Love Stories: Arranged marriages in eastern Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Love Stories: Arranged marriages in eastern Iowa


WATERLOO (KWWL) -- If you think arranged marriages only happen in other cultures or countries, you'd be wrong.

An eastern Iowa couple are in one and their children plan to follow suit.

Nearly 30 years ago, Gerald and Michiko Menning became husband and wife.  They had just met.

The Waverly man and Japanese woman entered into an arranged marriage through the Unification Church led by Reverend Sun Moon.

Since that ceremony, the now 57-year-olds have been happily raising five children in Cedar Falls.

"Reverend Moon introduced each other, matched and we talked if we accept or not. This is our choice and we talked and we agreed," said Michiko.

And their oldest, 21-year-old Erika, already has plans to marry.  Like her parents, it's an arranged marriage.

"He lives in Missouri. He's studying to be an engineer, over in Rolla. I feel very special and unique in our own way," Erika said.

The Wartburg College junior and her brothers ages 18, 17, 15 and 10 all say they embrace the Unification Church teachings they've been raised to follow, even the arranged marriage part.

"I try not to think about it too much, 'cause I don't wanna focus on that. I'm focusing on trying to become the best husband for my future wife but it's nice to know that I will have a wife who is also preparing to be the best wife possible," said Kenei Menning.

Reverend Moon is known for orchestrating unions between men and women from other countries.

Not without its critics, the Unification Church was founded in South Korea in 1954.

Kenei, a music major at Wartburg, admits he has turned down dates as the church does not allow premarital sex or even dating.

"I just say I don't believe in dating. I just say dating is pretty much experimenting. I guess they are surprised that I'm having someone else decide, but I will have a say in it you know, I can decline. I guess I'm not really pushed into the religion but I chose to be in it because it worked out so well with my parents. It's working out well with my sister and I can see the logic behind it," he said.

As for mom and dad, they see their union as a higher calling and one that culture and language could not divide.

Online reporter: Tara Thomas 

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