Colonel Amiri insists to be called colonel by friends and family. Many still does not know his first name and just use the term Colonel to refer tohim. Retired about 8 years ago from Iranian Armed forces, he works as a consoler for a private company. He lived with his wife and two daughters in a military compound before he retires.
Recently the Amiri`s Family has under gone a huge cultural dilemma when the youngest daughter of the family, Mona told her parents that she has met someone on the internet who has proposed to her. "It was totally un acceptable for my parents, since they have traditional view towards the marriage." says Mona.
Mona is a graduate student of political science and a successful researcher in school. she mentions," I was mainly focused on my studies and researches and at the side I was studying English." Therefore as recommended by her English tutor, she joined a group of online Iranian students who exercised English using chat. She says, "it was nothing at first. I considered him as one of my classmates; he was just a Cyber classmate."
Mona`s older sister, Samaneh got married 5 years ago to son of his father`s colleague from the military. It was an arranged marriage. That is the groom`s family approached the bride family and propose for their son.
Arranged marriages are still practiced in Iran. There is no reliable statistic about arranged and non-arranged marriages in Iran, but Dr J.Shamsi an Iranian psychiatrist believes that still more than 60 present of the marriages throughout the country are arranged.
In the traditional way of arranged marriage, the groom`s family would propose to the bride`s family and after one or two meetings they decide if the couple are able to get married.
Although in the recent years the tradition has gone under practical changes and parents allow their children to be the final decision makers.
"my family is a total tradition family. My father had his military discipline at home too." Says Mona, "Samaneh`s husband family first contacted my mother. My brother in law`s mom called my mom and said that they want to set a visit to our house as an all women party. There they proposed to my mom that they want my sister to be their daughter in law." she adds.
The first few proposal ceremonies are very official. In some of these gatherings the men are not present and usually it takes a while till actually the young couple are able to talk to each other privately. As I mentioned, the more open mind families allow their children to be the final decision makers, although it seems that there are still total arranged marriages being practiced throughout the country.
"It was a challenge for me and also for my family. I could understand them. My older sister had gotten married through the method that they like and recognize the best and then i came in and told them that I want to get married to an internet person. There is a huge misjudgement bout people who get to know each other over internet and especially if they decide to get married." Mona explains.
the young man from the internet is a successful student too. he had les problems to convince his family into his decision to marry Mona. After a month of chatting which was supposed to be English exercise, he took the first step to ask her out on a date. "He was very nice and caring, with a great knowledge of English language. Although I did not hesitate to say No to his offer. Then he insisted and tried to convince me." says Mona. He was successful to persuade Mona to go out and gradually they had regular meetings in a decent coffee shop in Tehran. one thing led to another, the young couple fell in love.
"Many families especially the girls family disagree the internet marriage." says doctor Shamsi. "There is where the problem begins"
As doctor Shamsi explains, according to Iranian law, permission of father or a male legal guardian of women and girls is required for legalization of marriage in a marriage notarize office. in the absence of such permission, or if the parents of the girl express their disagreement with the marriage, the court rules about the decision. The court relies on a legal interview done by a trusted psychiatrist. he says," i do my best to help the couples."
Fortunately for Mona, she did not have to go through such a problematic system. She was able to convince her parents into an agreement. "I knew that they disagree, so i tried my best to show them that he (my fiancé now) is not just an anonymous person from the internet. First I explained everything about him to my sister and brother in law and asked them to be my lobbyists. Then with their help and my own efforts, I was able to convince my father to meet my future husband. That went very good! My father actually liked him after he got to know him! Parents usually think that people from the internet are a bunch of losers and liars. My fiancé is none of those!" she says.
After a while, Mona and her fiancé was able to get engaged. They decided to postpone their marriage after her graduation. They came a hard way in a traditional society that is conflicting with the new means.