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Arranged Marriage Vs. Me.

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Hi guys, you all have been so great with answering questions/offering advice, so I trust you, and I'm gonna recap a few of my problems with my boyfriend of 1 year.

First off, I'd like to say that I've wanted nothing else but to move out of the country and teach English for a while to feed my addiction to travel/living abroad. Primarily I've hoped to have friends or a boyfriend somewhere so that this would be less hard.

That said, it happened. I met the guy last year and he loves me enough to say hey, yeah, come here and live with me. Independently I networked and got a job offer and made seriously plans for moving to his city in Turkey. It's Denizli--he's been working there for 3 months and while he doesn't love it, he's said he'll stay at least a couple of years.

But the problems lie within his family. Since he finished his military service in January, they have been relentless about getting him married. His dad has even said, I don't care who--just sign some papers. They were meeting families of interested girls while he was in the army hoping to find a plausible match. yeah, they are actually threatening to arrange one for him. On Sunday, his mom said he had to find a wife by the start of 2012. Or else.

The crazy part is that they have met me and I *think* they have at least a small idea of how serious we are. So what I'm getting from such persistence is that they do NOT want him marrying me. Ok, I understand. I'm American (worldwide: promiscuous), I'm not very domesticated, I probably don't know what I'm getting into--put simply, I'm not worth the thought.

Today we talked a little about it: he was like, hahah, isn't it funny that my mom thinks I have to get married before 2012? not happening!! he found it so funny. I didn't. For me, it's like some kind of death sentence. It pretty much dooms our relationship. The thing is, I feel like if he was planning me into his future like I do him, he would be like, "yeah well mom I have this american girlfriend, and I'll probably marry her--" even if not true, just to keep her quiet for a while. But instead I just feel like he's using me to procrastinate the impending marriage he has. Like, as soon as he finds someone wife-qulaity (obviously not me), he'll just drop me.

Am I reading to far into this? Should I really be worried? I mean, if he's insisting that I move in with him (and even starting to set me up with students (his colleagues) for private classes, and testing my turkish, (and teaching be how to be more Turkish...) I just...he's investing in something. Right?

Why do I feel so depressed about it! Anyway the decision is made: I'm moving to Turkey on 18 June. If he doesn't want me...well, there are other fish in the sea. Not the end of the world. But at this point I'm afraid I'm investing way more than he is...thoughts? (sorry this is so long!!)

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Today we talked a little about it: he was like, hahah, isn't it funny that my mom thinks I have to get married before 2012? not happening!! he found it so funny. I didn't. For me, it's like some kind of death sentence. It pretty much dooms our relationship. The thing is, I feel like if he was planning me into his future like I do him, he would be like, "yeah well mom I have this american girlfriend, and I'll probably marry her--" even if not true, just to keep her quiet for a while. But instead I just feel like he's using me to procrastinate the impending marriage he has. Like, as soon as he finds someone wife-qulaity (obviously not me), he'll just drop me.

To be honest I think you have worked out the situation yourself. It certainly doesn't sound as if he's included you in his long term plans for his future, so how much more time are you going to invest in him?

We females wait around for males to make the decisions and call the tune far too often when really we should be making our own decisions about what to do, if we are not happy with a situation.

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Not sounding terrible good is it. I agree with you if he was at all serious about your relationship he would have said to his mother there and then that he was in a serious relationship with you. I don't think the fact that he wants you to live with him means he is serious, just that you are up for it and he thinks you will both probably have a good time whilst it last's. I don't think his parents will be very happy knowing that you will be living togeather and maybe by forcing the issue about getting married will be doing you a favour in the long run as you will see very quickly if he is serious or not.

You are a bright girl and as Sunny said I think you know the answer yourself and agree with what else she said, but can understand why you are looking for other peoples views. I see in October you have an interview at the State Department, well done I'm sure you will do well at the interview.

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To be honest I think you have worked out the situation yourself. It certainly doesn't sound as if he's included you in his long term plans for his future, so how much more time are you going to invest in him?

We females wait around for males to make the decisions and call the tune far too often when really we should be making our own decisions about what to do, if we are not happy with a situation.

This is such good advice, thank you so much. I have been tossing around the idea of how much I should be investing...but its hard to tell because we are young and I know he doesn't want to get married yet. It doesn't necessarily imply that we are not going to work.

The truth is, even though it's difficult to be happy now, I know I'll be happy once I'm there, and it's something I can wait to talk about until we're together again. If I were to give up on him now, it's like I'm not trying hard enough! Obviously it's going to be difficult!

I don't think the fact that he wants you to live with him means he is serious, just that you are up for it and he thinks you will both probably have a good time whilst it last's. I don't think his parents will be very happy knowing that you will be living togeather and maybe by forcing the issue about getting married will be doing you a favour in the long run as you will see very quickly if he is serious or not.

More good advice, thanks you thank you. :) Your insight is helpful, Abi. Being a modern, educated, well-to-do Turk, I just think he doesn't want to get married. And actually, me neither. That is what seems to complicate things! Like, if he had his way, he'll wait 4 or 5 more years to get married, and that's cool with me...if we're still together it would make sense!! I mean, I'm not even sure I would say yes if he asked (I hope he doesn't)!

Thanks again for your replies. :)

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just remember live is so short and you can only try things, plus sometimes you learn from you mistakes and that makes you stronger, i did the same sort of thing and now we are happy married and have a baby on the way! us girls always look deeper into situations its natural or normal if there is such a word! i say go for it hun !!! you gotta admit turkish men are so lovely and romantic well my hubby is anyway hehe! let me know how you get on!! not long now! x

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Hi Atayavie, it sounds like he's going along with his mother's plans to arrange a marriage (making fun of it but not against it). A lot of Turkish men simply accept their parents' choice (cultural tradition). And as you are American ("promiscuous" as far as they understand), they think it's OK for their boy to have someone to pass time & play with until he gets married.....to a virgin no less ! What has he even said or done to make you think he "might be" serious about your relationship ?

As Abi & Sunny are saying, I agree that you've already worked it out for yourself but just needed a bit of reinforcement. Yep, plenty of other handsome romantic Turkish men in the sea, so, go for it girl ! Good luck. :girlpower[1]:

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What has he even said or done to make you think he "might be" serious about your relationship ?

I mean, simply that it's long distance, and everyone he knows -- knows about me, his colleagues, his family...

I'm friends with all of his friends, his sister is staying with me at the moment (here in the U.

S.), he talks about the future (making plans to volunteer for the world cup 2014)...we're both of the same mentality, we want to travel during ramadan to russia and georgia...

I dunno, usual serious relationship stuff. Making plans together, integrating me into his world, being okay with me moving to his country. I stayed with him through his military service, he called me every day. Since we met last May we've been trying to find a way to live closer. It's the kind of stuff a girl falls in love with, but what does it mean to him?! *sigh*.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I mean, simply that it's long distance, and everyone he knows -- knows about me, his colleagues, his family...

I'm friends with all of his friends, his sister is staying with me at the moment (here in the U.

S.), he talks about the future (making plans to volunteer for the world cup 2014)...we're both of the same mentality, we want to travel during ramadan to russia and georgia...

I dunno, usual serious relationship stuff. Making plans together, integrating me into his world, being okay with me moving to his country. I stayed with him through his military service, he called me every day. Since we met last May we've been trying to find a way to live closer. It's the kind of stuff a girl falls in love with, but what does it mean to him?! *sigh*.

The pressure from families is very strong to marry a suitable girl. We have lots of friends who have followed the family line some are happy but some are not and it seems that this is acceptable and some have continued a previous relationship with the girlfriend after marraiage which has caused lots of problems for all involved. Also the pressure on men involved with foreign women is also strong from families (though not close family in our case) neigbours and friends. We have had comments such as:-She will drink and get drunk. They cant cook or clean a house. They dont respect your family. They smoke. Wear provocative clothes. Sleep with other men. She will steal your money. After three years married it is slowing down and some of his friends and neigbours have been very complimentary about my house keeping and cooking skills! No İ didnt dismember them in the kitchen (perhaps the proud look on his face stopped me) just smiled and said thank you. Albeit the smile was stapled in place.

Also remember what has been said here many times ''You marry the family''Best perhaps to enjoy your time together for as long as it lasts.

Hopefully you will have a holiday to remember and for all the good reasons and if against all odds you become a couple the very best of luck.

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Thank Aine, your response was really helpful too. So far I haven't heard any nasty comments, and he's had foreign girlfriends before so I get the feeling his parents don't mind that much; also I have some updates which might be of some insight!

He told his parents that I'm moving in to his apartment; his dad responded with silent disapproval and is mom just said, "I don't want anyone getting hurt, but as long as you're happy it's okay with me."I wonder if she means *me* or *him*? I guess she wouldn't care about me getting hurt, maybe he thinks I'll do something crazy.

AND he talked to his grandmother about me on mother's day (the only grandparent he has), and she really wants to meet me!

I'm pretty excited. I think I have ample space to win his family over...

I'm just gonna be optimistic and take it day by day.

Thanks again for all your help, everybody! I'll keep you posted.

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Hi atayvieDo you know about kissing the hand of an older relative and putting it to your forehead? It's a sign of respect. She may possibly then go for a kiss on either cheek.

Occasionally, the other person may pull their hand away and just go for the cheek kissing, to show that they don't need you to be so formal - but only after having offered the hand first.... so it can be a bit of a test!!

I'm sure she'd be charmed by the traditional greeting. Your boyfriend will probably have done it first, so you can just copy.

In the end though - just be yourself. It's your boyfriend's job to support you with the family, and fight for your relationship if that's what it comes to. Best of luck.

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Guest Strawberry

Hi Atayavie,From reading your story I think your boyfriend sounds really genuine and sincere. He's ben totally honest with you about not wanting to rush into marriage, and I think that's a good sign. Men don't want to commit to marriage until they're absolutely sure they want to spend the rest of their lives with you, and it would be far more worrying had he started talking marriage within just months of meeting.

Your boyfriend seems like a very normal, young man who loves being with you - enough to ask you to move in with him - but is not yet ready to commit. I don't see anything wrong in that at all. Look at Prince William - it took him a long, long time before commiting - and he's clearly madly in love with Kate. OK, Prince William had to be certain Kate was the one - but at the end of the day he's still a man with human feelings and emotions - and men are notorious for taking their time before commiting.

Your boyfriend has spoken of the future with you (travelling together etc) and as he's well-educated and comfortably off, that's exactly the sort of thing a young man like him wants to do before he commits to marriage and starts having a family. It sounds like he wants to see a bit of the world - with you by his side. If he only had very casual feelings for you it's highly unlikely he'd want you to move in with him - he wouldn't want you around 24/7 if you were just a fling. And from what you've decribed of your history together, he seems to have put a lot of effort into seeing you and keeping in contact - even having you move near him when he was doing his army service. I would guess that he wants to see how the relationship goes before he makes any commitment to you; and I'm sure you want to do the same! It could turn out that you both know you're meant for each other, or in a year from now, you could realise it wasn't meant to be. But being intelligent and mature - with a place to live and a job waiting for you - I don't think you have anything to lose by giving it a try. As you are only early 20's, and if it didn't work out, you're still young enough to meet Mr Right. And Mr Right may not be Turkish - he could be American! But you won't know if your Turkish boyfriend is Mr Right until you live together and share more experiences together.

As for meeting your boyfriend's grandmother, the best advice I can give is to just be natural. Don't try too hard - that always comes across as insincere and false. Just be you. When I met my partner's father I gave him a warm smile and shook his hand, and I think he felt very comfortable with that - as I did too. Don't go overboard - just treat her as you would any other boyfriend's grandmother when first meeting them. She knows you're not Turkish, so she won't be expecting you to act in a Turkish manner - that could look contrived to her. I think it's always nice to take a small gift with you - cakes, chocolates, or flowers - just the sort of things we do in the UK or America. And then just go with the flow......

I wish you lots of luck, and I'm sure you'll enjoy the experience whatever happens.

Strawberry

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I wish you lots of luck, and I'm sure you'll enjoy the experience whatever happens.

Strawberry

Strawberry!! If you were here right now I would give you the biggest hug ever. Just the kind of optimistic thing I wanted to hear before getting on my plane tonight @ 9pm! I'll definitely keep everyone updated and thanks so much for your kind, insightful words. :)ps. Mr Right will never be american. Hahahahaha...
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Don't go overboard - just treat her as you would any other boyfriend's grandmother when first meeting them. She knows you're not Turkish, so she won't be expecting you to act in a Turkish manner - that could look contrived to her. Strawberry

Actually I agree with Sirin about the hand kissing. It does show respect especially to someone like a Grandmother as it means the person doing the handkissing values the Turkish customs and wants to do the right thing. So for me I don't think it could come across as looking contrived at all. When I first met my husband's family he told me if I didn't do it they wouldn't be very impressed as it would show lack of respect.
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Guest Strawberry

Strawberry!! If you were here right now I would give you the biggest hug ever. Just the kind of optimistic thing I wanted to hear before getting on my plane tonight @ 9pm! I'll definitely keep everyone updated and thanks so much for your kind, insightful words. :)ps. Mr Right will never be american. Hahahahaha...

Hi Atayavie,Oh, I'm glad you've gone away feeling excited! I'm sure you'll have a wonderful experience out in Turkey. Just remember to go with the flow and see how things develop between you - and don't rush things - let them take their natural course. You've already spent a lot of time together, so you're off to a good start, anyway. Just enjoy your time together; the experience of working and living in Turkey, and take each day as it comes. And do keep us updated.

Very best wishes for your time in Turkey!

Strawberry

Actually I agree with Sirin about the hand kissing. It does show respect especially to someone like a Grandmother as it means the person doing the handkissing values the Turkish customs and wants to do the right thing. So for me I don't think it could come across as looking contrived at all. When I first met my husband's family he told me if I didn't do it they wouldn't be very impressed as it would show lack of respect.

Hi Abi,I suppose Atayavie should really ask her boyfriend on the best way to greet his grandmother, as although the handkissing is a respectful and very quaint custom, not all Turkish people are happy to be greeted in that way. I actually heard of one British woman who attempted to kiss an elder relative's hand when first meeting him, and he shook her away and growled! I'm sure that was just HIM (maybe he didn't like to be reminded how old he was! Eeek!) but I always find 'less is more' when first meeting people.

When I met my partner's father for the first time, although I watched as my partner kissed his hand and held it to his forehead, I didn't feel I was familiar enough with him to do that. Maybe I'm just more reserved. But even though I only shook his hand, we clicked immediately and had a wonderful relationship until he sadly passed away. He certainly didn't complain that I'd been disrespectful by not kissing his hand when first meeting him; but maybe he made allowances for that as he knew I was English?

I suppose it's up to the individual and the family - we're all different. If Atayavie's boyfriend suggests to her that she does the handkissing thing, then obviously she should do. But if he doesn't suggest it I'd be inclined not to, in case she's one of those who finds it over-familiar, or even a little insulting - which, amazingly enough some elderly Turkish people do! Personally, I think it's a very quaint custom, and when I first saw my partner do it to his father I was very touched by it, but I feel it's quite a personal act, and holds much more significance when it's done by people who genuinely care for the person. I don't think it holds much weight when a stranger does it to an elderly person (whoever that elderly person is) which is why I think it could be seen as contrived. But that's just me - I'm sure other people view it differently.

Strawberry

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Yes, I do agree Stawberry that one should be guided as it's a bit of a mine field when you are with someone who is from a different culture to your own.

In my particular family, there are men who won't even shake my hand because I am a woman even though I have known them for years, but as you say every family can be different.

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Bon Voyage.

Re the hand kissing some of the more devout muslims avoid all physical contact and eye contact with women so that could be the problem and in the East some sects have seperate sitting rooms for men and women. İf İ am not sure İ wait for them to offer their hand.

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Yes your right about some more devout Muslims avoiding physical contact, the majority of my husbands family are devout Muslims. We also have relatives although not from the east and live in Istanbul who have separate sitting areas for men and woman, it does take some time to get use to that I must admit.

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  • 4 years later...

That's good news. Thanks for letting us know. I hope you'll both be very happy.

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