Perihan Hanım, my fairy Godmother puppet paid an unusual visit to me tonight. You may recall meeting her, several months ago, in this post. I found her on my shoulder, stroking my hair and watching over my shoulder as I alternated between my newfound love of pinterest.com and the data analysis I am supposed to be working on tonight. I noticed her presence, but waited for her to speak.
“M’lady,” she began, in the most loving tone possible, “it is one thing to want to do good by sharing, but it is another thing to create discomfort in your loved one’s life. It is not a great discomfort as he is about to walk up the stairs and tell you, but it is enough for you to listen to. You can be true to your goals for this blog without putting in the kitchen sink, you know.”
Of course, Perihan Hanım was referring to the disagreement M. and I had the other day, and the ruminating that has been going on since about which aspects of our various responses were culture-bound. Some of this was shared in my last blog post. All is well, dear readers, no emergency here, just normal marital murky moments, as I like to call them in a lighthearted way.
Hopping off of my shoulder, my fairy Godmother floated down the stairs like the seed of an oak tree only to capture M. in her invisible turkuaz-colored ribbon and guide him up the stairs into the mango room, where we commenced to having a good and productive discussion about what does and does not go on this blog!
When I began the slowly-by-slowly book/blog project, M. and I talked about it ahead of time. He said “I support you no matter what and I will never censor you.” As an artist, anti-censorship has a special importance for him. From time to time, I have run posts by him to make sure that he is ok with what I am posting. While my intent is to push the envelope, so to speak, with respect to what is discussed in the public world about cross-cultural relationships – I don’t want to overstep. I thought that by sharing, normalizing the challenges of cross-cultural marriage without the vilification that is so common in what writing exists out there, I would help some people to not feel quite so alone or confused in their own marital murky moments.
In many ways, this blog is about a reaction to the seemingly constant stereotypes about men from Muslim countries – that they are macho, patriarchal, have many wives, abusive, fill-in-the-blank negative adjective, falan (yadda yadda). I do feel that it is obvious that all couples have disagreements and challenging moments…but I see that we have reached a cultural impasse on the limits of sharing – when it is it ok to share and when is it not. Is it a Turkish tradition to be fiercely private? I am not sure one could lump that in as Turkish. Is it a Turkish tradition to be fiercely loyal to one’s family? In M.’s family, yes, thus the use of a pseudonym here…much to my regret. Is it a Yankee tradition to be private and loyal? Yes, but somehow I have broken the mold on the Yankee side of my cultural upbringing.
As our friend A. likes to say, we work hard to “take care of each other” and this should involve as much “holding out the light for one another” as possible. So, thank you, A. and thank you Perihan Hanım for your words and wisdom. It takes a village to raise a marriage, and thank goodness for it.
- Surviving and thriving: Christmas 2011 with the Karagöz puppet troupe (slowly-by-slowly.com)
- Tradition:Karagöz is ready to rock (the boat on Christmas) (slowly-by-slowly.com)
- The Twelve Days of Christmas: Karagöz puppet-style (slowly-by-slowly.com)