What is the state of intimate romantic relationships and marriage in urban China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan? Since the 1980’s, the character of intimate life in these urban settings has changed dramatically. While many speculate about the 21st century as Asia’s century, this book turns to the more intimate territory of sexuality and marriage—and observes the unprecedented changes in the law and popular expectations for romantic bonds and the creation of new families.
Wives, Husbands, and Lovers examines how sexual relationships and marriage are perceived and practiced under new developments within each urban location, including the establishment of no fault divorce laws, lower rates of childbearing within marriage, and the increased tolerance for non-marital and non-heterosexual intimate relationships. The authors also chronicle what happens when states remove themselves from direct involvement in some features of marriage but not others. Tracing how the marital “rules of the game” have changed substantially across the region, this book challenges long-standing assumptions that marriage is the universally preferred status for all men and women, that extramarital sexuality is incompatible with marriage, or that marriage necessarily unites a man and a woman. This book illustrates the wide range of potential futures for marriage, sexuality, and family across these societies.