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Love, marriage and other complexities

Ebru Keskin

Ebru Keskin

Many cultures dictate a certain path that one must follow in order to show that their life has been of one of success and lived well. These are the rites of passage through one’s life. The rites of passage mark the notable events from birth on wards. However it seems that we tend to develop hang ups about certain rites of passage such as marriage. From a young age a Turkish girl is brought up with the knowledge that one day when they have flourished into a young lady they should be picked by a man for her hand in marriage. This many of you will protest is an old fashioned view in the modern times we live in now but yet as always need I remind that Turkey is almost 75 million strong and possibly less than half that population are not living in modern conditions. They have a culture driven mind-set that is still faithful to its true origins that have not been watered down and meshed with an European way of living. 

Growing up we went to weddings all the time, at younger ages like 4, 5, 6 I turned up to weddings in my smaller replica of the brides gown with my hair adorned with flowers. Holding my mums hand I never thought much of the fact that I was in fact this weird little Chucky bride that was replicating such a grown up act of becoming a bride. Wedding after wedding that I attended with my family, mum looked on to the bride with dreamy thoughts in her head of me and my sister growing up and getting married. The sense of pride she felt, when people saw me in my little bride costume and commented that one day I would make such a beautiful bride, was apparent to me at that age. I took this to mean that growing up and getting married was something that I should aspire to and achieve in order to make my parents proud. There have been even occasions at weddings when mum would turn to me and say that one day I would be a lovely bride and be so happy…Hold on a minute! Why was I wearing what is obviously a grown woman’s dress that signifies that she is now ready to become a woman? Why were mum and other crazy people around her telling a six year old what a beautiful bride she would make? This all sounds insane to me now that I am older and hopefully a lot wiser. The ironic part of all this is the fact that, this nation who plan their six year old's wedding in their mind, cannot then face realities of life later on to sit down and explain the complexities of being a woman and physical relationships. These are all shrouded in secrecy and simply implied through secretive code words that you are expected to understand somehow.  It was permitted for me to be planning my wedding and to even consider the dress I would wear at six years old, but at sixteen it was somewhat wrong that I wanted to date or see boys as anything other than friends. Right, that makes perfect sense!

As I grew older mum began to get tearful at weddings, this is when I realised that this could no longer be endured and stopped attending weddings. Even the bad whisky laid out on the tables at weddings was not suppressing the pain of the weddings for me anymore.

Not attending weddings didn't actually deal with the situation, it got worse after university when people would comment that now my studies were out of the way I should be considering settling down before it’s too late. This was the last thing on my mind; I needed a job, a holiday, to move out and be independent! Marriage was not a thought and certainly not a priority at that time. Mum has ideals you see, she wanted the perfect Turkish man, same religion as me, she even wanted him to be from the same region and town that she was from…living two thousand miles away from there; it was a tall order. As the ever so obliging good daughter that I am, I assured her that ‘sure mum, you find him and I will marry him’…she is still searching bless her. Also she wants the tall good looking man that is educated, well mannered, from a decent family, same age as me and has a good career etc…she lives in a dream world where that man doesn't possibly exist, but she is still searching. As the years went on, and it became apparent that I was far more interested in working, going out, getting drunk and enjoyed living alone far too much to succumb to marriage, mum offered me compromises. She was willing to accept a son in law that was not from the same region…a year later… didn't have to be the same religion…a year later… didn't even have to be Turkish! Currently I could possibly turn up with E.T to announce our engagement and mum would be ecstatic. I am not old, just far too independent which worries her as she claims it is something I would not be willing to give up. She is not half wrong. Living alone for years makes you so self-sufficient and happy in your own company, you begin to hate stay overs, staying visitors…

Thankfully for mum one of her daughters turned out to be sensible and good. She got married in a fairy tale manner and looking like the perfect princess. This calmed mum for several years and kept her off my back. Little did I know that this would set the standard and become something that I was constantly compared to. ‘But your sister is so happy and look what a wonderful man she married, look at how perfect their marriage is…look at her beautiful children…’ Yes I see all that, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it is the right time for me or that I must follow in the same path as her. 

It shouldn't be a race to get married and it certainly should not be dictated with expectations. There was even time ‘limits’ and ‘goals’ to aspire to regarding the ideal age to be married and previously for the ladies this was 25. 25? Are you kidding? This is not enough time to grow up, do all the things you want to do and settle down sated with life. This is also another warped though about marriage, its restrictions and what it means to be married.  It of course doesn't have to be like that and with the right partner life can be joyous. Many partners continue to live their lives in full and even more fulfilled with the right partner by their side that complete and complement them. It must be a fantastic feeling to have the emotional and financial support of a partner by your side through the thick and the thin of it all.

Whilst there must be endless benefits to being married this doesn't mean that being single should be seen as a temporary status that we are all trying to change. Everything comes to us in the right moment; we just need to be patient.

It is far too often that I am seeing friends around me who are rushing to become part of a couple. Friends who are forcing impossible relationships to happen or spending years trying to get a man to propose to them and then when the man doesn't do just that swiftly moving on to the next person who will just take them to be their wife. This is all warped to me and I fail to see the rush of things. With so many people who are divorced or simply living together it doesn't always make sense to be married for everyone. Everyone should go with what’s right for them and not try to live up to cultural or social expectations of how their life was supposed to turn out. Many people live together in perfect harmony without requiring a licence as a declaration of their partnership, others think that it makes more legal and financial sense to be married so the government can get of their back and give them some tax relief. However I cannot go by without stating that if your girlfriend of 18 years has started turning up to other peoples weddings in a full white lace gown you should just go ahead and marry the lady, if only to stop her from ruining other brides day by upstaging them…especially when the girlfriend in question is a stunner and the unfortunate bride was not so aesthetically pleasing to the eye. You know who you are!

A lot of young people marry early on and seem to be happy for the rest of their life with that person, some feel that early 30’s is possibly the best age to be married as we are then wiser and calmer therefore better able to make better choices.

When it comes to dating, love and marriage it’s probably best to play it by ear and customise it to suit the individual. We are all unique beings that have unique needs and could not possibly be happy living a carbon copy life standardised by culture and social norms.

At a time when people are younger and healthier it doesn't make any sense to feel left out or running behind. There isn't a right age for anything. Even having children at a later age is not such an issue these days. It makes sense to wait for things to happen naturally, rest assured that you will not die alone or be bored in your old age with nothing to do. Thanks to our ever so thoughtful government who do not want to allow such a horror, they have ensured that we do not retire too young and therefore be left without anything to do.  Considering the amount that I smoke, drink and spend sleepless I predict that I won’t possibly make it to the retirement age, there should be an option to be at least able to choose how our retirement funds will be used by the government. I would like mine to be used to research alcohol without calories please.  You should be liberated in the thought that failing it all you will get to work until the end of your days and possibly kneel over and die at your desk.

A fortune teller once told me that I would get married three times. When I gave this information to mum she knocked on wood three times and said ‘god forbid such a thing’ Oh the horror of it all, divorce…getting married again…divorce again. Divorce is another completely separate topic that also seems to be a taboo somehow. As it’s a matter of interpretation by the individual, the way that I saw what the fortune teller told me was that I would get to wear a gorgeous dress three times and have three parties. The fortune teller also told me the third marriage would be the one that fit perfectly. I don’t believe in fortune tellers but a part of me mischievously wants to shock my poor little mum and go marry someone outrageous just to divorce them in a very much rock and roll style. It could be fun; this idea of getting three shots at marriage.  If the fortune teller is by some small remote chance right…I imagine my first marriage to be to a random stranger in Vegas whilst drunk, second marriage to be someone hot, hot, hot and simply just that, and finally for the third marriage I see…I don’t know what I see! When it comes to making sensible choices in life I am at a loss sometimes, it’s always when making wild impulsive choices that I seem to get it just right. It’s probably best to wait to see how life turns out. I am in no way in any rush right now. As the Turks say it ‘To be a bachelor is to live like a Sultan’.  I shall continue to live like the sultans, enjoying the freedom and carelessness of being single and without ties. For me marriage seems like nothing more than a prison sentence that must be succumbed to eventually. One day I shall turn myself in…right now I am an outlaw living like a fugitive.  Every year feel like it’s much too soon, just like a fugitive I keep giving myself more time…another five years…

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