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Posts: 194

Shifu

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Q: Are foreigners expected to pay a "dowry" to Chinese wife's family?

By dowry I mean money. Is the foreign husband expected to give the wife's parents a lump sum of money or take care of them financially in the longrun? I'm new to China and hoping to get married to a local woman so just wondering what I'm letting myself in for.

12 years 11 weeks ago in  Culture - China

 
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My girl friend says I must pay dowry to her mother. Girl friend has a long way to go before that will happen. Mother also.

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12 years 11 weeks ago
 
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I didn't pay any sort of dowry

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12 years 11 weeks ago
 
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Shifu

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Depends.

If the wife's family i rich, they may pay you dowry...

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12 years 11 weeks ago
 
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My girl friend says I must pay dowry to her mother. Girl friend has a long way to go before that will happen. Mother also.

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12 years 11 weeks ago
 
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It is customary in China for the groom (or his family) to pay a dowry to the bride's parents to "compensate" them for the "loss" of their daughter after the marriage takes place, since in China, tradition indicates that the Lady will leave her family and join her husband's family after marriage.

This is normally done on first marriages, not really required if Lady is divorced or a widower.  But some take advantage of the tradition, and since they think all foreigners are rich, seek a second dowry for a second marriage.

The amount involved is totally negotiable between the family members involved, and / or a matchmaker if used.  It is not a set in stone amount, and fluctuates depending on the Lady's income, her financial help if any to her paternal household, and the financial situation of the groom.  In the cases I am familiar with, it has fluctuated between 5,000 and 10,000 Rmb,  In many instances, the initial amount was set a lot higher, but thru negotiations was brought down to more reasonable levels,  And as mentioned before, even if asked, there is no need to pay if it is a second or third marriage for the lady, since her parents were already compensated the first time around.

 

What many foreigners do not know is, that according to the same tradition, the bride's family is also supposed to send "gifts" to the groom, in the form of, for example, of baskets of fruits, cookies and some wine "spirits", and maybe linen, and other household goods.  So, if you are requested to pay a dowry, also remember you are supposed to get one too.

 

In modern China today, this custom is beginning to be ignored by many couples in city environments, while in the country side is still holding its ground.

 

And as a parting remark, if you pay dowry or not, in China, when you marry a Lady, you just do not marry her, you do marry into a "family unit", and as such, become responsible with your now wife for the economic well being of her family, especially her parents at old age, as stated by their Laws and their Constitution.  So, if you pay a dowry or not, that will not exempt you to have to support her parents financially later on.

PS: I posted on the Forum side a write up on "Understanding the concept of "family" in China", which could be of interest to you before you decide to commit to a relationship.

TedDBayer:

I was told 60,000 RMB

12 years 11 weeks ago
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12 years 11 weeks ago
 
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here is a good way to approach it. date her love her and when it comes time to marry , if they ask for a dowry tell them goodbye. 

this is 2012 , leave barbaric practices back in the stone ages. there are no excuses. someone who truly loves you for you and not your bank account  will not hold you to this nonsensical practice.

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12 years 11 weeks ago
 
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Shifu

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I agree with crimo, I was first told to pay for the building of a new home and 60K for the parents. I walked out and said, that would make your daughter one of the highest paid prostitutes in China. A bar prostitute would be better. In the end we settled for about 20k and redecorating their home. It still irks me a bit even if it is said to be tradition

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12 years 11 weeks ago
 
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Actually the dowry conversation didn't come up at all. However, I'm spending more money now than at any other period in my life. Did I pay a dowry? Nope, but maybe it would've been cheaper.

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Didn't pay a dowry for my wife.  But, I know others that have.  Up to and including building a 3 story (US$100,000) home for one girl's parents.  

 

The guy got a minor allowance by having the home in his name, but the parents were given a non-transferable 15-year US$0 lease.

 

For a lot of girls, it is a matter of face concerning how big their dowry is.  It is the same way for the parents.  In most cases a large portion of the dowry is given back in the form of gifts, a car or a house depending on the deal made and how cool the parents are.

 

The dowry rules may seem old fashioned, but lets not forget that we are in their sandbox and we need to play by their rules or they will not let up play with their toys.

 

If your bride to be is taking her parents side on a huge dowry, then it is probably best to tell her the deal is off and she should go find another guy.  Most girls will take their future husbands side and try to get the best, most reasonable deal possible.

crimochina:

there are women all over china whose families dont practice this . you have thailand , taiwen what's so special with a chinese woman that a man should pay 100k us for the privilege of taking care of her, giving the grand kids a better life in a better country,  and giving her an opportunity to make up to 10X more money with better benefits and work environment. she could send 15k us back to take care of her folks for all i care. but i will always draw the line at buying an actual person. (no problem renting) what if she divorces the dude after she gets her citizenship? do they get a refund? but hey to each his own. make your money and spend it the way you see fit. (has anyone asked to buy the sister as well ? sort of like a buy one get the other half off)  

12 years 11 weeks ago
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12 years 11 weeks ago
 
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Minor Official

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My wife's family hasn't expected anything of me whatsoever, and usually it's them who give us money for things. But I would be glad to help them if they ever needed help with anything, they are family after all.

 

If a woman's parents demand money from you to marry her, best avoid having anything to do with this family. It's not healthy, and though toxic family relationships are still common in China, the majority of young people I've met don't want it to continue, so better not to pander to it thinking it's polite to follow backwards old traditions that have no place in mondern society.

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2 years 28 weeks ago
 
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My girlfriend said in her province it's about 20000! So much. But no way will i pay that. That's half my savings!

StMattTD:

20000 seems extremely cheap for a dowry in China. Are you sure she didn't mean 200000? If you don't even have 40000 in savings then you probably shouldn't be getting married in the first place!

2 years 28 weeks ago
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jasoneyer:

Yes You are right. I meant 200000

2 years 27 weeks ago
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2 years 28 weeks ago
 
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General

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My wife said it varied by provence too. If the parents were from Shanghai it would be more than Chongqing - in which I gave 20000. They did give us a good wedding gift, they're saving money for a mortgage deposit for us and they always look after us when we visit. It's kind of a "give a little, get a little" relationship with us.

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2 years 28 weeks ago
 
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It depends from where she is from. Generally people in the towns and smaller, more traditional places will expect this. I wouldn't do it though.

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2 years 27 weeks ago
 
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