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Insight into VN Culture as a Westerner Dating a Vietnamese Woman?, Vietnam forum
In some countries, love is often accompanied by sex. In Vietnam, sex is considered as a taboo subject and having pre-marital sex is unacceptable according to the social convention. Therefore, couples in Vietnam have been expected to have a platonic love before they officially get married. Most Vietnamese parents prevent their children from having a boyfriend or girlfriend when they are in their late teens because they want their children to concentrate on their study.
Paradoxically, should their beloveds are going to reach 30, they would certainly urge him or her to get married. Accordingly, arranged marriage is not uncommon in Vietnam. In the countryside, a true love does not necessarily lead to marriage owing to family pressure. So, within a family you will see different last names. But the children will carry the father's last name. Monogamy is expected to be observed during marriage—at least among the wife anyway.
The family of the groom approves the marriage and organizes the wedding for him. After the wedding party, the bride goes to live with her husband's family. The Kinh attach much importance to fidelity and the virtues of the bride. In the past Vietnamese marriages were arranged through matrimonial agents mai-dongs who brought the two families together and arranged the question of the wedding portion bride price.
MARRIAGE, DATING AND WEDDINGS IN VIETNAM
In return, his compensation was comparatively small: The wedding ceremony was quite simple: The future husband and wife met, mutually offered themselves to each other, and chewed betel nut together. Though Confucian tradition permits the husband to take lesser wives theoretically to be chosen for him by the first wife , economic realities and relatively innocuous modern laws would force him to be content with one at a time. Encyclopedia of Sexuality, 2. Factors to be seriously considered when choosing a marital partner in Vietnam are the social status of the families and the astrological-mystical affinities of the marriage partners.
The uniformity of the mixture of various religious concepts in Vietnam—except among tribal peoples—tends to give a uniformity to marriage arrangements, ceremonies, feasts, dowry, etc. Because the individual is less important than the family, it is expected that the family will have a major voice in the selection of wives and husbands of their children. This is often done through a "go-between" male or female to save "face" in case it is deemed best to break off bargaining.
Another major factor in the choosing of marriage partners is consulting of horoscopes. This is often done by a Buddhist monk who practices the art. Previously marriage was influenced by Buddhist theology and Confucian philosophy. Vietnamese believed that fate in marriage, as well as wealth and position, were preordained, though choice could play some role in activating a positive or negative fate.
Traditionally, children lived with their parents until marriage, and then the couple moved to the husband's father's household. The extended family arranged marriage, but individuals were usually consulted on the choice of their mate.
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The typical engagement lasted six months, with little contact between the bride and groom prior to the marriage. Traditionally the marriage was at one of the couples' homes. Women kept their maiden names legally but used their husband's name formally. Confucianism promotes marriage over celibacy, and defined women's happiness in terms of her ability of having many children.
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Women are generally expected to be married at a relatively young age and to have children frequently thereafter. Out-of-wedlock children are not generally approved; their birth is severely censored: Polygamy is illegal but some men have a second, unofficial wife. In the past polygynous marriages were common and aristocratic men kept concubines but monogamy is now the norm.
Polygyny was widespread in both northern and central Vietnam, as was the taking of concubines. Besides the so-called wife of the first rank, a household sometimes included a second and third wife and their children. The consent of the first wife was required before this arrangement could be made, but, more often than not, additional wives either were established by the husband in separate households or were permitted to continue living as they had before marriage, in their own homes or with parents. Major family reform was initiated under a new law enacted in and put into effect in The law's intent was to protect the rights of women and children by prohibiting polygyny forced marriage, concubinage, and abuse.
It was designed to equalize the rights and obligations of women and men within the family and to enable women to enjoy equal status with men in social and work-related activities. In conjunction with the law, a mass campaign was launched to discourage, as wasteful, the dowries and lavish wedding feasts of an earlier era. Young people were advised not to marry before the age of twenty for males and eighteen for females and to have no more than two children per household. In March , Associated Press: The government directive says authorities will respect some marriage traditions of ethnic groups, but "backward'' customs will be strictly prohibited or discouraged, the Thanh Nien newspaper reported.
Banned customs include wife robbery, in which women are forced to wed, and marriages of men and women of the same bloodline within three generations.
Insight into VN Culture as a Westerner Dating a Vietnamese Woman?
The directive also forbids the practice of forcing widows or widowers to marry a family member of their dead spouse, and the practice of demanding large gifts for marriages.. Members of ethnic minorities held protests in Vietnam's Central Highlands a year ago over government restrictions on religion, and the coercive policies of local officials. Associated Press, March 30, ]. In October , AFP reported: Tran Viet Chu, a year-old from the central province of Quang Tri, who spent 60 years travelling the country while working in the building trade, married at 17 but his first wife died 10 years later.
Chu soon tied the knot again but nevertheless brought another 14 "wives" into his household over the next half-century. I seem to have been born with this flirtatious tendency," he told the Cong An Nhan Dan People's Police newspaper last week.
Marriages are regarded primarily as a social contract and traditionally they were arranged by the parents through intermediaries. The parents' choice was influenced more by considerations affecting the welfare of the lineage than by the preferences of the participants. Today, although arranged marriages are technically against the law many marriages are still arranged by parents, often with the help of matchmakers and sometimes before their children have reached puberty. To go against their wishes is considered dishonorable.
Marriages have traditionally been arranged by parents with the help of go-betweens and the strong influence of elders. Partners were selected on the basis of family connections, wealth, social status, religion and village. The mother of the girl has traditionally been very sensitive to the possibility of being dishonored and went out of her way to make sure everything checked out before agreeing to the marriage.
The final decision was made after consulting a fortuneteller who made sure the horoscopes of the boy and girl were compatible and auspicious. The arrangement was formally sealed with the payment of bride price to a fund controlled by the village or community where the girl lived. Parents are interested in securing a good mate for their child out of concern for their future.
It is not unusual for parents to desire a mate of high status with a career that will be lucrative, such as doctor or lawyer. Though rarely given absolute choice, family still bears heavy influence over the decision to marry.
Astrology is an important consideration in choosing a marriage partner among ethnic Vietnamese. Compatible mystical affinities among bride and groom will allow them to marry in keeping with the harmony of the universe; incompatible readings indicate discord which will result in serious martial difficulty. This question of mystical affinities is based on the Chinese concept that three essential factors must be considered: The five major planets with a significant influence on human lives and the items that represent them on earth are: Each of these elements can build up or destroy one another according to this theory.
That is to say: Fire helps soil but destroys metal while soil helps metal. Wood destroys soil while water helps wood. Water destroys fire while metal helps water. Metal destroys wood while wood helps fire. Since individuals at birth come under the auspices of at least one of the above planets, it is imperative to make sure that two which oppose each other are not united.
A man born under Venus marrying a girl of Mars would find arguments, unhappiness, etc. Similarly, if the man is of fire influence and the wife of water, countless arguments, poverty and perhaps divorce is their predetermined fate; but if man is under influence of fire and the girl of wood, they will have many children and prosperity. If both are born under the influence of the same planet or its earth representation, things begin to get complicated.