Centre aims to stop marriage wreckers in China

Centre aims to stop marriage wreckers in China

For many marriages broken by extramarital affairs, Yu Feng has provided a sweet remedy.

The psychological consultant, 45, has talked more than 200 mistresses out of meddling in others' lives since he set up the Chongqing Jialijawai Marriage and Family Counseling and Service Center in Chongqing in 2012.

The centre, which has more than 100 staff members, including lawyers, marriage analysts and psychologists, specializes in fighting mistresses.

Yu embarked on his psychological consulting career in 2000 when he met Shu Xin, a columnist specialising in marital issues who received a pile of readers' letters about divorce every day.

Shu believed a business related to marriage counseling would have great market potential and persuaded Yu to start a centre in Shanghai that year.

In 2001, Yu and Shu managed to persuade a mistress to stay away from a Taiwan businessman and received 10,000 yuan (S$2,128) in payment.

The money convinced Yu of the potential profits of the business. Given that there was no such business in Chongqing, he chose to move to the city to break ground.

Official statistics from the Chongqing Civil Affairs Bureau show the divorce rate this year at 41.7 per cent - more than double the 20 per cent in 2010. Yu estimates that more than half of all divorces have their roots in "a third-party intervention", or extramarital affair.

"The business is lucrative, but the reason I engaged in it is more than just profits. I want to save broken families," Yu said. "Couples are not the only ones affected. Their innocent children are as well."

Most extramarital affairs involve a wealthy middle-aged man and a young, single mistress, Yu said.

But it's not always a story of grasping women. Men can initiate problems in a marriage as well, he said.

Separating a mistress from a family can be a complex process and may last from several months to a year, Yu said, although it's comparatively easy to resolve a case in which the mistress cares mostly about money. Team members negotiate a "separation fee" and encourage the mistress to look for a normal relationship.

Cases involving a mistress who has fallen in love are tougher, Yu said.

In one case, a male client came to Yu with his wife because the mistress had threatened to damage the family, and the husband didn't want that to happen.

"The couple, who were initially distant from one another, left behind the disharmony caused by the affair and formed an alliance to fight the mistress. They thought they might be hurt by the crazy lover," Yu said.

His team approached the mistress and befriended her.

"Our task was to guide the mistress away from her dangerous direction. Currently, our staff members have become her friends and will counsel her to leave the couple alone," Yu said.

The centre's psychologists charge 500 yuan per hour, so a case that takes months or a year can run up a large fee.

"Despite the cost, what we do is highly necessary. Such cases are seldom solved properly in the courts, and extramarital affairs may lead to terrible situations, including mistresses committing suicide and wives paying killers to terminate mistresses," Yu said.

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