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Sunday, 10 July 2016

What Should You Learn from Reality Shows?

Be brave enough to say Yes, and dare to say No out of love. Source: Desiree Adaway's blog

My Wife's Interest in Love Battle 爱情保卫战

In China, there's a "reality show" where husband and wife get on stage and talk about their problems. The routine is that the lady talks first, and then the husband. And then there's a face-to-face segment where they speak to each other and they can respond to allegations (or complaints, if it is a better description). There's a panel of relationship experts who will counsel the parties about their gripes. They try to intervene with questions and advice before the whole thing descends into a fiasco. 

Sometimes it ends well, and sometimes it doesn't. I see couples divorce quite often, due my line of work. When it works out, I can't wonder whether they're doing it because they don't want to embarass themselves in front of everyone on live television. (It's a recorded telecast in Malaysia, but a live telecast in China.) When it doesn't work out -- hmm, I don't think the couple has lost much. If it's come to the stage where they can get in front of a live audience and make known their complaints to a riveted audience, it was probably a last ditch attempt at saving the marriage.

My wife loves watching this series, thanks to HyppTV's ability to rewind and to watch it on demand. Probably because I don't subscribe to Astro at home, China TV represents the next best alternative to Wah Loi Toi (Hong Kong TV) series. 

I always wonder whether she takes it seriously. 

Here's How It Looks Like

Thankfully, they have a few series uploaded on YouTube. You can watch a few episodes (embedded from YouTube). I hope you understand Chinese, though.

Questions for Viewers

What do you learn from this series? Two people quarrelling. Two people trying to justify their point of view. And neither one of them willing to give way. A panel of wise old men giving advice that may or may not be applicable. But it makes for good television, and the series has become a hit.

My question to you, if you watch this series, is what do you take away from the series? Do you take away the problems and try to apply it to your own life? "Hey, my wife does it too! I have been too generous... it's time for me to stand up for my rights!" Or do you learn from their complaints and try to improve your own? "I've been guilty of this... let me change for the better!" Or maybe you try to learn from the wise old men and pick up advice that you could give your own spouse? "Hey, that's a good way of advising him or her to change without coming across as too overbearing! Let me steal that line..."

What I Think

It seems that the Chinese couple now approaches love in a very different way from their forebears.

Remember that China embraced a One Child Policy, where every couple could have only one child. More than that, they were fined by the state. This created a terrible burden on the children, because each child would have to take care of four grandparents and two parents. Each couple would have to take care of eight grandparents and four parents. Even if half of them were dead, it would still be two people taking care of four grandparents and two parents, and themselves. It is a heavy burden for young couples to have to think about career, love, and marriage, and how to fend for the elderly. And once they have kids (which Chinese parents would expect their children to have) it's an even heavier burden.

But when four grandparents and two parents raise one child, it means that all the resources of the family are poured onto the child's future. And they would want the very best for their only child. They might even side with him or her when she or he is plainly wrong. China's 30-somethings enjoy economic prosperity and a mindset of entitlement. In short, some of them can be quite spoilt.

And sometimes, two very spoilt individuals can come into contact, fall in love, and forget about everything else. In the courting stage, both may make sacrifices. But after marriage, it's a different story. Whereas, in the courting stage, people tend to be blind to all the other person's faults, after marriage they tend to see only the faults. Every shortcoming is magnified and quantified. Every fault is multiplied. And so the inevitable occurs: Couples quarrel, and divorces happen.

You Can Make Things Better

I think if you really want to, you can learn from this series to become better. Learn from their shortcomings, and examine yourself. Don't forget that you have to see the plank in your own eye before you see the speck in your wife's or husband's eye. Don't forget that you are not perfect. And don't forget that she or he is human too. However angry or upset you may be, bursting out in anger against your spouse is not going to help him or her change his or her ways willingly.

They might change, against their will. If it is, they might feel forced into it, and such change is hardly permanent. Change motivated by positive reasons, for positive goals, is likely to last much longer. 

You can take the first step by offering to change for the better.

You can take the first step by asking whether there is anything you can do for him or her, that would make him or her happier. You want to improve the situation, and not spoil him or her. (If I asked my wife that question, she'd ask me to buy another 5 Ju-Ju-Be Diaper Bags for her. They don't come cheap.)

Examine yourself, before you examine your significant other.

Finally, this might sound counter-intuitive, but you might want to stop watching the series entirely. When you begin to look forward to watching this series again and again, without knowing why, the show might be causing you more problems than you know. When you identify with the gripes of the participants and feel anger towards your spouse, without knowing why, the show might be making you feel that your spouse is full of faults (even though it is not justified). When you begin to feel that you have been too kind and that your spouse is stepping all over you, just because of this show, you need to dump this show and move on with reality.

Live in reality. Don't live in a reality show. 

Don't forget, at the end of the day, it's just a show. The show's producers are only after money. They might distort reality the same way that Steve Jobs can distort reality. When you're caught in a reality distortion field, everything appears wrong, and you have to find fault with it.

Don't wait until it's too late. Don't wait until you lose your marriage.

Beware of Love Battle.