Ruzhui: When Chinese Men Marry Into Wife's Family | Speaking of China

9 Responses

  1. Michelle
    Michelle June 20, 2011 at 2:53 am | | Reply

    This is one of the problems that comes from not talking about different issues before marriage. Growing up, I was taught that you should discuss a variety of topics with your SO (significant other) before considering marriage. I do agree with this, though not necessarily to an extreme extent, such as going over lists and lists of questions (like ‘What is your favorite color?’) to get to know someone. I noticed that this isn’t common in the Chinese culture. Things like who will handle the finances, or whether the couple will have one bank account or two, or how to handle child-raising, is not usually discussed before marriage.

    Maybe O’Neil’s wife didn’t know about her parents’ intentions for him to “ruzui,” though maybe he could’ve gotten a hint of it if they had talked more about expectations of their marriage.

    Luckily, my bf isn’t as adamant about Chinese marriage traditions. Otherwise, we probably wouldn’t be together, since I made it clear from the beginning that this city girl can’t live in the China countryside forever. In fact, he finds it strange that I want to change my last name to his when we get married.

    By the way, is “O’Neil” the English name of a Chinese guy? Confused.

  2. ordinary malaysian
    ordinary malaysian June 20, 2011 at 6:21 am | | Reply

    I had heard of 入赘 once when I was young, surprisingly. What I was given to understand from the adult family members then, was that it carried negative connotations. Here in Malaysia, I have not heard nor seen it practised since.

  3. Sophie
    Sophie June 20, 2011 at 6:51 am | | Reply

    It’s pronounced as “Ruzhui”(入赘) in Mandarin Chinese instead “Ruzui”

  4. xl
    xl June 20, 2011 at 6:37 pm | | Reply

    How interesting….I had no idea that ruzhui was still being practiced today. The situation in your friend’s case does sound unfair since it seems like they just sprung it on him. Let me share my family’s experience:
    My grandfather married into my grandmother’s family in 1959, and both my mom and her sister have my grandmother’s last name. Of course, my grandfather agreed to all of this before marriage. Both of his parents had been killed years ago during the communist takeover for being landowners, and the family house was being shared by his 2 older brothers + their wives/kids. Already in his 30s without family or money, my grandfather’s prospects for marriage were low, so ruzhui didn’t seem like a big deal to him.
    On my grandmother’s side of the family, her mother was a single parent (divorcee) without any sons. (The 1930s-era divorce story is pretty interesting but too long to tell here.) Anyway, my great-grandmother worried that without a son, there would be no daughter-in-law to take care of her in her old age so she insisted on my grandmother marrying someone who wouldn’t be taking her away. Not many men agreed to this plan so good thing my grandfather came along at right time! At the time, my grandfather was working in Hangzhou, but my grandmother’s family lived in a rural village between Hangzhou and Ningbo. As part of their arrangement, my grandfather would continue living in danwei dormitories in Hangzhou, and my grandmother would stay with her mom in the countryside. After my great-grandmother’s death in 1979, my grandmother took the kids and joined her husband in Hangzhou. As far as inheritance, everything went to my grandmother, but as long as they stayed married, my grandfather would technically be partaking in that inheritance too.

    Sorry the story is so long but my point is that I had always thought of ruzhui as being something that’s in name only. It was slightly difficult for my mom to grow up without a father in the house but after everyone reunited, they became an incredibly close-knit family. Also, my grandfather is an extremely laid-back guy without much of an ego, and I don’t think that he’s ever felt like he didn’t belong or missed out on anything or lost his manhood or whatever just because he let his kids have his wife’s name and let his wife control the family money.

  5. sam
    sam June 20, 2011 at 7:51 pm | | Reply

    heard about it (ruzui) from the older generation. it was nothing unusual back in the old days. the family of the woman is rich, the groom is not well off, so the family of the woman say ‘ok the first born, male first born will carry our family name and the rest (whether male or female) will carry your family name’ and most of the time the groom will agree to it. but of course there are other types of arrangements, depending on what the family of the bride has in mind. the practice still exists in modern times, but then again most people never heard of it or choose to think that it no longer exists.

  6. Mira
    Mira June 20, 2011 at 9:41 pm | | Reply

    An idealistic conclussion would be if the daughter was to stand up and tell the world (well at least her parents) “I love this man, I married him because of who he is and how he makes me feel ; I love, respect and trust him and I want to build a future with him” It would be goog to know that she “had his back” but that would be going against family, tradition and expectations; life and life circumstances are real and almost never idealistic.

    It may seam that O’neils in-laws are “dictating” (maybe this is a harsh word) the way they want their daughters marriage to “flow”. No doubt they love her, and want to protect and give her the best in life but in doing so they are not only disrespecting (again maybe a harsh word) the one man (her husband) who loves and cherrishes her but they are also disrespecting her choice of man whom she fell in love with and whom she chose to marry.

    I hope your friend canget through this difficult period and start a fresh

  7. alreadyasleep
    alreadyasleep June 28, 2011 at 11:21 am | | Reply

    Considering that a relatively recent shift in legislation favors the signer of the lease over spousal rights to property, I’m more surprised that ruzhui is not catching like wildfire. I’m not sure if this is a Beijing only law or blankets all of China, but the spouse has no rights to property in the case of divorce. In a country where it’s expected of men to own property before marriage, that’s leaving a lot of women very vulnerable.

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