Yu Feng: China’s unorthodox ‘marriage counsellor’ has tried to get 10,000 husbands to dump mistresses and return to wives
YU FENG, 45, dubbed the ‘mistress discourager’ by mainland media, tells LAURA ZHOU how he helps clients – mainly desperate wives – by persuading husbands with mistresses to stay with their wives and families
What do you think of marriage?
I am married, with two children. I believe marriage should be happy and an essential part of life – that everyone should be married.
Some people complain that marriage is a burden, but I don’t agree: if you take enough care you won’t face such difficulties.
I spend two thirds of each month on my job, which involves going away on business trips. My wife does not complain; she said I am saving other people’s marriages ... she fully understands how difficult my job is.
Communication, mutual respect and understanding are three key things for maintaining a happy marriage. I won’t cheat on my wife because I have enough communication and understanding with my wife – and that’s important.
How did you start doing this job as a unorthodox ‘marriage counsellor’?
I studied psychology at university. In the 1990s an increasing number of people started to go into business for themselves; I was one of them.
I left my hometown in Jiangsu province and moved to Shenzhen, where I started a counselling workshop with a friend. At that time, people were shy about telling strangers about problems in their relationship.
Around 2005 to 2006, I found there were an increasing number of cases of wives complaining about their husbands being involved in one-night stands with other women. People were earning more money and some from rural areas were becoming dissatisfied with their existing emotional lives – especially men that had left families behind to work in the cities; these husbands began to look for distractions in clubs and bars, which led to extramarital affairs.
Since 2009 I have seen a dramatic rise in extramarital affairs, with 80 per cent involving husbands finding mistresses.
What does your company do?
Jiali Jiawai, or Inside Home and Outside Home Marriage Consultancy, based in the city of Chongqing, employs more than 30 people, who offer services to people across the country.
We have up to 300 inquiries on our website every day: most focus on extramarital affairs.
We have three teams – counsellors, investigators, who carry out inquiries to ensure the authenticity of the claims made against a spouse, assess cases and analyse all collected information – and social workers, who talk to mistresses and family members.
How much does your firm charge?
For the consultancy fee, we charge 1,200 yuan (HK$1,440) to 1,500 yuan per hour, and each case with mistresses costs not less than 100,000 yuan, but the final total depends on our workload and the difficulties of each case.
There are three kinds of cases we never accept – those that cannot be saved, involve illegal marriages, or mistresses that want to replace a wife. That is our bottom-line.
Most of my clients’ husbands are men who are very successful in business, or those with high social status. I have handled more than 10,000 such cases up to now.
What affect do mistresses have on typical Chinese families?
An affair can easily destroy a family’s happiness and the existence of a mistress can badly affect children and parents; sometimes, in extreme cases, it can lead to violence – both physical or emotional, if husband becomes angry, for example, with how his wife has responded, On the other hand, some pretend that nothing has happened. just to maintain the existing status quo. But gradually, if nothing improves, the family falls apart.
What you can do to help these families?
First we try to find out the reasons why a husband has a mistress, so precautions can be taken.
Then we increase communication between the troubled couple: any relationship can turn bad if people don’t talk.
Thirdly, we try to persuade the mistress to leave the husband. At the start, most mistresses refused to see us, but we use lawful ways to make sure we meet her – get her to discuss her own emotions, upbringing, and views on the affair. Sometimes they ask for our help as they are also suffering.
We also hold public talks and work with local communities and women’s groups to help wives facing such problems.
Can you tell us about one case?
We once helped a wife whose husband was having an affair with the daughter of a business partner. The daughter was more than 10 years younger than him, but refused to stop seeing him.
She moved to Hainan, opened a hostel, and the husband travelled there regularly. So my colleague and I went to Hainan as tourists. We invited her to dine with us, and let her overhear a phone call from “my cousin” who had a troubled love life because she was seeing a married man.
I told “my cousin” the man was lying to her and all the bad things about him ... the woman then started to consider her situation ... three months later the husband returned to his family.
Do you think it is right or wrong for husbands to have mistresses?
Mistresses aren’t all bad. In most cases they are young and impressionable women deceived by men making big promises, so they dream of a better life.
China is experiencing rapid social and economic changes; people’s values about marriage are changing, too. We must guide mistresses and married couples, to teach them how to change such inappropriate behaviour.