A group of male nurses found it so difficult to win the support of their prospective parents-in-law that they resorted to tricks to gain their approval.
Among the 15 male nurses employed by the Hefei First Hospital Group, 13 are married, and at least 11 of them are married to college classmates, according to Yang Bin, a male nurse from the Hefei Binhu Hospital, in the capital of Anhui province.
"Nursing is often considered not to be a good job for men, so we all faced opposition from our prospective parents-in-law," he said.
When Yang worked at a hospital in Shanghai from 2007 to 2011, he invited his girlfriend's father to dinner, and also invited his boss and a number of colleagues.
"During the dinner, the father learned from my colleagues that I was a good man and that nursing is not as bad a job as he had imagined," Yang said.
Wu Xufeng, a male nurse in the intensive care unit at the Hefei Binhu Hospital, recalled the first time he met his mother-in-law.
She was running a clothes store, so one day Wu visited the store and pretended to be a customer. He behaved very properly, discussed some of the items for sale and generally made a good impression.
After Wu had left, his girlfriend went to her mother and told her who the young man was.
Wu said the informal meeting boosted his confidence for a formal meeting with his girlfriend's mother later on.
Li Shen, who in 2005 became the first male nurse to be employed at the Hefei First Hospital Group, said he had been troubled by the strong opposition displayed by his parents-in-law for the first couple of years.
"I realized that I would not able to persuade them, so I chose to avoid meeting them. Years later, when they realized their unmarried daughter wasn't getting any younger and there was no way to break us up, they just had to accept me," he said.
"I made the choice (not to meet them) because I had no choice."
Zhang Jianjian, a male nurse who has experienced similar embarrassment, said the perceived low status of men in the profession often causes problems.
"If nursing wasn't considered a low-level job for men, it would be easier for us to get along with the parents of our wives and girlfriends," he said.