Over lunch last week, a fellow foreign wife/girlfriend (FWAG? FWOG?) asked me that million-dollar, trillion-times-repeated question: “Are you guys planning to get married then?”
This is not an unreasonable question to ask, I admit. E and I have been together for almost three years now, and we are both of, ahem, marrying age. Where previously this question would have made my heart race and my stomach churn with panic, and I’d have said something evasive like “Oh, I don’t know…” (as if someone else might), this time it was pleasant to note that my instinct was fairly clear. Yes, I think we will and it’ll probably be quite soon.
Then, flippantly, unthinkingly, I asked her if she’d recommend it. Whoops. In hindsight, I know I shouldn’t have asked. What I wanted was an affirmation of my likely life choice from someone who’s already made a similar one and seems to be happy with it. I didn’t want brutal honesty, but I’d evidently forgotten to pass on the memo about that.
She glanced at me sideways over her coffee and said with a dry laugh “No – you should get out of here as soon as you can.”
My heart stopped. As the silence stretched out between us, I willed her to laugh again, and tell me she was joking. Another beat passed, and the blood began to roar in my eyes, drowning out the innocent street sounds drifting up from Istiklal Caddesi below. Oh god, I thought. Oh god.
Then she laughed again.
“No, no, of course I’m joking!” she said with a grin. “If he’s the one for you and you want to get married, you should definitely do it.”
Now it was my turn to laugh – the too-loud, humourless laugh of someone who’s just narrowly avoided a grisly fate.
Yes, she’d made it into a joke, great. But that beat-too-long pause made me not quite believe her humour.
She went on to say exactly the kind of things I’d wanted to hear – that marrying a Turkish boy can be difficult but it’s worth it; that communicating clearly with each other is key; that you have to be aware of each other’s differences etc, etc.
But I wasn’t really listening anymore. Instead, I was contemplating the gut-wrenching thought that, in this situation – in our situation, the one that E and I have invested so much in creating over the last few years – no-one can give you answers. No-one can tell you whether it’s right or not. No-one can tell you whether it’s going to work or not. You have to just take a leap of faith. And I am utterly terrified.