a young Beijing couple about to tie the knot, but they want to factor in the seven-year itch. So they are planning to take advantage of the post office’s scheme and write letters to each other. Liu said the contents of his letter were for his wife-to-be alone. But Ms. Zhang said she would ask her husband to “hold my hand and grow old with me”.

The new service was launched on 9 September, a strategic launch date considering the words “nine nine” in Chinese is a homonym for the word “forever”.

Couples who wed in any of Beijing’s 17 registration offices will be given one of the envelopes.

They are also producing special stamps, postcards and even a Love Passport which can be stamped on every anniversary.

While the scheme may seem a playful reference to the seven year itch, it was in fact launched jointly with Beijings Civil Affairs Bureau, hinting to a more serious motive for the initiative. Work-related and money-related stress have been blamed for the rising number of divorces and a post office official to Chinas state media commented: We hope the love letters may save some marriages in the future.

Special stamps, postmarks, postcards, envelopes and even a Love Passport, which can be stamped every anniversary, make up the romantic product range available from Chinas post office.

“If couples don’t tell us to cancel the service, well still deliver the letter”, said Sun Buxin, a manager of a Beijing post office branch.

While the success of the idea wont be known for another seven years, what is clear is that the symbol of the love letter still holds its weight despite new and social media. How laughable or not the idea is, but it clearly seems the days of humble greeting cards are back again.

Sources: China Post, BBC

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