The Civil Code, the first law defined as a "code" in the People's Republic of China, was passed on May 28. It regards all aspects of our lives.
It sets a "cooling-off period", requiring couples who file for separation to wait 30 days before their request can be processed. During the month-long period, whoever changes the idea can retract his or her request.
It has stirred hot debate online. Some support the move, believing the "cooling-off period" to be a positive thing for furious couples that casually file for divorce after a quarrel, allowing them to avoid creating a trail of regret (the divorce filing is recorded, even if they reunite to marry again later).
Some internet users, however, disagree and believe it sets a barrier to ending a marriage that is already dead, forcing "victims" in the union to endure unnecessary suffering when they are eager to walk away from an emotional impasse. Additionally, the critics posit that the new requirement will make people reluctant to marry, as it becomes harder to get a divorce.
But there is one thing which we all have to admit: All marriages are a mystery to outsiders. In China we have an old saying that likens marriage to sipping a mouthful of water — only the drinker knows if the temperature is suitable.
For me, the news is reminiscent of the film Marriage Story, starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, which I watched recently.
In the film, arguably the best relationship-themed movie this year (taking into consideration that so few new movies have been released due to the pandemic forcing the worldwide closure of cinemas), Driver stars Charlie, a brilliant stage director, and Johansson plays his wife, Nicole, a one-time Los Angeles movie actress who relocates to New York to be with her husband. They have an eight-year-old son.
Although they look like a brilliant couple, their marriage has long been full of cracks. Charlie cheated and cares more about himself to "force" them live on his terms. When Nicole gets a well-paid offer, she returns to Los Angeles with their son, and files for divorce in the city. It ensues a grueling "battle" for separation amid the confrontation of their vicious attorneys.
But it's not a movie that makes you pick one side. It's hard to argue who is the one to be blamed. Charlie has his advantages while Nicole has her shortcomings.
For me, the most surprising part of the story is that it makes me believe in love, despite it being a tale about divorce. The two still love each other, even in the moment that they hire attorneys to respectively strive for their individual benefit in court. They have to get a divorce because they both want to pursue their own dreams that, unfortunately, can't find harmony with their marriage.
As the wait for the final result of their divorce proceedings drags on, they begin to realize the emotional harm they inflicted on each other. The torturous experience, however, finally allows them to find meaning in their marriage and helps them to peacefully move on.
So, I believe the "cooling-off period" may be useful for some couples. Even they still insist on getting the divorce after the 30 days, the month might help them to understand each other better and figure out the best way to achieve a fresh start in their lives.