Turks are beautiful. They seem exotic and our reserved, uptight natures respond to their affection and hospitality like a flower opening up to the sun. After the initial euphoria dims, talking openly and honestly about the issues below will prevent a lot of heartache further down the line, even if the conversations are difficult because of a language barrier or differing levels of education.
Decide what you want
What do you want from this relationship? Was it just a holiday romance? You had a great time and you can be friends but you can’t see a future with him/her. Or do you want it to lead to something more? Do you secretly want to get married and hope he/she is The One? Does he/she feel the same?
It is perfectly normal for us to date for a considerable time, getting to know our partners, before thinking about a long-term commitment. Turks, however, move fast. Once they decide they like someone, a proposal, engagement, and marriage can all happen with just a few months. If you fall madly in love, it is easy to be swept along in the excitement. Make sure it’s what you really want.
If you both decide to make a go of it, how is that going to happen? Are you going to move to Turkey? Will your partner move to your home country? Is it possible? Could you work in Turkey? Will your partner be able to find work in your home country? Where will you live? Can you afford a place of your own or will you be living with your parents? Does he still have to do military service? Are there any reasons why you or your partner may not get a visa?
It may well be that you have to live apart initially, but if you have a solid plan and determination, there’s hope that you can be together.
Do you want children? Does your partner want children? What will you do about childcare? Where do you see yourselves in 5 years? Will you both work? Do you see yourselves living in a city, with modern amenities and a range of entertainment or does village life appeal to you more? Will you rent or take out a mortgage? What aspirations do you have for your children? What would happen if you couldn’t have children?
Turks generally find forward planning challenging and are more likely to go with the flow and face issues as they occur. This can be attractive to us more organised foreigners but my advice is at least attempt to discuss the quality of life you aspire to, instead of finding yourself living in misery a few years down the road.
Talking about your partner’s background and upbringing will help you to understand the reasons for certain choices and expectations. Turkey is a huge country and there are many differences in the geographical areas, not only in the landscape but also with regard to lifestyle, expectations, and way of life.
If you are a city person and like access to a lively nightlife, gyms and shopping malls, life might be easier in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir or one of the other large cities or a smaller town in the west of Turkey. If you are used to a quieter country life and enjoy being part of a close-knit community, then village life might appeal more.
If your partner comes from the east of Turkey, where there is a more conservative attitude, and you plan to settle there, make sure you understand his expectations. Will he want you to be covered? Will you be allowed out on your own? Will he want you to convert to Islam? Will you be allowed to go back to your home country alone to visit your family? If you are living with his parents, how much privacy will you have? Does he already have another wife? (Yes, it does happen!) Will his family accept you? Will you face opposition in the community? What is his family’s standing in the community? What will your role be?
Do as much research as you can. Try and learn some Turkish, especially if you will be living or spending time away from the tourist areas. No one expects you to be fluent straight away, but being able to use daily greetings and navigate your way while shopping and getting around makes things much easier.
Even if your partner is not a practising Muslim, knowledge of the basic tenets and practices of Islam will help you understand his thoughts and behaviour and what happens during the Bayram holidays.
Find out as much as you can about Turkish culture. There is a wealth of information on the internet. There are several interesting websites which document other foreigners’ experiences of marrying Turks and settling in Turkey that you may find enlightening, for example, https://livingtheturkishdream.com. Join relevant Facebook pages (there are loads!) like Turkish Wives And Girlfriends, Expats in Turkey, Turkish Culture & Language, to name a few. You will discover that there are many other people in the same situation, although there are more women than men. Talk to other foreigners who have married Turks and are willing to share their experiences – both the highs and lows.
Remember, while there are those who will criticise and tell you horror stories about what happened to them, there are many more who are in very happy relationships with Turks. You might find it useful to look at a survey I did on my website: http://fayerogan.com/can-you-guess-why-79-of-foreign-women-were-attracted-to-their-turkish-men/ which produced some interesting findings.
Lastly, I wish you every happiness and the