Although America has slowly shifted in its attitudes toward divorce over recent decades, many Vietnamese-American communities still consider the dissolution of marriage taboo. Younger generations may express disagreement when it comes to cultural views on this life chapter; however, there are many California residents who have conflicting views in regard to divorce. What, exactly, does a marriage separation mean for Asian Americans today?
The Washington Post considers the aforementioned question in an article about divorce rates and their cultural significance, first pointing out that many communities continue to struggle with society’s changing attitudes. In some cultures, divorce is entirely taboo, and even the discussion of marital issues has been stigmatized. And while divorce rates for Asian Americans remains low, The Post argues that the numbers could reflect this stigma. Another factor involves that of arranged marriage, which The Post states is still relatively common. In addition, families strongly discourage children from breaking these marriages. While some laud arranged marriages, others claim that they have resulted in an “invisible divorce” — a phenomena that describes the difficult state of some arranged marriages.
There may be a debate surrounding Asian American taboos and modern views toward divorce, but many may be curious about the traditional roots altogether. Vietnam Culture explains that such traditional marriage values have roots in Confucian thought. From the start, Vietnamese culture has placed immense importance in family ties, including those between spouses. Vietnam Culture notes that, while legal, divorce is not very common. Some families urge their children to remain in a marriage and to endure the hardships. Views toward marriage and divorce may be different from culture to culture — and even from household to household — but it is clear that American attitudes toward these topics are changing.