Marriage is a lifetime bond of mutual assistance, between two or more person and sharing of some specific roles in the domestic setup (Bernfeld 6). In this essay, the main focus is the different ways that the American and Chinese women think about themselves within the context of their families, with specific reference to Liz's divorce in the book Eat, Pray, Love. The author of the book really resisted married and decided to be single. In the context of marriage, the American and Chinese women have different views regarding marriage. This might have resulted from the differences in their cultural backgrounds and perhaps personal thoughts and aspirations (Bernfeld 7).
Difference between Chinese Culture and American Culture
Concerning culture, American and Chinese women think differently about their roles in the families. Firstly, the way each group handles marriage issues brings the difference in culture (Elain 1). Indeed, American women see it important to be married when they are still virgin, meaning that most of the women tries to remain virgin before getting any responsible marriage partner. In China, this is not liberal, and that it is a rule (Elain 1). Most of the parents consider it indiscipline and disrespect for a young girl to engage in sex before marriage. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the girl child to preserve her body and wait for the right time. Secondly, whereas Chinese women readily accept divorce, it does not apply in the context of America. Essentially, the American women believe that the institution of marriage should remain consolidated for the rest of one's life.
They do not readily accept an end to a marriage relationship (Huping 9). However, the contemporary Chinese women believe that divorce is part of life that people sometimes undergo in the society. This is contrary to the traditional Chinese belief that marriage was a lifetime commitment and bond, and divorce in those days would result to social stigmatization. It is perceived that the influence that has resulted to divorce acceptance is the freedom that characterizes a single life (Huping 10). Most of the women are seen as contented with life after divorce and would remain single for a given time. Indeed, there is general acceptance to divorce than in the American context. Possibly, the American uses the inspiration of the book and applies it in the relationship. Also, the gender roles are more pronounced in the American culture compared to the Chinese, who think that these domestic roles should not be distinct (Huping 11).
Reactions to the Response between Chinese and American People
As depicted in the book Eat, Pray, Love, there is a difference in the way American people react to responses compared to the Chinese people. The Chinese women think that their Marriages should be more liberal and responses that they get from other people should portray this liberalism (David 17). Actually, there is a common belief in China that discontent in marriage does not result to prosperity. There have been criticisms that the legal provisions that put one into such custody should be eliminated to allow a couple to quit their marriage at will. It means that the discontented party would have the freedom and time to look for a different soul mate (David 18).
Most of the mature women in China are turning to dating agencies to get their soul mate. Essentially, the Chinese women take advantage of the liberalized laws concerning marriage and the increase in the male population might have resulted to the shift in mind (Millar 1). In fact, China's divorce laws are also liberalized, thereby giving freedom to divorce. The women strongly believe that a happy marriage result from meeting a perfect spouse, usually known as soul mate. Indeed, the illusion is that meeting this person would guarantee one a happy life, not knowing that a joyful life normally result from personal effort in marriage (Millar 1).
According to the book, it is shown that only the reflection of an individual in a mirror could give the true soul mate. Thus, the true soul mate is oneself and may not be the apparent partner. On the other hand, the American women think that the American people do not have required passion in marriage, and may divorce their spouse at will (David 19). The divorce context in America significantly differs with that of the Chinese. In essence, lawyers are involved in the process of divorce. The legal terms of marriage are agreed upon and any dissolution of the same would follow the procedures outline in the law.
Roles that Each Sex Plays Major in the Relationship
Regarding roles, the Chinese women think that domestic roles should be shared between men and women equally (Millar 1). In the American culture, women have certain specific roles especially cooking, washing, and general house cleanliness. Besides, some American men think that the women do not need to work, but take care of the family (David 22. Notably, American culture separates children in terms of gender. Male children are encouraged to play with items such as trucks, whereas the female ones are encouraged to play with dolls, and to pretend as if they cook using toy stoves (Millar 1). According to Elizabeth, couples are subjected to different roles in marriage relationships. She claims that her grand mother had seven children. This was not out of her wish but because she had to obey her husband's demand. It did not matter whether she could raise the children adequately by providing the basic needs. Elizabeth appears to suggest that women were used as objects of procreation even when they objected (David 24).
Furthermore, the writer says that even though matters have changed a bit in the modern world, much more still needs to be done. She gives an example of her own mother whom she says gave birth to two children unlike her grand mother. However, she claims that her mother had to resign from her employment to take care of the children. Nevertheless, men are not usually required to resign fro formal employments to help in taking care of the children. In addition, couples are required to uphold marriage values (David 25). This is the reason why there is a Chinese proverb which says that couples should stay in marriages until their hairs turn grey. In China, men played dominant role in families and was never questioned for his actions. In deed, men played the role of initiating dalliance with women that resulted in love relationships.
Once marriages were initiated, Chinese women were never allowed to marry more than once. They were expected to remain faithful to their husbands and serve them diligently and respectfully (David 25). On the other hand, men were given the liberty of taking one or more concubines this showed male superiority complex that existed in China. Nonetheless, time changes that have opened the country to the outside world like the Americans have suddenly changed the social beliefs. Therefore, practices like getting divorce that were unheard of initially do not carry social stigma anymore. Men, especially those with white collar jobs have abandoned their role of unifying factors in relationships.
Liberal Chinese laws allow men to seek divorce promoting women to abandon their roles being faithful partners in marriages (David 26). In fact, it has been found out that more mature Chinese women are resorting to dating agencies to search for new mates because of their husbands who have abandoned the role of being sexual partners and turned to younger women for sexual satisfaction. Fortunately, the same liberal laws have given women from China the chance of claiming their stakes in marriages by allowing them to break from marriages where they feel unhappy or marriages where they needed played the roles of deciding. Chinese women like their counter parts from America have been empowered by the laws to decide on the types of marriages they feel comfortable with unlike before (Huping 15). In contrast to the American society, Chinese fathers play the role of taking children's custody in cases of divorce. It is believed that the fathers in most cases are economically stable and can raise children with the assistance of the young women they marry. Moreover, the Chinese cultural values dictate that the custody of children remain with their father so that the children can carry on the name of the father's family (Huping 17).
In summary, is evidenced in the book Eat, Pray, Love that the Chinese and the American people differ in their cultures, perception about gender roles as well as their reaction to matters pertaining to family issues. Apparently, the Chinese women are seen to more liberal in their approach compared to their American counterparts. In addition, their treatment to children also differs considerably. Besides, it is noted that the liberal laws that have been applied in the China situation have now brought the desired freedom that the oppressed in marriages wanted. It is also noted that cultural differences in both scenarios have changed considerably. The stringent traditional rules in China and America concerning marriages have been replaced with more liberalized ones, which allow a discontented party in marriage to seek for justice.