|ZanAmu 1998: Foreign Wives of Iranians - Issues & Experiences of 1998|
Taking the Best and Booting the Rest
The Iranian culture is rich in history, replete with beautiful customs,
stories, and arts and a glorious heritage our children may all be proud of.
The American culture, while rather young in comparison, offers a diversity,
joi de vive and light of hope which energizes and challenges its citizens in
the spirit of invention.
We, as parents, have the unique opportunity of picking and choosing the best
from both cultures and incorporating them into the traditions of our own
familiy units. We can reap from the macro-societies which are Iran and America
and utilize these bountiful harvests in the micro sphere of our own homes.
I have found the most successful Iranian-American families, are those who have
blended the attentions and generosity of the Iranian family with the
independence and perseverence of the American family.
I have found the husbands,wives and children of Iranian -American families who
have met the challenge of holding both languages (Farsi and English) dear,
able to cross a bridge which oft times seems uncrossable without the language
links to culture.
I have found an acceptance of families by both sides to be of paramount
importance in establishing the family as a whole. No one has to agree or
relinquish all of their own beliefs to satisfy another. All of us MUST
and respect the beliefs of each other to be whole and healthy. If there are
individuals among the group who make a harmonious family life impossible, they
must be worked around. What is important is to always accept the spirit of
compromise and look for the good.
Please give us your thoughts and experiences which have enabled or prevented
you from being a whole and healthy Iranian-American family. Maybe, we can
learn from each others victories and defeats.
Write us at
(Please let us know if you don't want your email or name to be included in your posting.)
We have a very happy family despite his family's early objections
I recently came across your web-site and I was thrilled. I have been married
to an Iranain man for 15 years. We've been together for twenty years. As
you can see we dated five years before marrying mainly because of objections
from his family in Iran. I had met one sister briefly but the remainder of
the family had never met me. They were judging me based on what they heard
from the one sister and what they thought they knew about American women.
Finally we married and lo and behold the family started to arrive. That's
when all the trouble started. They were literally determined to break us up.
But because our love was so deep for each other this was not possible. We
had some very difficult times but because of our commitment to ourseleves and
now our three beautiful children we are a very happy family. Regarding my
in-laws who are here; most we don't have any contact with and the one we do
have contact with we limit those interactions. We speak to a few who still
live in Iran. It's very upsetting that they were unable to accept my
husbands' choice. We were willing to forget everthing years ago but they
were unwilling so now we have formed our own family and are very happy. The
children are being exposed to both cultures, religions and languages. They
truly are well-rounded individuals who are proud of both heritages. They got
the best of both worlds. Thaks again for this web-site.
Salam - I am a Mexican girl in love with an Iranian man...
I'm a Mexican girl how has in her heart the life, yes an Iranian man, I
love him, but I feel bad because he says that he is not ready for a
relationship. He has 30 years old and I'm 28.
I told him that I will wait all the time that he needs, but I think the big
problem is that right now he is in Canada and I'm in Mexico. I'm planning
to move my residence to Canada, but he say that he can permit that I leave
all that I have here for him. I want to learn his language, Farsi or
Turkish do you know a web where I can learn these languages?
I know that he loves me, but I don't understand what happen with him; we
were living together for 4 months.
What can I do?.
Long distance relationships always require a bit more effort, but, what I
read from your letter is something more. Please don't move or make any major
change, until, you sit down and have a heart to heart with your 'love'.
Listen to his words and directly ask him to respond or elucidate his
position. (i.e." I
love him, but I feel bad because he says that he is not ready for a
relationship.") It makes sense, that having lived with someone, you, have
assumed a greater degree of involvement than he is reciprocating. Don't hurt
yourself more, by not addressing all issues forthrightly and immediately, and
hearing what he says, not what you want to hear.
Becky, this is true of any relationship, Iranian or not...be careful, be true
to yourself and be honest and open on all points.
I wish you peace, health and love. Sometimes we can find all of those things
where we least expect them.
His family & culture could end our relationship
My name is Rachel I live in Essex England, my boyfriend is from Tehran and
lives in London. We are getting very close but he is worried that his mum
his culture will end the relationship, which I do not want to happen. I am
trying very hard to find somewhere to learn the language and understand the
culture so I can feel we may have a chance to stay together. I would be
grateful if anyone could help me.
, Rachel Hills
The first step toward any successful relationship is the desire to have one.
There are many questions and concerns regarding the formation of all new
relationships, and cross-cultural relationships only add to issues needing
I have been married to an Iranian man for many, many years, and from personal
experience, I can assue you, that, where there is a will, there is a way.
Talk with your love, and get his views, discuss concerns, put everything on
the table, so to speak. That is the only way you can feasibly gear yourself
toward any erstwhile direction.
There are many sites offering much info, and www.farsinet.com is the best
starting point I can think of.
Good luck to you and yours, and...Salamat Bosheed. - ZanAmu
A marriage that is complete
I am new to this web-site, but find it most interesting. I am American
who has been married 20 years to a wonderful, devoted and sincere
Iranian. We were both young in college in we met, and many of his
friends were advocating just finding a American to marry because of the
difficult issues that were before him at that time. The new regime that
was taking place, loss of income to go to school full-time, and the
negativity that surrounded much of the Iranian community. But, as most
young people are, we were stubborn and were not going to listen to these
so called friends and were marrying out of love 6 months after we met.
We are now the parents of 3 beautiful children, and our life is
fulfilled beyond anyone's dreams. I have to say I am more in love with
my husband now than I was when we got married and will soon be
exchanging our marriage vows before our children and some close
friends. I think in ANY marriage you need commitment( because even in
the best of times, there will be times when you feel you want to throw
in the towel), humor, empathy and communication. We laugh together,( he
has a great sense of humor) and we respect each other completely. My
only regret is that I have never seen any of his family. He left Iran
in 1978 and we are hoping a visit will happen either here or there. He
is from Bandar Bushire and does not have family in the states. We live
in CA. and my family is from the mid-west. Our family has remained
strong because we support each other and are there for each other. But
with all humans, there will be good and bad in all society. Was
fortunate to get a good one.
- J. K. Rajabpour
My relationship with the love of my life...
My relationship with the love of my life has been blessed with much
love, hapiness,tolerance and understanding. He has been the source of my
love for life, inspiration and strength. Through him, I have seen and
experienced Persian customs and traditions. I have come to appreciate
Persian hospitality, art and literature and the simplicity of its
people. I believe that there should be more mixed marriages to develop
the kind of love and understanding that I now have for Iran, Iranians
He has made me beautiful within and people have noticed the difference
in me. As far as career is concerned, Ive never heard a discouraging
word from him. Neither have I heard him laugh at any of the times I felt
stupid and lost. Im indeed blessed.
I must admit that before we met, I 've thought of Iranian men as being
difficult, self-centred, egoistic, etc. But I was wrong in many ( if not
all) ways. In fact, I never dreamt that I'd fall in love with an
Iranian. Besides, when we started courting, my friends did not even
think it'll last. Well, we were a 'team' then and still are now. And
it's been seven beautiful years from the day I first laid eyes on him
until now. I cannot imagine my life without him. - N. G.
Married to an Iranian who is a hard worker and a good father.
I have stumbled on your site while surfing for some news sites for my
husband. My husband is from Iran and we married after meeting and
knowing each other for 5 weeks, that was 19 yrs ago. We have 4 children
from 3 to 16 yrs old. My husband speaks flawless English and the only
time we hear him speak his native tongue is when he calls home to speak
to his mother. He is very much American and neither the kids or I speak
Farsi. We attend a Catholic church off and on when we can find the time
in this busy world (I am a nurse that works nights). I have met his
parents once when they came to visit some 10 yrs ago and while they did
not speak English they were very polite. I have to laugh about the
remarks about rice as it is my husband that burns rice every time while
I make perfect rice. My husband is a successful manager in the food and
beverage industry and has done quite well in this country.I find the
letters from the other women very interesting and enjoyed your site.
Just thought I would share with you my marriage to an Iranian who is a
hard worker, and a good father.
Can I Trust Him??
I am a lady that lives in Canada, french and english background, that
has fallen in love with a man from iran, he lives in Canada now, I donot
live close to him, but I see him when I travel in his area. I have a
concern, I donot know the culture that well, I have heard that not to
trust these men, I am very frustrated for he is also very distant in
telling me anything about his family etc...I am wondering this, if this
man is married and if in this culture if he can also have other
relationships while being married, he claims he is not, but I find I
cannot phone his home, he claims that he lives with his brother, I donot
know if I should trust all of this. He has talked with my mother and
claims he wants to marry me, and I must admit, we get along
exceptionally well, and I have fallen in love with him, please help me a
bit about this culture and help me understand if these men can be
trusted as well, please I need some help...
He is having a hard time accepting my past...
Hi, what a piece of luck to have found your website! It was wonderfully
enpowering to know that you are not alone in your thoughts or feelings.
I am hoping to receive some insight into a sensitive issue which I am
currently dealing with. I am 28 years old, and have a wonderful
relationship with a Persian man. My Persian boyfriend had always
imagined that he may one day meet and marry a girl who was still a
virgin. This is of importance to him culturally, and he also feels that
his faith demands it. He has however, met me! And I have unfortunately
had previous boyfriends prior to meeting him. He understands that my
previous relationships have no bearings on my feelings for him, but he
cannot seem to understand how I could have loved someone, and not still
be with that person. I would appreciate any advice on this. I am at a
loss as to what to do. I think that it is the only obstacle in our
relationship, and it is one that I cannot correct. Susie
Would it be possible for you to remove the email link from my posting?
You can leave my message on the Issues and Experiences page, but just
remove the link. I am being inundated with emails!! So leave it up there
so that gals know they are not alone. Just remove the email link!
Maybe I should give an update? He has come to realize that our cultures
are different, but our hearts are similar. And that who I am is a direct
result of my past, and he likes who I am so he wouldn't want to change
me. Each person is a unique individual, created by the series of events
that has formed their life. No two people can compare or critisise
another, expecially when their life experience has been completely
different. So he has decided that to love me is to love all of me,
including my past. And that it is not worth ending our relationship
over as he values all of the other aspects of who I am.
So you see, resolutions can be made between the east and west!
He's Muslim, I'm Christian, How do you reconcile this??
Hi, I enjoyed visiting your website. And reading all the positive stories. I'm
considering to one day marry my persian boyfriend but I have a question. He's
muslim, I'm christian how do you reconcile this, how do you raise the kids???
Any suggestions or anecdotal stories appreciated. Thanks,
Thank you for bringing up this very important question.
I guess, the answer to your question is dependent on your own spirituality and the
importance of your faith to you. And of course, how important is his religion to him
and how much he practices it.
I know of at least 3 couples (my husband & I included) who didn't care
much about any religion when they got married. But over years, the
question of faith keeps coming up. As we have grown older, we have become
more spiritual ourselves. I now go to church once a while and take the
whole family for Christmas, but that's it. He has not objected (so far)
to our children's involvement in Church activities, I guess because
he has seen good results and we don't have much alternatives. - Linda
Great Website for young adults as well as parents
Hi/Salam, My name is sooki. I was reading your letters and thought how wonderful
this was and also how much this is so in need for this type of an "outlet" for
non-persians married to persians who are male or female. But most needed is
such a site for young adults who are from "mixed-race" parents. Being a teen
with multicultural background is great, but challenging also. I think this
will serve a great need for the young adults and maybe good for the parents of
these kids to listen to other kids with similar challenges. please respond.
I know many Iranian men who aren't
particular about foods or dating and who are faithful to their wives and
What an interesting web site. I myself am actually an Iranian/American
woman who just married a very Iranian man. I was born in Iran, my parents
are Iranian, but I grew up in the States. Since being with my husband, I
have 're-learned' alot of the Iranian culture and appreciate it in many
ways. I also appreciate the American culture in many ways and, like others
have said, takes patience and dedication to integrate the best of the two.
Some of the ladies have complained about stereotypes that their families
have towards their husbands and some of you (like the woman whose boyfriend
cheated on her several times) seem to maybe have stereotypes of your own.
I don't think it is fair to stereotype any person. Yes there may be
particular characteristics that prevail among IRanian men, but one should
always leave room for individual character and personality. By stereotyping,
you not only rob that person of his individuality, but you rob yourself of
having a meaningful relationship with a unique individual. Each man is
unique, just because he cheats on you, or doesn't like his daughter to
date, or prefers certain foods, or whatever doesn't necessarily have
to do with the fact he is Iranian. I've known many Iranian men who aren't
particular about foods or dating and who are faithful to their wives and
girlfriends. Iranian men come in all ranges.
It particularly annoys me when people (Americans) sensationalize the
atrocities that occur in Iran relating to women and children. The only
reply I have for these people is just read your national paper or listen
to your news broadcasts for one week. When you've heard enough about beaten
wives, mothers drowning their children or throwing new-borns
into dumpsters, children killing children, men raping 11 year old girls,
then you might actually appreciate the IRanian culture (or ANY other culture
for that matter). Again, people are people everywhere. People everywhere
love and laugh, hurt, cry, kill and destroy. The cultural differences just
makes it more interesting. Ethno-centricity (exalting your own culture above
others) is just another form of prejudice that blinds people and narrows
their thinking as well as their lives.
It seems that most of the women have appreciated the multi-cultures they
have in their lives. I agree that it does make our lives richer and fuller
in many ways. And I agree that the challanges we face are not unlike any
other same race marriage. K. A.
I find that American/Iranian couples have much in common with traditional American couples
I am an American married 17 years to an Iranian man who has since become an American citizen.
We have an 8 year old daughter. I met my husband at a large University. We were married in Iran at
my husband's request. Iran is an exciting country of beauty and antiquity. Being so young (20 years old)
at the time, I did not appreciate all of the wonderful places and things Iran had to offer. I was trying to
appear worldly and mature. Now, I could appreciate the kindness and hospitality that the
Iranian people I met offered me.
The few unpleasant incidents in Iran that occurred were usually related to the dress code.
My socks were not thick enough or my scarf was not properly wound about my face.One day
while outside of a large bank in Tehran that I was not admitted into (due to my dress being
deemed inappropriate), a large crowd gathered around me...
A young man asked me in English if I were an American. I smiled and said nothing.
He said that my blue eyes were the eyes of an American. Again, I smiled but gave
no reply. My husband came out of the bank at that time and asked what was going on.
The crowd disassembled and I told my husband that the young man wanted to know my country of origin.
He laughed and we walked away. That was one of the few times that I ever felt uneasy in Iran.
The first few years together in America were rather turbulent. My family felt that the marriage could
not last (being a mixed marriage). They seemed hesitant to accept my husband as a family member
although they were courteous to him at any family gatherings. My older brother and sister were married
and have subsequently both been divorced and remarried several times. My parents now love my husband
and stand behind him on all issues. They boast to friends and relatives that he is a good son to them.
My husband's parents were always supportive of our marriage and actually
came to my defense many times when we couldn't agree on things or if we were quarreling.My
mother-in-law stayed a bit too long (on one visit by herself) and I did tire of her meddling, but we agreed
that anyone from anywhere that stays too long can become a burden. Since then, both of my in-laws have
moved to the U.S. and are together and very happy. They live in their home and we live in ours. I do not think
a marriage can survive if we Americans/Iranian couples do not have our own homesteads separate from
I find that American/Iranian couples have much in common with traditional American couples.
I think a good marriage is when two people respect each other's backgrounds (with humor), and to
realize that you may have difficulty on agreeing on many cultural things but that you will rarely be bored.
I find that my husband's views on many things to be exciting and different from mine. We have traveled to
foreign lands together, and still find each other's company interesting and stimulating. I would not have
learned to speak Farsi if I hadn't met my husband. My daughter is happy and has a good relationship with
her father. She is very comfortable with her American/Iranian heritage.
I think this idea of your column for foreign women who are married to Iranian men is an excellent idea.
Thank-you for thinking of us...
What is the Procedure for Getting Married??
Dear Great Ladies,
Let me introduce myself by giving you ladies a warm hug.
I am Vaishnavee and I am an Malaysian.
Actualy, I am very happy to find this web-site. I didn't know who to
ask as I badly need help. Let me get straight to the point.
My fiance's name is Mehdi and we plan to get married very
soon. The only problem is that we both don't know the procedures.
Mehdi went to the Iranian Embassy here in Malaysia but they were
telling him that it is best if we get married in Malaysia.
Again arises a small problem as I am not a Muslim by nature.
So, we both, Mehdi and I want to know what should we do.
And I also think that getting married in Malaysia takes a longer time
because the govt. doesn't give preference for that. But I must tell
you that I am very blur about this matter as I know the best place to
find out is you people because you were the same like me at one time.
I would be very glad if you could help us out.
If you have any questions about us, please do not at all hesitate to
Thank you Ladies,
My Mother-In-Law is Destrying Our Marriage
First of all, let me tell you how happy I was to find your site....It
comes at a very good time!!! My name is A. and I am Palestinian
and my husband is Iranian. We have been married for a two years now,
after dating for three years. My relationship with my husband is
wonderful, he is a wonderful man, but I am having great difficulties
with his family, especially his mother!
She does not approve of our
wedding and did everything to break us apart. I thought that after
the wedding, she will realize that our relationship is extremely
serious and that her son is very happy with me, and vice versa.
Unfortunately, she constantly creates problems for us and make
references to the fact that I am not Iranian and thus not worth
anything in her eyes!
I am Palestinian, and Arab culture is extremely
close to Iranian culture....somehow I thought that this will be easier
on her. It has come to the point where I am beginning to resent
Iranian culture as a reaction to her never-ending praising of it and
of the language (she compares it to my culture and my language and
puts mine down!!!) I am very proud of being Palestinian....my people
has and still is struggling for our heritage, land, and identity!!!!!
Putting my culture down is the worst insult anybody can give me!!!!!
I am desperate! I love my husband and I do not want to hurt him by
telling him how resentful I am towards his culture now!!!!!!! For some
reasons,Iranian culture = my mother-in-law. I am angry at myself to
let her do this to me and I know that this reaction of mine is not
logical....that's why I need your help!!!! Please help me!!!!!!!
Send me email with your advice.
Thanks a lot, A.
My Iranian Boyfriend was not faithful
Hello women, I'm a dutch girl, and I've had a bad experiance with an
Iranian man. He cheated on me during our relationship of three years, With
at least five other women. I hope to get some respond to this.
My name is Kim and My boyfriend is from Iran. We have been together
for about 8 months now and we are very happy together, but my parents
have a problem with him... Acutally they do not have the problem with
him it is where he is from.... They think that he is a great guy, but
they are still concerned about him being from Iran..... They say that
men from those countries come over here just to have children and take
them back to their countries.... I try to tell them that they have been
watching too much TV. I could see the problem if he had done something
that was harming to me, but he has done nothing but be a great boyfriend
and companion.....What can I do to get these horrible images out of my
Key to a successful bi-cultural family
I have been very happily married to an iranian man for almost 17 years. I am
not iranian nor american. I am an immigrant myself, originally from Ukraine,
and came here at the age of 14. I have learned almost a persian cultural
traditions from him, his friends and family, because I was very much
fascinated by Iranian history and cultural heritage, as well as the language.
I visited Iran several years ago with my husband and both our children. My
american friends were astonished that I was not afraid to travel there, siting
that notorious film "Not Without My Daughter". I have not seen the film, but
has heard much about it. I was, however, quite familiar with Iranian
tradition of taarof, and the kindness and the politeness of the people. I
knew how I should and should not behave there, and always firmly believed that
one should respect the culture and traditions of any country where one has to
travel. Needless to say, we have a very wonderful trip. I undersdand,
however, that other people may have different experiences.
Our children understand some of both of our languages, although, because the
prevailing language at home is English, neither child has become proficient
enough to speak fluently. I believe that our kids are very lucky to be
exposed to our cultures, that they will probably never be completely
"Americanized", which is probably a good thing. The key to a succesfull bi-
cultural family, I believe, is the full acceptance on the part of both spouses
of their respective languages, traditions, religions, etc., and allowing the
children to learn and be exposed to the same.
Teaching children culture & Farsi
Dear ZanAmu, Here are the issues important to me. M.
- Teaching children to appreciate culture
of Iran, and the Farsi language, when Daddy doesn't speak Farsi at home and
grew up as an observer, not an active participant in his parents' home.
- Trying to explain how Daddy's country has changed since he left
at the age of 17, in the 70s.
My boyfriend's sister!
My top and only issue is his family (sister's) repeated attempts to
introduce him to Iranian girls.
Thanks and I'll be interested to hear other's thoughts. L.
The secret to having a happy Iranian\American marriage is knowing how to make
rice! you can burn the sabzi in the ghormah sabzi, leave the fez out of fez-n-
joon, forget the ghey in the gheymah, you could probly get away with screaming
at his mother! but you can never, must never ever even if you are in labor,
bleeding from your eyes or have one foot in the grave,
Our Daughter Started Dating!!
Salam. I have just found your site on the Internet. How interesting! I am
American (Jewish) and have been married to my Iranian husband for almost
24 years. It has been an experience, to say the least. We have two
children who aren't exactly children anymore. Our oldest is 19, just
finished her first year of pre-med and our youngest is 14, his first year
of high school. The cultural differences are enormous but not
insurmountable. It takes a tremendous amount of patience and work
The differences really just became an
obstacle during the past couple of years after our daughter graduated
high school and found a serious boyfriend. A huge no-no for Iranian
girls. My husband has admitted he is having a very hard time with it,
but he knows that she is an American, raised in America, and this is
how it's going to be.
I would love to hear from other women with their experiences. We have
lived in Iran. gone back to Iran for visits and had his family here for
visits. I am totally accepted by his family, completely one of them. My
family adores him and he and my dad were absolutely best friends
before my dad's death. In fact, when we lived in Iran, from 1977-1978, my
parents came over for a visit.
Please send me an Email. I would love to hear from anyone.
If its burned or overcooked, its Tah'deghi
When my husband & I were first married,
I made a cake one day and accidentally
left it in the oven too long. I told
him the burned bottom was because it was
Tah'deghi cake. It has become a joke,
and just about anything over cooked
Neither party should have to give up their beliefs or customs
Surfing the net and just tripped across your website....interesting.
I am American, my husband is Iranian and our two daughters are a little of
both. We have been married almost 18 years. Dated for four. I have now
known my husband more than half my life.
How would I characterize the past 22 years? Wonderful. Exciting.
Fulfulling. Gratifying. Frustrating. Enraging. Intimidating. All of the
above and none of the above. In the early years of our dating and marriage
we had a lot of power struggles. However, I believe this holds true for all
committed relationships, whether they are same nationality or not. We have
grown and matured together. To make any long term relationship work takes
great committment, cooperation and empathy on both sides.
In the long run, my husband and I have more in common than not. We are both
products of the middle class, both raised in moderately religious yet very
spiritual homes, and are children of parents who themselves are in long
term, committed relationships. Neither of our sets of parents have ever
divorced. Coincidentally, neither have we. Yep, this is our first and only
marriage. In America....go figure.
Anyway, to make a long email short, I'll conclude by agreeing with another
lady's observation that neither party should have to give up their beliefs
or customs. If you are going to marry someone from a different culture,
both parties should genuinely be interested in the other's culture,
viewpoint etc. Our children are fully aware of their Iranian and American
heritages. We celebrate Easter and Christmas, eggs, tree and all. But you
better believe we also celebrate Aide NoRuz and prepare a Haft Seen table,
visit relatives and go on our annual Sezdeh Bedar picnic....don't forget
jumping the fire! My children have grown up in a bilingual household,
listened to every type of music under the sun, and have experienced a
fullness and richness of life that is truly a blessing.
Take advantage of your unique position. For example, never go shopping for
big ticket items such as cars without at least 2 to 3 Iranian men with you.
I'm not sure whether it is their dogged determination to NEVER pay the
asking price, or their somewhat unnerving effect on otherwise naive and
sheltered Americans...but I find we ALWAYS get a better price than I would
have gotten on my own! And when entering any large Iranian social
gathering, arrive with your own posse. I find my retinue of 4
brother-in-laws, 4 cousins, 1 husband, 2 children, at least 10 to 15 serious
friends and all their various and sundry wives, husbands etc has a
wonderfully soothing and calming effect on me. While they feel quite
comfortable razzing and slightly insulting me to my face, they will not
tolerate the same from anyone else! Lighten up and have fun for God's sake.