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Marriage in Iranian culture is viewed not only as the sole socially acceptable pathway to sexual access, but also as a permanent commitment to lifelong companionship, bonding not only the married couples, but also their families (Shapurian and Hojat 1985).

In Iranian culture, procreation is a primary goal of marriage. Some Iranians consider infertility an adequate justification for divorce. It has been reported that about 2 percent of all divorces in Iran occur because one spouse is unable to have children (Aghajanian 1986). The choice of a spouse in traditional families is often made or supervised by parents and older family members. Even in modern families, parental approval of the prospective spouse is an important factor.

Men and women each have marital pledges. Marital undertakings by the man include a bride-price sheer bahaa (literally milk price, or an agreed upon money or gift given to the bride's family), and mahri-eh (an agreed-upon sum of money, gold coins or property that women are entitled to receive at any time after marriage; more often, it is a source of financial security for married women in case of divorce or widowhood). Also, the groom's family pays the expenses for the marriage reception and ceremony. In return, the girl's family provides the dowry (jehizi-eh), which usually includes basic household items (e.g., rugs, bedding, furniture, cookware) needed by the newly wed couple to start their new lives in their new home.

In the rapidly urbanizing contemporary Iranian society, however, most people view the bride-price as demeaning to women (Afkhami 1994; Haeri 1994), although mahri-eh and jehizi-eh in some cases have become important status symbols. In more educated intellectual and religious families, these two customs are also considered demeaning and indicative of a lack of trust between the bride and the groom and their families. In these families, often spiritually valuable but inexpensive items such as a volume of the holy Qur'an are exchanged instead of mahri-eh, and the bride and groom mutually agree to share the expenses for purchasing the jehizi-eh.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaMarriage: Cultural AspectsIran - Marriage, Endogamy And Polygamy, Arranged Marriages, Temporary Marriage (sigheh), The Family, Premarital Sex And Extramarital Relationships