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Monday, 14 May 2012

Cultural differences

Anyone in a mixed race marriage, living in a foreign country, will experience problems in adjusting to the differences in culture.  It's inevitable that there will be misunderstandings and confusion at times.

It takes an awful lot of understanding and compromise to make such a marriage work.

For the most part, I think I have adjusted well to life in Turkey for almost 14 years.  I embrace a lot of the differences.  I like the way the Turkish people are so welcoming, so willing to go the extra mile to help you if you have a problem, so unlike the indifference I often experienced when living in the UK.

I like the neighbourliness..not just in villages where it's almost expected, but in every area where we have lived.  They welcome you to their community.  They bring you produce from their gardens, food they have cooked, and I enjoy returning the favours.

There are some things though which I find difficult to live with.  If you marry a Turk, you marry his family.  Of course there are positives to this but some foreign women find it suffocating and often this can be the cause of the marriage breaking down.

I consider myself fortunate that we have never lived close to Mr A's family, so there has been no interference.  We have just lived our own lives without being controlled by his family.

Things changed when we moved to this village, to the house "given" to us by my FIL.  As much as he insists that this is our home, it doesn't actually feel like it.  His name is still on the deeds, as it also is on the houses he has given to his two other children.  It really means that he can come and go as he pleases.

In theory I don't have a problem with welcoming Mr A's family to stay in our home (even thought FIL and I dislike each other), but I do find it difficult to come to terms with the way in which Turkish families can turn up whenever they feel like it, often without prior warning, and stay as long as they like.  It is really not the done thing to ask them when they are coming or how long they will stay.  According to Mr A to do so would cause offence, and would show lack of respect.

Last week Mr A mentioned that FIL would be bringing Mr A's grandfather here for a visit.  Seeing how distraught Mr A was, and still is, over the recent death of his elderly grandmother, I certainly felt that this was a good idea, and of course will make him welcome.  The fact that I have to also put up with the spitefulness of FIL at the same time, isn't a pleasant prospect, but I will rise above it.

The problem lies with the fact that we have no idea when they are coming.  I have a couple of friends who would like to come and stay, at different times, but I can't make plans to accommodate them because I don't know when FIL and GFIL will be here.

I have tried to get Mr A to ask his father to give some idea when they will be coming, but he won't ask, because he feels, like most Turks, that families are entitled to come and go to each others homes as and when they like.  I suggested that I ring his father to ask, tactfully of course, but Mr A insists that this is rude, that his father will take offence and not come.  Which means of course that grandfather won't be coming either...and for Mr A's sake, I don't want that to happen.

Mr A says family are more important than friends.  Of course I agree up to a point, but my friends are important to me, particularly those living in different parts of this country.  They make up in many ways for the lack of time spent with my own family.

So I asked Mr A what would happen if I invited friends to stay and his family turn up while they are here.  He can't see that it's a problem.  He says they can all stay.  We only have one spare bedroom, so where would they all sleep?   You see, the Turks have no problem at all with filling a room full of people, happy to sleep on the floor.   I admire the way they are so adaptable, but I can't live like this, and I can't expect my friends to be squashed into a room to sleep with people they don't know.  They, like me, would expect more privacy.

So...it's a problem.  One I can't seem to overcome, however hard I try.

Am I being unreasonable?  I'm beginning to think I haven't adapted so well to this life as I thought I had.

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22 comments:

  1. If the family in question weren't so disfunctional it wouldn't be a problem....

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  2. I'd stand your ground. My in-laws aways let us know when they are coming and going and haven't taken offence in 28 years. This stemmed from when we only had one spare room and I explained that as my folks had to book flights etc, we had to have planned visits. If you and your FIL don't get on anyway, you've nothing to lose by giving him a ring and pinning down his dates.

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    1. How fortunate to have such accommodating in-laws BtoB.

      I have considered ringing him myself, but I know this won't work. Last year Mr A actually managed to establish a particular date when FIL and MIL were coming for a visit. Guess what? They turned up a week earlier without warning. My friend Gwen was staying. All her stuff was in the spare room. FIL and MIL just marched in there and started unloading their stuff. Gwen left because she felt uncomfortable...not surprisingly.

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  3. How difficult for you. B to B's advice sounds so sensible though...and as she says, if you offend FIL......it cant get any worse can it. Hope the situation improves...and I hope Mr A appreciates how hard it is for you. J

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    1. Janice, BtoB's advice is good...but see my reply to her!

      I don't think Mr A actually does realise how hard it is. He really doesn't get it!

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  4. I'm lucky that my Spanish in-laws are lovely. Different 'rules' apply to privacy though and my m-i-l often 'borrows' my things, forgetting to ask before or to tell me afterwards. I honestly don't mind as she is so generous herself. They don't like to be pinned down about visiting arrangements though...and when they come, they are never very clear about the return date - but have never outstayed their welcome.

    In your case, I can see you have a problem and agree with Fly - most families would be more thoughtful and be prepared to provide information. It is purely selfish behaviour on your FIL's side. Hope you manage to sort something out.

    Axxx

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    1. Annie. It's lovely that you have such a good relationship with your in-laws. Most of Mr A's family are really lovely, it's really FIL that's the fly in the ointment. He seems to enjoy making life as difficult as he can for people...it's not just me,which is a little reassuring.

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  5. So sorry you still have to go through some more FIL issues. I can understand how you feel, sitting there waiting and waiting. I don't see a 'coming' problem if Mr. A could phone his Father and just ask.....when??????? I hope Mr. A can appreciate that this is getting to you.
    My husband's family is nothing like this.....I love when his sister comes here for a month or more and always asks my husband if she stays will this be a problem for me. But then we live clear across the other side of the world so who knows could be different if we were in the same country.

    Wishing you luck and I hope you can clear this issue up and hopefully Mr. A will call and ask and realize how difficult this is impacting on you.

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    1. Erica, I think it is different with your sister-in-law, simply because she has to take flights to get there, so you will of course know when she is arriving and leaving. In any case, I think FIL does this on purpose just to unsettle me.

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  6. I can quite see your dilemma. This cultural thing can be difficult to grasp as there are so many differences.
    My son's Japanese wife took off because she says the English are a terrible lot. Can't understand how anyone can leave their children (though I'm glad she did.) She divorced him for another horrid Englishman. (He is really rather nice, so I've been told.)
    Nowt so queer as folk, so my mother used to tell me.

    Hope you can reach some satisfactory arrangement. Have you tried discussing the problem with the friends. They might come up with something you never thought of.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

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    1. It's often hard to deal with cultural differences, and I do think it can cause the breakdown in a mixed race marriage if one refuses to compromise. I do think I manage this pretty well most of the time...well I've managed for 14 years!
      Yes I could talk to friends who plan to visit..I may have to.

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  7. Telll your FIL he is welcome anytime except from X onward, wiith X being a few days after your last guests have left. Chances are, that's when he will pitch up.

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    1. Ooh a sneaky idea Joan....I like it! And welcome to my blog.

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    2. Thank you Ayak, I have been loitering here for a while-- I made myself right at home! ;)

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    3. Glad to hear it Joan xx

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  8. Hello dear Ayak ! Today, trying to find an image of gözleme making, I discovered your blog ! I just read some posts of you, saw the images of your darlings, and think I understand deeply your nostalgia... Me it's in the other direction, as I count the days to go back to Turkey :))
    I had to laugh reading your post, even if I realize it's not funny for you. Ah... I would never dream of asking my father (babam) when he will come as the door to my home is open for him whenever he wants to come, but I know that my Mother (meine Mutti) gets kind of upset too, when people don't say exactly when they come ... Yes, it is something quite usual, in Turkey. It's a way to say there is no border, just a door between people ...For organisation, it sucks... sure. Wish you a nice evening
    If your father in law would treat you like a daughter in law it would be impolite of him. You are supposed to be like his daughter... so like me and my baba. I know, it doesn't help you. <3

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    1. Hello bixby and welcome to my blog. It's great to get the Turkish perspective on this issue. It's not that Mr A's family are not welcome...of course they are...but as you say it doesn't help with trying to organise things.

      I think your last comment summed it up for me. If FIL actually treated my like his daughter-in-law, I'm sure things would be very different xx

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    2. ... hoşbulduk ! Just one tiny detail : it's the "mixed" perspective, in fact, as I'm the result of such an union. As I love dearly both of my parents, it's simply so sweet to read you.

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    3. Oh I see bixby...well it's even more interesting for me to have your views on this issue. Thankyou x

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  9. Ayak, this is actually a very big cultural difference for most Britons nowadays. I would find it very hard to adapt to a society where 'my house is your house' is the norm, so I do feel for you. I rather like Joan's devious suggestion and reckon it might have a good chance of success. :-)

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    1. I like Joan's suggestion too Perpetua. I'm having a good think about this one!

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