Experts say one of the most stressful events in life is a divorce. It is the nail in the coffin of a failed marriage. When I married my Turkish Romeo seven years ago, I never imagined, it would end in divorce. Sure, there were cultural issues but we always managed to resolve them and many people often remarked that we were a good couple.
Therefore, to sit here and write about my recent divorce is quite surreal. Even more strange, is while the marriage break up was stressful, the divorce that followed was rather comical and to my surprise, it is very quick and easy to get divorced in Turkey.
Our situation was easier than most though. Our house belonged to my parents. I had always refused to spawn any devil children and we had no major assets between us.
For this reason, it was agreed not to use blood-sucking lawyers of which I trust none who reside in Turkey.
We met in a local café to discuss the basics and I had two stipulations. I wanted to keep my surname, because by law, I had to revert to my maiden name unless the husband agrees. I also wanted money from the savings account.
Hence, this is where the verbal abuse started!
After a lot of verbal abuse and threats going both ways, we agreed I would get 50% before going to court and the other 50% when the divorce had been finalized.
The Day of the Divorce
My soon to be ex-husband was already there but refused to look me in the face. His arms were crossed and a tense frown lay on his forehead.
We sat on the row of chairs backed against the wall. Another other couple waiting were separated by a friend or family member sitting between them and both had the same frowned appearance that was adorning my husband’s face.
I turned to face him. “How are you?” I said
Conversation was difficult and he only replied with one-word answers so I gave up and sat back.
“Who is your new boyfriend?” he mumbled
“I do not have one” I said.
“Do not lie to me” he replied sternly.
Such is the town that we live in; the gossip vine had been red hot about my romance with another man. My husband repeated where I had been and what I had done. I was not at all surprised at this reaction.
Turkish men are like wolves concerning their women. They operate in packs, eagerly reporting back where girlfriends and wives have been seen.
Also social decorum in Turkey dictates that while my marriage is over, I should not be embarrassing my husband by being seen out in public with another man. However, he can be seen with other women and this is acceptable.
I refused to discuss it anymore but found it rather amusing that all the gossip had been wrong and obvious stalking of my Facebook page, means many incorrect assumptions had been made.
Then something quite strange happened. We continued talking but gradually the tone of the conversation changed. In the blink of an eye, we were laughing and joking like the old days. The electricity that had disappeared from our marriage years ago suddenly came back.
The secretary called us in to finalise the formalities but we were still playing around like a couple of children.
They asked why we were finishing the marriage. We stood there, arm in arm, smiling and laughing and declared we were not happy and wanted different things in life.
The office staff looked at each other with raised eyebrows and repeated the question three times. This just made us laugh even more.
“Ok, you can leave now. Wait outside for the judge to call you” they said with a confused look on their faces.
The judge called us in to a large room. His chair was elevated on a wooden bench and we sat separately at desks opposite each other. A woman taking notes on the computer introduced us and the procedure started.
So you might think at this point, we would be serious but we looked at each other from across the room and smiled. Both of us had to cover our mouths to stop laughing.
I winked at my husband with a big smile. He raised his eyebrows, trying to fake a serious look and then smiled, trying to stifle his laugh.
Finalising the Divorce
The judge turned to me and started asking questions but he had a squeaky voice and spoke too fast for me to understand him, despite my newfound passion for conversing in Turkish, wherever I went.
At this point, I decided I needed a translator and a mad dash was made around the courthouse to find one for me. A small stocky man walked in. He had a nice smile and introduced himself nervously.
I am sure he expected walk into a room, full of tense atmosphere, but the jolly bravado going back and forth between me and my husband confused him.
Within five minutes, the deal was done. We were divorced. My ex-husband and me thanked everyone, smiled and walked out.
I am still unable to believe what happened in the courtroom that day. How ironic that it would take the breakup of our marriage for us both to smile and be friends again.
My ex-husband has decided that he no longer wants to live in this town. Yesterday he went for an interview in the city of Batman, on the other side of Turkey. He wants to move there, away from memories and his life with a foreigner. I wished him luck and asked him to keep in touch.
The ironic thing is we were married on October the 5th 2006
We were divorced on October the 4th 2013
What life lessons have I learned from my divorce?
That nothing is black and white in life, just grey. A rather shitty shade of grey, full of confusion, doubt and uncertainty about what the future holds. But I like that. I thrive on the unexpected and I am up for the challenge.
I do not regret my marriage. He is a hardworking, decent man but was not meant to be in my life forever and I seriously doubt I will marry again.
Turkish men are handsome, sexy, and very hot, but I can never be the woman who sits at home, cleaning the house and waiting for her man to rock her world.
I want to find my own happiness and if someone special wants to join me for the ride, they will need to respect the life lessons that my seven-year marriage to a Turkish man has taught me.
- Give me food and somewhere to sleep and I need nothing else in life.
- Let me travel and explore, then welcome me back with open arms and you will have a loyal friend forever.
- Do not wrap me in cotton wool to protect me from pain and hurt because I will just rebel. I know Turkish men do it to protect the woman they love but it is stifling.
- It is not a man’s responsibility to decide what makes me happy and what does not. I am my own person and while I try to absorb Turkish culture as much as possible, I will no longer put it before my own well-being.
- Let me be the unique woman I am and never define me as the stereotypical version of a good Turkish or English housewife. Instead, be proud to stand by my side, no matter how different I am. Try to change me and I will hate you for it.
If I ever find a man that fulfils the criteria above, I will give him my heart but until then here’s to life as a single foreign woman living in Turkey.
As the Turks would say serefe!