One hundred couples organized a mass wedding in Ho Chi Minh City during 2018. – Một trăm cặp đôi tổ chức một đám cưới tập thể ở thành phố Hồ Chí Minh trong năm 2018.
[Reading level: B2 – Upper Intermediate]
Despite government urging under 30s to marry and have kids, young forward thinking Vietnamese say getting hitched can wait.
At 31, accountant Nguyen Thu Huong enjoys a decent income and lives with her cat in a shared rental apartment in Hanoi’s Hoang Mai District.
Since breaking up with her boyfriend seven months ago, she is in no rush to hunt down Mr. Right, to the despair of her parents and relatives.
“Whenever I return home, the first question they ask is whether I will get married this year. My family views a husband and children as the keys to life,” Huong said, stressing marriage cannot be forced nor rushed.
Huong is among a myriad Vietnamese millennials in little rush to find life-long partners or tie the knot, despite a government push.
On April 28, Vietnam urged citizens to marry before 30 and bear a second child before 35, aiming to maintain a replacement total fertility rate (TFR) between 2 and 2.2 children per mother during the reproductive cycle, increasing it in areas currently falling short and vice versa.
According to many sociologists, the social and economic changes inherent to rapid industrialization, modernization and international integration have, however, changed the perception of marriage among Vietnamese millennials.
“I have to make sure whoever I marry is the right person to ensure we are both happy. Getting married before or after 30 is no big deal,” said Hoang The Vinh, 28, a white-collar worker in HCMC.
Vinh, facing pressure from his family in southern Tien Giang Province, has never considered tying the knot, his girlfriend Nguyen Thanh Tuyen, 25, sharing his views on life ever after.
Concurring social adaptation is reflected in the 2019 Population and Housing Census, showing an increase in the age among those getting married.
The SMAM (Singulate Mean Age at Marriage) in 2019 was 25.2 years old, an increase of 0.7 years compared to a decade prior. Notably, the SMAM in urban areas is higher than in rural equivalents, according to the Central Steering Committee for the Population and Housing Census.
While older generations preferred marrying and having children young to ensure they would be cared for and to continue family lines, millennials are different.
Today, social safety nets have reduced the demand to get married and bear children, making marriage less of a necessity.
“Marriage is about enjoying life with my husband, not about having kids, we still have a long to-do list, a child is not included yet,” said Tran Thanh Quynh An, 34, a bank clerk in HCMC. She added marriage would make no difference since she has been cohabiting with her boyfriend for two years already.
“Many of my friends do not plan to have children, so what is the point of tying the knot before 30 or 40?”
According to the World Population Review last year, Vietnam ranks quite low in terms of the TFR, 122nd out of 190 countries.
An is in no rush to marry her boyfriend despite family pressure.
“We want to travel to several countries this year, imagine if we got married and had a kid, we would have to abandon our hobbies and plans for some years.”
Not in the mood for love – Không có tâm trạng để yêu
The 2019 Population and Housing Census showed single household (one-person household) rates increased to 10.9 percent from 7.2 percent in 2009.
With social development and integration, the increasing number of “single-positive” youngsters tend to enjoy life instead of getting caught up in relationships or marrying.
According to psychology expert Dang Hoang An, young people appreciating freedom want to invest in their future plans and experience more things instead of getting bogged down.
“As various life values get imported to Vietnam, many have grown accustomed to living alone,” An told local media this week.
Marketer Nguyen Hai Anh, 32, from Hanoi, relishes single life.
“I stay at home and watch Netflix or hang out with my friends or go to the gym after work,” she said, adding she prefers this to “finding a man and getting to know him.”
Nguyen Manh Tung, 29, also enjoys being on his own and uses dating apps like Tinder to access non-marital sex in HCMC.
“Being in a relationship is complicated and can pose a burden, I like to be alone. Sometimes if I feel lonely, Tinder can help me find a friend with benefits,” he stated.
Psychology expert Che Da Thao supports this fact, saying younger generations are more financially and emotionally independent with more choices providing them happiness, with many preferring a single life.
When the government called on citizens to marry before 30 and bear children early, many responded saying it is better and safer for women to have children before 35.
Dang Quynh Thu, head of the General Office for Population and Family Planning under the Health Ministry, said marrying before 30 ensures better health and improving TFR, especially since Vietnam became one of the countries with the fastest aging population in 2015.
“Biologically, giving birth before 30 is good for both the mother and child,” Thu said.
Trinh Dang Quyen, 34, an English teacher in Saigon’s District 3, concurs.
“If people are in love and want to tie the knot, supporting them financially is a good move, especially when they have children, since raising a child is pricey,” he said. Having broken up with his girlfriend after a 17-month relationship, Quyen has no plans to “return to the love race.”
Many millennials, regardless of their desire to marry, simply have to no idea how to find Mr or Ms. Right.
“My mother said marriage was one of the first steps to adulthood. To me, it should be the last, I do not want to step into anything when I am not ready,” Quyen maintained.
forward thinking /ˌfɔː.wəd ˈθɪŋ.kɪŋ/ (adj): tư duy về tương lai
decent /ˈdiː.sənt/ [B2] (adj): ổn, tử tế
be in no rush to do sth (v): không vội làm gì
Mr. Right / Ms. Right (idiom): ý trung nhân
despair /dɪˈspeər/ [B2] (n): sự tuyệt vọng
a myriad of /ˈmɪr.i.əd/ (quant): rất nhiều
millennial /mɪˈlen.i.əl/ (n): thanh niên (sinh vào những năm từ 1980 đến những năm đầu 2020)
tie the knot /nɒt/ (idiom): kết hôn
urge sb to do sth /ɜːdʒ/ [C2] (v): thúc giục ai làm gì
total fertility rate (TFR) /ˈtəʊ.təl fəˈtɪl.ə.ti reɪt/ (n): tổng tỷ suất sinh
and vice versa /ˌvaɪs ˈvɜː.sə/ [C1] (expression): và ngược lại
inherent /ɪnˈher.ənt/ [C2] (adj): vốn có, vốn dĩ đã vậy
perception /pəˈsep.ʃən/ [C2] (n): nhận thức
white-collar worker /ˌwaɪtˈkɒl.ər ˈwɜː.kər/ (n): nhân viên văn phòng
ever after (adv): kể từ đó về sau
census /ˈsen.səs/ (n): điều tra số liệu
prior /praɪər/ [C1] (adv, adj): trước
notably /ˈnəʊ.tə.bli/ [C1] (adv): đáng chú ý
steer /stɪər/ [B2] (v): chỉ đạo
social safety net /ˈsəʊ.ʃəl ˈseɪf.ti ˌnet/ (n): mạng lưới an sinh xã hội
cohabit /kəʊˈhæb.ɪt/ (v): chung sống như vợ chồng (nhưng chưa/không kết hôn)
integration /ˌɪn·təˈɡreɪ·ʃən/ [C1] (n): sự hòa nhập
appreciate /əˈpriː.ʃi.eɪt/ [B2] (v): đánh giá cao
get bogged down (expression): bị vướng bận, bị cản trở
accustomed to sth /əˈkʌs.təmd/ [C1] (adj): quen với việc gì
relish /ˈrel.ɪʃ/ [C2] (v): thưởng thức, tận hưởng cái gì
call on sb to do sth (v): kêu gọi ai đó làm gì
concur /kənˈkɜːr/ (v): đồng tình
regardless of /rɪˈɡɑːd.ləs/ [C1] (pre): bất kể, bất chấp điều gì
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