On April 25th, psychologist Wang Xuefu was invited to give a seminar titled “Analyzing the Current Marriage Dilemma from a Psychological Perspective.”
Dr. Wang, the founder of Zhimian Institute For Counseling and Psychotherapy, Nanjing, holds a Ph.D. in literature from Nanjing University and a Master of Psychology and Counseling from Andover Newton Theological School in the U.S. He was given the Charlotte and Karl Buhler Award for 2013 by the American Psychological Association and has authored books including The Wounded, The Road to Growth, and Healing Heart.
During his seminar, Dr. Wang said that the Song of Songs in the Bible discusses the romance between King Solomon and Shulammite and even goes so far as to describe the body and sex. However, in his opinion, this book is selected for the Bible because it symbolizes the intimate relationship between God and man, just like the love between King Solomon and Shulammite, which makes people intoxicated and intimate.
He talked about the phenomenon of young people who like to keep pets instead of falling in love. First of all, he affirmed that young people like to keep pets on the good side, that is, the close relationship between people and pets can bring intimate emotional satisfaction to human beings and help them learn intimate expressions from animals. However, what is worrying is that when a person has been in contact with pets for a long time, they may be disappointed and lose confidence in others. That even affects the person’s love for humans. “Because it is easy to get emotional satisfaction from animals, it takes a difficult process to get emotional satisfaction from people. It is difficult for people to establish relationships because they come from different cultures. Their growth experiences, environments, education, and lives are different. They need to run into each other and conflict, and finally seek solutions to reach a harmonious relationship.”
He explained, “Some have suggested that contemporary society struggles to love other humans, leading to an increase in affection for animals who are considered inferior beings. To some extent, it can be said to be correct. However, in the current era, loneliness is pervasive as people fail to connect with one another on a meaningful level, resulting in love becoming an increasingly challenging pursuit."
During a Q&A session, one participant posed the question, “Why do many young people avoid marriage, evade responsibility, and neglect their personal development?”
Wang replied, “Many young people feel very tired when they grow up all the way, and they have the pressure of study, work, and survival. Some people feel that love and marriage are also very tiring because what they get from their parents is a negative blueprint for marriage. Their parents are quarrelsome and indifferent to each other, with many conflicts. Their lives are anxious and tiring. The young will ask themselves ‘Why do I want such a marriage?’ Young people’s reluctance to have children may also be related to their own growth experiences. They think like this: ‘I was used to being a child; my growth was used to be unhappy; I used to have academic and work pressure.’ They don’t want their children to have the same experience.”
“Many young people really avoid marriage and parenthood due to the difficulties of this era. We should not solely blame them. Instead, we must provide guidance on how to cultivate fulfilling marriages and raise well-adjusted children.,” he adds.
Another question is: “How to help children regain their confidence when they are hurt in love?” His suggestion is that “love encounters trauma and needs healing.”
In response to another question about helping children overcome heartbreak, he suggested, "Emotional wounds require healing, but it is crucial to approach this process with patience. Rushing to mitigate the trauma can aggravate the situation by suppressing the child's feelings. It is also essential to avoid over-comforting the child as too much comfort may have a numbing effect that could ultimately weaken them. Instead, encourage them to remain social and engage in activities such as friendship and work. As they interact more with society, new opportunities will emerge, and their emotional wounds will gradually heal.”
When asked about men who struggle with emotional maturity even in their 50s, Dr. Wang answered, "This is a phenomenon that is forming in this era: women are mentally mature, but men are mentally immature and even naive, for example, saving face, not good at learning, not reflecting, being stubborn and old-fashioned. This means that it is difficult for many women to find men who are as mature as they are mentally. The high divorce rate in modern times is due to the fact that it is women who choose divorce, not traditional men. Traditionally, women were dependent on men, but now women can be economically independent and so choose to divorce. However, women who choose to divorce will be at a greater loss for an independent, high-quality life and self-sensitivity based on their own wishes"
A participant asks, “What should be done if it is difficult for men to grow up in marriage as some people are still naive at the age of 50?” He answered, “There is a concerning trend in contemporary society of women exhibiting greater mental maturity than men who remain naive and inexperienced. This disparity manifests in behaviors such as saving face, an unwillingness to learn, and being set in old-fashioned ways. Consequently, it has become challenging for women to find male partners who exhibit similar levels of emotional maturity. The increasing divorce rates are attributable to women choosing to end their marriages, rather than traditional male-female dynamics. Historically, women were reliant on men, but with the advent of economic independence, women have gained the autonomy to initiate divorces. However, women who decide to divorce may experience a loss of certain benefits of marriage, including self-sensitivity and high-quality life based on their own desires.”
"While some suggest that women's many responsibilities cause men to appear naive, this is only one contributing factor. Men's emotional immaturity stems from cultural and social factors that fail to educate and cultivate them properly. In certain families, mothers are primarily responsible for raising boys, resulting in fathers lacking participation in their sons' upbringing. However, fathers serve as crucial role models for their sons. Additionally, male characteristics are often underrepresented in the primary and junior high school curricula where female teachers predominate, leading to missed opportunities for boys' growth and development. Despite girls' superiority in intellectual and physical aspects, some boys may be late-maturing, which leads to difficulties in their growth. Moreover, some families show a preference for sons over daughters, resulting in the overindulgence of boys and restricted development of independence. These are several causes of men's emotional immaturity."
Some participants also asked, “My family urges me to date someone, and a colleague of mine is not bad, but my sister disagrees, saying that if I marry him, she will cut off the relationship with me.”
He replied, “If you find yourself genuinely in love with this person and decide to marry them, it is likely that your sister will eventually change her attitude toward him. It is unlikely that she will truly cut you off from her life, as this kind of disownment is backward and demonstrates a desire to force and control others. You have done nothing wrong by choosing someone who makes you happy, but your sister does something wrong."
“And choosing partners with whom to fall in love and get married is ultimately your business. Although your sister expresses concerns, you are the one who must live with this person for the rest of your life. It is up to you to decide if this individual is worth both the good and bad aspects of their personality. Therefore, you must make the decision and accept the consequences of your actions."
- Translated by Charlie Li