Matchmaking and the dying Chinese art of managing expectations
Sun Ronghua’s once-respected skills are in less demand over the holidays as people look for spouses on their own
The Lunar New Year used to be the busiest time of the year for Sun Ronghua but now her management skills – honed over four decades in her trade – are in little demand in rural northern China.
Sun is a matchmaker in Lulong county, Hebei province, and has dozens of successful matches to her name, according to The Beijing News.
With families coming together, the festive season was once a chance for parents to find spouses for their eligible children but Sun’s role became largely ceremonial as sons and daughters began deciding on their own partners, the report said.
“People now find their own spouses, and don’t need me to mediate any more,” said Sun, in her sixties.
Sun first became known in her area by matching a man who had one kidney removed and a woman with asthma, solving a long-running problem for the two families.
She said the art of matchmaking was largely about managing expectations, and in the past the families involved had to make a decision in one day.
The first meeting would last 20 minutes at most and the families would ask each other how much each person made and what they did for a living.
“The bride’s family would also want the groom’s side to be slightly better off,” Sun was quoted as saying.
“If the groom’s family couldn’t afford the bride price, I’d try to close the gap.”
But now even the practice of the bride price is waning and some families are no longer demanding payment for their marriageable daughters.