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Ken Grubb

What Makes A Marriage To A Turk Work?

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I'm curious about this. I've met quite a few people who have married into Turkish families, and most of them aren't working very well. A few couples I know are very happy, though. So I wonder, what makes a marriage to a Turk really work? I think the initial response would be about love, but that would apply to any marriage. What things are important in a marriage to a Turk which are specific to that kind of marriage?

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Hi Ben...

I have been with my Turkish Husband 5 yrs now, and yes he's been hard work some of the time, but I don't put this down to him being Turkish but to him as a person, his moods his attitude, his personality and also his age.....

My Husband met me on holiday, I was out drinking and dancing, but I wasn't pissed every night, and I certainly wasn't wearing provocative clothing, and throwing myself at every young Turk that passed me by........I was going to say this is probably because of my age, but having seen the actions of so many woman my age and older on Holiday which has left me wanting to crawl under the table for them, it's made me feel quite shamed that I was English and that there's no wonder English girls/woman have gained a bad reputation in the resorts in turkey, I reject the excuse it's because I'm older, it's because of my upbringing and my own personanlty..............

We started a relationship and then after about 4 months I moved out to Turkey to be with him. I moved out there initially because I was obviously concerned that he wasn't just using me (visa, money etc) so wanted to see how he was with me in front of friends and family and how he was with me in general......... I didn't have anything to be worried about.....after 2 yrs we both came here to UK been here 3 yrs.......

My husband is Muslim but not a practising one, I'm atheist always have been and something I have never kept from him or his family, but I was excepted and I've never been asked to change this.........I get on very well with all his family and am particularly close to his Mum and a couple of his Aunts........ he's also very westernised and doesn't hold much with Turkish culture, he's never had a problem with anything I have ever worn in fact he always comments on how nice I look, he's very proud of how I keep our House (which his Turkish friends always comment about) I often cook Turkish food for us, which he enjoys (so does his friends) he rarely ask for Turkish food I just enjoy it my self, he loves Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy and Bacon sandwiches, so nothing there for us to fall out over, he doesn't mind me having a drink in the house as well as when we go out, we both enjoy socialising and going round different pubs then onto a club so we have no arguments there......... we go most places together our life is together, he says why get married and do everything separate and live in different country's (like some couples do, probably awaiting their visa's) if we did split up I know it would have nothing to do with him being Turkish, it would be because of the same reasons a lot of marriages fail....

I think if the Husband is very Turkish orientated and only ever wants to live the Turkish culture then this is where problems start, any relationship should be about give and take and this includes your culture differences.

I've seen too many times Turkish young man marrying or getting engaged to English girl/woman, who he met while she was on Holiday, so imagine she was probably there with friends enjoying herself dancing (not many clothes on) drinking etc and something obviously attracted him to her.... their relationship progresses after she returns back to UK.....later they end up marrying..... then boom she's to stop drinking, he doesn't like her drinking, she has to wear clothes that don't reveal too much, she may even be told he wants her to become Muslim and be covered and much more.... so many instances of this have happened..... and maybe this is why a lot of the relationships don't last... Most of the girls/woman were probably being used for a visa in the first place but there are exceptions and I think these marriages fail because the Husband isn't willing to compromise on anything he wants it all his way..... I also think a lot of Turkish men allow their Turkish family's to butt into their own marriages far too much and a lot of the men tend to put their Turkish family before their own English one..........

I'm under no illusion that I have met the perfect Turkish man...... or that we will be together forever, I hope we will be together for ever but there's no guarantee's in life, you have to make the best of what you have, because you never know what's around the corner......

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An excellent post... I think that one thing, being flexible and not expecting the other to change, must be extremely important in an inter-cultural marriage. Sounds like you are very lucky to have a man who is as flexible as you, as well as a family of in-laws.But I wonder how it's done when those aspects are absent, in many cases I've heard the family becomes a real pain (on both sides), or the religions start clashing as soon as the first baby is born, when it was never a problem before. How does one overcome differences/expectations in those cases?Anyone else have any personal experience in this as well?

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It is difficult to say what makes a marriage to a Turk work because although I know quite a number of mixed marriages I don't think I know one that is really working.It is easier to say what makes them fail.Over and above the normal problems couples have there is a hugh problem with the different cultures.A lot of the marriages start from holiday romances and the men often come from uneducated/traditional areas and as Debbie said, once they are married they expect their wives to dress and behave differently.When you marry a Turk you don't just marry the man, you marry his family and they openly involve themselves in the marriage. If there are decisions to be made, like where to live or when to start a family they are discussed by everyone. Don't expect a man to stand up for you against his mother, especially if he is an only child.If they live near they are in and out of your house and being generous bring gifts to help set up house which to western taste are hideous or clash.There is one poor American young woman who is engaged to a Turk who writes about her experiences in the ExPat zone of Zaman newspaper. Her prospective MiL rides roughshod over what she wants eg changing the order for curtains to something unsuitable for their flat and nearly every article is about the battles she has with MiL but she smiles sweetly through it all and rolls over and wiggles her feet in the air when they discover she makes good Turkish coffee.Goodness help her when children arrive on the scene as western ideas on bringing up children are drastically different to Turkish ideas like children being allowed to stay up to all hours and every time they cry/throw a tantrum give into them and stuff them full of biscuits etc. She will find it difficult to get rid of MiL then and will be expected to leave offspring with her rather than a nursery school if she wants to return to work.If the family lives at some distance it is the custom to turn up without much notice and stay for as long as they like without contributing to the costs ( guests are not expected to pay for anything even if you go out for a meal). It does not matter if you have guests coming from your country, they will still stay and expect everyone to muck in. Can you imagine your brother, wife and children sharing one small room and twelve of you sharing the bathroom for a week or so?They will take over your kitchen and go through you fridge and cupboards and help themselvesOften, even though you might be short of money the man will regularly send money to his family.And one major thing, possible derived from Muslims having more than one wife, men think it is perfectly Ok to have affairs and the wife is expected to turn a blind eye. I don't think I know of a mixed marriage where the men haven't had it off on the side.(they seem less discrete than, say, UK men so everyone except the wife knows about it)I certainly would not recommend a mixed marriage as the odds are really stacked against it.

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I take it your not in a mixed relationship then baykus lol? You seem to have a pretty negative view of them...I can relate to alot of what you said about the MILs, but as we live in England, we dont have those problems lol...Ive got to say though, that I've got lovely in laws who have accepted me from day one, however they are quite western in their views, which helps. I've got to say my story is very similar to Debbies, in that my husband has settled well into UK life, we share the same views, enjoy socialising together (when we can, with 2 young children its not as much as we'd like anymore lol), and he isn't a practising muslim. He is also well educated, therefore very open minded. So none of these things have caused us great strife, like they may do some couples. I can honestly say that we have never had any major problems in our marriage as a result of my husband being Turkish. He isn't jealous, doesn't gamble/spend hours with his friends/send money over to his family, hes a brilliant dad, and he works hard for us. I also have friends who re married to Turks and also have very good relationships. Yes the odds are stacked against mixed marriages, but if you get to know the person very well, and live with them before you marry (which we did) without any major problems, you're on the right track...Baykus, just got to ask you- do ALL the Turkish men you know think its ok to have affairs? Im gobsmacked by that statement actually as NONE of the men in my husbands family have ever done such a thing-and wouldnt dream of it! (and living in a small Turkish town, where EVERYONE knows your business, I think theyd get caught pretty quick if they did ever do it). As for my hubby, we've been together 17 years, married 12 and I know for a fact he has never strayed. He is just not that type of man (he's so shy, it took him a week to chat me up lol!)...and the same goes for my friends husbands...they are happily married with kids, I would be very shocked to learn that they had risked everything for an affair...obvioulsy I do know some Turkish men who think this is "normal" and funnily enough, theyre the ones whos marriages have ended pretty quickly....Lou

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I am married to a Turkish woman with a four year old son and thought I would add my perspective. The thing about Turkish men having affairs is ludicrous as few have the opportunity unless they are living in the tourist areas of are wealthy businessmen and then it is prostitution.What was said yesterday about the family is so true. They make decisions for you interfere in every trivial detail and the whole family discuss their money problems. What makes me very angry is that I am careful with money and am well paid so I don't have money problems. So when they have a crisis guess who has to be the bank. I find that with Turks it is always the foreigner who has to pay.

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Hello to everyone :)I'm not married with a Turk so probably my opinion doesn't count so much.But as much as I had learnt about Muslim family, I could say that are big expectation from the one who is getting married a Muslim person. A family, a Muslim family, pretends everything: to be as their child... and a child always share all the problems with the family and is there to help them as his/her family. Even it can be in some moments some tests from the family for seeing if the new member would be loyal. With diplomacy and time you resolve more when you are in a Turkish family, then if you are tough.Also other problem is the culture itself. The adjust to the other is harder even being from the same culture, but being from the other makes harder and harder. So many misunderstanding creating it from simple words, looks, acts, etc.Eva

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Sorry Baykus....got to disagree with a lot of what you've written in your post! :) Were did you do your research?You cannot tar all turkish men with the same brush..just like you can't do it with british guys. My hubby and I have been together 21 years this year and we'll have our 19th wedding anniversary this July. Like all marriages, whether mixed or not, we've had our ups and downs...any married person who says they don't argue is telling lies IMO. When we came back to Turkey to live most of our disagreements were about extended family looking for loans. :angry: After we married, we lived in Turkey for a few years before we went to N. Ireland and we lived there for 10yrs. We've been back living in Turkey since 2002. We also have 3 children. We've never had a clash of cultures and he has never tried to change my dress sense or religious views. I have lovely in-laws; we clicked from day one. They've never interfered in our marriage and they don't overstep the mark of unwelcome hospitality. They live in the same town as us but they rarely visit....it's usually us who does the visiting. My m-i-l has never told me how to bring up our children or chosen horrible curtains for my house. :wacko: ... she's a lovely woman. My in-laws are kurdish and they came to live on the west coast 26yrs ago. My husband would never dream of telling me that I'm not allowed to go out for a night with my friends and says nothing if I come home at 4am! :) As for him thinking it's ok to have an affair, as far as I'm aware, he never has done. He knows too well the consequences if he even thought abou it. :) After this length of time together we are still very very happy and can still have a cuddle on the sofa :wub:

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Sorry you are right, I did generalise but I was also telling it as I see it. I was stating the things that happen to increase the possibility of mixed marriages going wrong. Some of the things have happened to me as my spouse is Turkish (we have been through thick and thin for over 20 years) and all the things I mentioned have happened to people I know and they are more the rule rather than exceptions. We ran a pansion and my husbands friends/acquaintances (married) used to bring their girlfriends and 'borrow' a room for an hour or so. Eventually when I realised what was going on I put a stop to it, well it didn't happen when I was on the premises anyway.From what people have writtien here marriages where they have lived in the UK or Ireland seem to have a better chance than ones that live here.Yes, toasty you are right because you are foreign you are expectd to be rich and share your wealth with the family. Do not expect any money to be returned no matter how much it was.Also when marriages break up the foreign spouse who usually financed the mariage and bought the house etc end up with very little often because Turkish laws have not permitted foreingersnto buy in that area or couples have put houses in the Turkish partners name so they do not have to wait for several months for military permission.Another thing that happens in mixed marriages is when children reach school age. Much later here than in the UK. The Turkish government is well aware that there system is not good and keep talking about changing it but has anything happened?Teachers I know have gone back to the UK with their children so that they can go through the not brilliant but wider education system there and hopefully on to UK universities where the degrees are recognised worldwide. Husbands have stayed in Turkey where their work is and see their wives and children in holiday times.I am not saying that mixed marriages can not work but people must go into them with eyes wide open as the odds are stacked against them

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I feel I must put in my 2 kuruş worth here. Not all Turkish men are the same -- they vary as much as men of any other nation -- good, bad, and a lot in between. Men have varying characters, so the way they are is a blend of character and culture. Surely, marriage to a Turk should work no better or worse than marriage to someone of the same nationality.My Turkish husband is perhaps not what is generally perceived as a "typical" Turkish man. We met & married in Australia, where we lived till coming here 5 years ago. He has a strong character and never allowed his family to interfere in our lives. His strong-willed sister tried to make many decisions for us, but his mother learned long ago that it was useless. We deliberately chose to settle on the west coast, although his family are all in Ankara. His mother has visted us just once, for a week (she's 85 now, getting too frail to travel)., and we've been to Ankara several times but never for longer than a week.Yes, we have times when we disagree, but I believe that's due more to character than culture. Our daughter went through Turkish high school, but wasn't happy with the "ezber" (learning by rote) system, and after a lot of research we decided to send her to the UK for university (currently in second year), so I defiinitely agree with Baykuş in that respect.We've had good times and bad times, but generally it seems to be working, and we've been married almost 34 years ! :)

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I think this is the lady that Baykus is talking about[DIARY OF A FUTURE BRIDE] Pride and independence.

If someone were to offer me a million dollars to revisit Can's and my first year of living together, I would kindly thank them and send them away with a firm, resolute, "No!" Can and I had been dating over a year and a half when we made the momentous decisions to get engaged and move in together.Everything seemed so romantic, and it should have been a time of happiness and excitement, but it was marred by small disagreements that loomed over our budding relationship like dark clouds on a sunny day

DEAD LINK

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I feel it is not so much that they expect me to be rich but because they are so useless with money that because I was brought up with the attitude that you don't make too many phone calls in case you cannot pay the bills kind of mentality whereas my in laws make as many phone calls as they want and then use our phone when they get cut off.Example 1Sister in law has put on a lot of weight. She has young kids and her husband is a civil engineer with a Masters. He started his second business and both have failed. Result no money. She texts us (we are abroad) can we wire her the money to buy a motorised treadmill because she cannot get exercise by going out because she has young kids. I am astonished at her cheek. Of course we would have to pay the bank costs and never see the money.Example 2 Father in law has maxed his credit cards and he can only barely pay the minimum. He is desperate and threatening to go to a money lender. He owns his own home, dilapidated but in a good area. He asks us to lend him the 2000 dollars and will pay back at 200 a month. I suggest to wife that they sell the flat, buy a new one with central heating etc. and use the money left for a nest egg and pay the debt. She is horrified and we lend them the money. We also end up paying half the costs of putting in gas and now they moan about the gas bill.Example 3Brother in law has not been paid for civil engineering work because the builder cannot sell the houses because they have no 'tapu.' When get yourself into this and if you have no head for business why not just work for an employer in Middle East-surely if would be better. Nobody has ever been able to explain to me why you would build a house with no 'tapu.'I just cannot understand the Turkish mentality when it comes to money.

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hello sorry this is not a direct reply to the above but just a quick type as i have to go back home. im not married yet but i have been living with my fiancee in turkey for over a year and have been with him for over 2 before i settled here. i want to reread these responses as although im not married to him everyone thinks we are and ive no idea if signing a piece of paper will make any difference. but i have to say having lived in london for way too long and coming here and practically stopping drinking was not such a bad thing really and smoking too and as for clothes - thats dependant on my mood still not his opinions but he gives them anyway but if i had a model figure maybe id show off more. my main prob is the family but ive voiced my opinion on them at the start - the ones i like n the brother i dont! for whatever reasons. i found being up front about my own standards helped even if i made enemies in his family - lets face it the public and family can work out whos ok n whos not in thier heart of hearts so i stay clear of them as much as possible at festivals and we have made groıund rules on how to deal with certain family members.... i think wat i mean is yes its hard if your stay in turkey as a 30 somthing yabanci but the cultural part we deal with on a day to day basis. im still learning but i do feel i changed to help make this cope but so does any couple who decide to settle and plan for families of thier own etc. whetever the cultural differences i have to admit i wake up each morning and feel love but my personality is like a fire and i am no calm mouse but i dont act like i used to or at least like most 30 yr old londoners do so who lucky here - my partner cos i moved here n calmed down i guess but by my own acord...if he n i ever came to the uk i dont know how we would cope. i will read on and add more. havent for ages as we moved to an old turkish house and town for his job and i lost mine and i hate the house so we will move again.... and why was that all so life changing .... apparently im going to start being a house wife next week! watch for the next thread maybe i wont be so calm. but i was a teacher in london and half of me sees the benefits of a calmer life here in turkey even if the arguments are wilder than with an english man!

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QUOTE[surely, marriage to a Turk should work no better or worse than marriage to someone of the same nationality]Meral I do not agree with this. Relationships are not easy things to make a sucess of but when you have got the added stress inducing things in a mixed marriage then of course it makes it harder to make a sucess of.I will add a bit more. A number of my husbands family have neighbours who have men who have gone to live in the UK. He has told me that several of them are married to English women and have families but they are also married to Turkish women and have children over here too.

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Yes, Baykuş, I have to agree that with those men who maintain 2 families, it's more of a cultural thing. Quite a few Turkish men still have an attitude of male sovereignty, which permits them to believe they have the right to more than one wife at a time (despite it being "illegal" in Turkey). This mindset is so deeply ingrained in the culture that no amount of legislation can wash it away. There's always a way around it (like imam nikahı -- unregistered marriage by a mosque official). As for mixed marriages in general, a lot also depends on the individual personalities, eg. some can adapt while others can't (or won't). As long as the Turkish husband doesn't have respect (or make allowances) for the differences in culture, there's sure to be problems. So I have to admit, you have a very valid point !

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But they don't maintain these families. The stupidity of this mentality is that men with little or no money try to do this and both families exist in poverty while the man ponces off foreigners. Of course the wives and their families have no money and would rather live in poverty than work themselves. Why do they not just get jobs and work?

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Well I think we should be careful not to say that everyone is like this, but I have seen the same things Toasty has mentioned. A lady I know has a boyfriend who's married to another woman and seeing her on the side, and she's quite poor, sometimes asking me to help her buy groceries, and I wonder why her boyfriend isn't doing anything for her. But we certainly can't say that this is something that only occurs in Turkey.

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But they don't maintain these families. The stupidity of this mentality is that men with little or no money try to do this and both families exist in poverty while the man ponces off foreigners. Of course the wives and their families have no money and would rather live in poverty than work themselves. Why do they not just get jobs and work?

Toasty

I agree entirely why don't they get a job them selves anything is better than nothing, this would also put less strain on the other family' members, because they wouldn't start to cry poverty at every excuse they can to the English/American etc side of the marriage for money hand out's, you in your case....

Your sister-in-law would have been better investing in a double buggy and taking the kids out and walking for her exercise........what the hell do they think we have to do...... I had two young kids, no car, only transport public buses, had to take both kids and one buggy when I went shopping or anything, and I also worked part time for the extra money to get by, we had very little money so I couldn't afford a child minder so I worked at night in a nursing home, while my Husband worked in day time..........

It's like working for a living is beneath Turkish woman, I know not all are the same, and I also know a lot of men don't want their wives working, make's them feel slightly worthless maybe.......but come on we live in 21st century, I found while living in Turkey that a lot of people just don't want to move on, it's like they almost enjoy living the poverty lifestyle it gives them something to complain about, probably when all the 25 other members of the family turn up unannounced and settle down for the week............Sorry just had to say.

It really gets me worked up when I here of family's (mainly the woman) complaining about having no money but they sit on their *rse all day watching TV and SMOKING.........arahhhhhhhhhhh

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I watch the Turkish news most nights and every night it seems they have what I call the ekmek parasi story. Endless moaning about having no money, prices etc. They enjoy the poverty and seem to blame 'unnamed foreign countries' for keeping Turkey down.My mother-in law has never worked and has never had any money. Sister in law the same. They cannot work because of either having children or husband doesn't want them to work apparently.

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My mother-in law has never worked and has never had any money. Sister in law the same. They cannot work because of either having children or husband doesn't want them to work apparently.

Having children is just an excuse in my book, there's thousands of woman have children and go out to work, I think a lot of them would prefer to stay at home and bring the children up, but this is sometimes not an option as it hasn't been all my adult life I've had 2 kids and always worked, I've had to keep a roof over my children's head and food in their mouth and clothes on their back so I had no choice.....

Yeah..... why don't the men want their wives to work, yes I know a few of them think it's not manly to not be able to provide for the family, but come on, in a lot of instances the men are not providing, so does this make them feel better because it's only the men failing to provide and not their wives as well.......... or is a case of keeping the wives at home so they know where they are and they don't become too independent and start changing their ideas and views on things, (become a bit more like European woman) my opinion is it's the latter.....

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Why would a man want his wife to live in poverty, making do and mend. have a flat that is falling down, everyone huddled around a coal burning stove in the living room all winter with the washing draped all around and hiding from the baliff with the phone being cut off a couple of times a year?

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It has always been a mystery to me too why couples have lots of children (5+)when they can't afford 2 and expect the government to provide for them.Sorry this is off topic.

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But they don't maintain these families. The stupidity of this mentality is that men with little or no money try to do this and both families exist in poverty while the man ponces off foreigners. Of course the wives and their families have no money and would rather live in poverty than work themselves. Why do they not just get jobs and work?

What is my opinion?As long as women have been used not working because of their own parents, is coming as a tradition... women find natural to take care of their nest and let the men fight for the surviving. Those are traditional families. Also men prefer this status, because they are having more influence and power which is coming with the idea of providing to the family goods. Of course are many situation in which men can provide very little or none...but also the family is still keeping this status. Poorness many times increase men power in the family then decrease it. I would deny that you have a special situation in your family, which could explain why you are so disappointed and angry. In your case I would probably put some limits, which I also explain in the family.It is my opinion, but this doesn't mean I'm agree with many facts.Eva

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