Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Love doesn't always run smoothly

In the comments section of my last post I was asked how I met Mr Ayak.  I suppose as we are coming up to Valentine's Day, it would seem like an appropriate time to write about it.

I was going through an emotionally difficult time in my life.  I had been married to my first husband, the father of my son and daughter for 18 years, when the marriage ended.  I rushed very stupidly into a second marriage, because I thought I couldn't cope with being on my own to raise my children.  This second marriage lasted 7 years, and it took me all that time to realise that my husband was a pathological liar and that I never really knew him at all. 

At the time I was working as Deputy Manager of a residential home for people with severe mental health problems.  The Manager was on long term sick leave so I was acting Manager as well.   We were short-staffed and I had to rely on unreliable agency staff, which often resulted in my doing 24-hour back to back shifts myself to cover the gaps.   In short...I was burning out...which so often happens to people in this area of social work.

Two single, unattached women, Angie and Anita,  did occasional shifts at the residential home and I got to know them quite well.  Anita was a frequent visitor to Turkey and she was about to go off back-packing for two weeks.  I had never been to Turkey, nor had Angie, and she talked us into going with her.  I needed a break and it seemed the perfect opportunity.   Angie and I decided to go for just a week.  So we booked our flights for August and set off with our rucksacks.  We ended up in a small marine resort called Gocek.  It was beautiful.  Anita had decided we should stay one day then set off on a route she had planned for us.  However, Angie and I had different ideas.  We were quite happy to spend the entire week in this lovely place.  So we compromised, one week in Gocek, then we would return home and Anita would set off on her own for her second week.

Mr Ayak was working at a restaurant where we ate on our first evening.  He was quite shy....very different to many of the Turks who use their charm to lure customers into their restaurants...and often into their beds!

So this was no holiday romance.  We ate there most days, and he would sit and chat.  His English was almost non-existant then, and I helped him with it.   Angie and Anita...being free and single...often went off to bars and nightclubs, but that wasn't really my thing.  Mr Ayak and I were happy to sit and chat and get to know each other.  Each evening he would walk me to the door of the hotel, and respectfully leave me there. The closest we got to any sign of romance was when he shyly asked if he might kiss me!  Which he did....chastely on the cheek!

On his day off, he bought bread, cheese and fruit and we went for a picnic....otherwise we just sat with my dictionary and phrasebook and attempted conversation.

At the end of the week, we exchanged phone numbers.  Anita set off for her second week and Angie and I returned home.  I didn't expect to hear from him again so I was quite surprised when he telephoned me a few days later.  We continued to speak on the phone and I decided to fly over to Turkey in the October.  By this time my marriage had been over for some time, and to be honest I think I was looking for an escape.  I also realised that I was beginning to become very fond of Mr Ayak.

Mr Ayak and I travelled around Turkey before finding our first home in Gumusluk.  However, I did a lot of flying back and forth.  It was a big decision...difficult on so many levels...some of which I find hard to talk about even now.

I had reservations at first about whether this relationship would work.  I was worried that I am older than him..   You also read many stories about Turkish men marrying older foreign women for their money and a visa to get to England.  Well I didn't have money...I ended up with very little from my divorce (having ignored  my solicitor's advice)...and what I did have at the time was spent on furniture, and frequent flights back to the UK.  Now of course I have absolutely nothing...and almost 12 years later we're still together.  He didn't want a visa either...he has no desire to live in the UK.   So I guess after all this time that he must love me!

It has by no means been an easy journey.  We have seperated a couple of times. The reasons were varied, but I think language and cultural differences caused a breakdown in communication.  And the fact that I would be the first to admit that I am not the easiest person to live with.  Mr Ayak is more tolerant of me than I am of him. 

I spent one of these periods living back in England on my own, and another on my own in Goreme.  Something that I should, on reflection, have done between marriages.  It served a very useful purpose.  It made me more independent and self-sufficient.  Something that has proved invaluable recently with Mr Ayak being away. It also made me realise that this is the country that I now call home, and that if I ended up on my own for some reason, this is where I would stay. wasn't your typical Shirley Valentine holiday romance, but more a love that has grown stronger over the years, in spite of (or maybe because of) the problems we have experienced along the way.  We will have been married 11 years in April.  We've both mellowed an awful lot, and we've both learned a lot of lessons along the way.  I pretty much think that we're stuck with each other now!

Love doesn't always run smoothly does it?  But it would be quite boring if it did!


  1. awwwww how wonderful of you to share... without the downs there would be no ups.. cheers :D

  2. Roasted Garlicious...that's so true!
    And welcome to my blog

  3. Oh what a lovely story - and the fact that even if you split up you would stay in your adopted country means that you are in the right place, the place you were always meant to be.

    How was the family reaction when you announced you had met someone and would be moving to Turkey?

  4. I am so glad that, despite all the problems, your life together has worked out for you both.

  5. Thanks for sharing this Mrs. Ayak, it's a great story.

  6. It's a lovely story. Certainly something to tell you Billy when he gets older...

  7. Thank you for sharing such a lovely story Ayak. I have always wondered how you met one another. Now I know. When we met in Selcuk I think you told me but I think I was so fascinated about your time in Göreme that my brain misfiled the other stuff ha ha.

    Well if Joan Collins, Demi Moore, Madonna and countless others can bag younger men why can´t you. It is becoming more and more common now and thank goodness for that.

    What an interesting life you have led Ayak. .

    P.s I loved Shirley Valentine by the way, even if she returned back to her husband (Hollywood probably dictated that).

  8. FF: The reaction was mixed as you would imagine!

    Fly, Heiko, Monalisa:
    Thankyou xx

    Chris: It does seem quite acceptable to have a younger husband these days doesn't it?
    I loved the film too. There used to be a launderette in Bodrum called Shirley Valentines...owned by an ex-pat!

  9. Such a lovely story! Love does grow stronger with time! and ofcourse one has to work a little to make it stay that way!

  10. CJ: I agree about having to work at it. We should never take anything for granted.

  11. Great story with a happy ending! It sounds like you were ready for a major life change, and you took that opportunity. Good on you!


  12. Younger men rock! Mr FF is 16 years younger than me

  13. Thank you for sharing this, I always wondered how you two managed to meet.

  14. Jes: Yes I was and in spite of the problems, I don't regret it.

    FF: I'm not sure Mr A would agree that he rocks! The Turks seem to look a lot older than they are, and there have been a few occasions when people have thought he was older than me!

    Mr H: You're welcome

  15. I hope you don't mind me reading back through some of your older posts [g] Your story sounds very sweet, with its happy ending.
    Er, if you don't mind my asking something personal... Is he a practicing Muslim? I ask because in the novel I'm writing (which takes place in 1492) my Catholic heroine marries a Muslim Ottoman man. So I was just wondering if there are habits/opinions/quirks I might be missing. I'll show the novel to my Turkish parents eventually, of course, but it's not ready for them to see yet!

  16. Deniz I'm delighted that you find my blog interesting enough to want to read more!

    My husband isn't really a practising Muslim. He doesn't go to mosque...much to the dismay of my father-in-law, who is quite a strict Muslim. Although the one thing that I do find interesting is that he, like most Muslims I think, believe that everything in life is in the hands of Allah. When the going gets tough..which it really has this past year, he just keeps saying "Allah will take care of us" he does have faith. Something I don't really share.

    Good luck with your novel by the way.

  17. Thanks for replying! They actually address that tendency in some of the research books I've been reading, and discuss whether it's fatalism or acceptance. I guess it's been a Muslim/Turkish trait for many hundreds of years!

  18. You're welcome Deniz. I really wish this acceptance or fatalism wasn't applied to driving! The way they feel that it doesn't matter how badly they drive, that if Allah decides their time is up then so be it!


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