The basic social and economic unit in Persian society is the nuclear family. Some families combine into larger units comprised of a man, his wife or wives, and their married sons and their families. The Persian family is patriarchal, patrilineal, and patrilocal. Women defer to their husbands in public but may wield considerable decision-making power in private. The father is usually aloof and a disciplinarian, whereas the mother is permissive and affectionate, often acting as an intermediary between the children and their father. Men are the guardians and defenders of the family honor; they are responsible for protecting the chastity of their daughters and sisters. This obligation has sometimes led to the sequestering of women in the more traditional segments of society.
Marriages are arranged only after negotiation and approval by both sets of kin. Husband and wife usually have similar educational and socioeconomic backgrounds. Endogamy is the traditional practice, although it is avoided by the urban, educated people. There is a preference for marrying cousins.