On average, a Taiwanese couple divorced every ten minutes in 2012. Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan said recently that the rising divorce rate is a common problem in all developed countries. However, in breaking down the statistics, the United Daily News reported that the reason for Taiwan’s high divorce differs from other countries, due to the fact that large numbers of foreign spouses have issues in adapting to their new environment.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, there were 55,980 couples who divorced in 2012, an average of over 150 couples per day or a couple every ten minutes. Among the divorced couples, one in four is from a multinational marriage.
Minister Lee pointed out that the high divorce rate is a serious issue; however, there are no simple solutions to cure the problem. He said that the Ministry of the Interior will enhance social welfare, as well as provide marriage counseling courses for new immigrants to integrate into Taiwanese society as soon as possible.
According to the United Daily News, the Garden of Hope Foundation CEO Chi Hui-jung said that for foreign spouses from Southeast Asia and mainland China, it is not unusual for Taiwanese men to pay money to marry these women without developing any foundation of love. Both sides have big differences in cultural background and in their expectations, resulting in a failed marriage.
Chi said that the Taiwanese men, who marry women from Southeast Asia, are mostly from the middle to lower classes, who expect their wives to be obedient, take care of the housework and bear children. While these foreign spouses arrive in Taiwan expect a better life, only to find that their husbands are not as economically well-heeled as they expected. This expectation gap, coupled with differences in eating habits, religion, and language, are added stresses to the marriage.
According to Professor Yang Shu-chu of Chiayi University, despite cultural differences, marriages between Taiwanese husbands and foreign spouses are still manageable if they are built on a foundation of love. However, if they met via a marriage agency without building a deep understanding of each other, or if they become mired in an atmosphere of increasing distrust, their marriage will be even more difficult to maintain.
Yang said that many Taiwanese men isolate their foreign spouses at home for fear that they might meet new friends or run away after adjusting to their new community. Instead of being home bound, it is better to let them go out to attend adult schools or vocational institutes, allowing them to make new friends, and learn something new, which all contributes to a positive effect on family communication and child rearing. In addition, encouraging their children to learn the language of their mother’s native country will instill a sense of belonging in their wives, thereby promoting marital harmony, reported the United Daily News.