Arranged marriages are no longer common in Iran. Many of today’s Iranian women are very well educated and make up a significant portion of the country’s work force. The women can choose their husbands and vice versa and marriage often takes place later in life. But there is more… Iran has officially adopted the concept of a “temporary marriage”.

This might seem very foreign and strange to us but when our guide explained the reasoning behind it, it seems to be a good “institution.” So, in short, here is how it works: A temporary marriage is a marriage with a mutually agreed upon expiration date and a minimum commitment of three months. Both parties appear in front of a clergy and, in front of witnesses, agree to stay together for a certain amount of time. During this time the husband will provide for the wife and her children (if necessary). Once the marriage has expired the two parties can split without any financial obligations.

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Of course the marriage can also be extended if all goes well. The temporary marriage is not something that is entered into by young couples but rather by older divorced or widowed men and women. Who would have thought! Of all places…