For the first time in a long time I felt deeply understood

Names: Meltem & Hakan

Status: Married

Been together since: 1996

 

Our 6th anniversary and Meltem is pregnant with our twin girls. Our beloved amphora is photo bombing us.

 

Meltem: We met in Ankara, Turkey, in the modern music choir. Three years went by and we didn’t even notice each other as we were both in committed relationships with other people at the time.

As fate would have it, we both ended up getting separated from those partners. I guess that was when the wheels of destiny were subtly set in motion.

The turning point came when I moved homes and ended up in a place very close to where he lived. It was common amongst our choir for people to carpool. I thus ended up in Hakan’s car regularly as he dropped us all home after practice every evening.

I got to know him better as we started hanging out more and more. Saying that, one time, when a few of us were having a few beers, I do remember thinking, ‘Gosh, I don’t think I could ever marry a guy like him.’ Little did I know!

Hakan: One day I ended up inviting her and a friend of hers over for some seafood at my place. The funny thing is, it was actually her friend that I had my eyes on. By the end of dinner, I still didn’t see Meltem as anything more than a friend but I had definitely eliminated the other girl as a potential love interest.

Then Meltem returned the invite by asking me to come over for coffee as I was always dropping her home. And that’s when it all began.

Meltem: It was the day before New Years Eve. Hakan joined myself and my flat mates for coffee at my place in the afternoon.

He had his coffee and the conversation got deeper and deeper.

The hours were ticking away very quickly and it was almost time for dinner. We started cooking. I asked him to stay for dinner and he said yes.

I used to like having a gin-Fanta after dinner back then, so I asked him if he would like one too and he said yes once again. He wasn’t saying no to anything at all that night.

We had one drink after the other and he ended up getting very drunk! We were talking and talking, we just couldn’t stop. We talked until the sun came up.

Something happened to me that night and my perception of him shifted completely. I had always wanted to be with someone that I could share everything with, someone who got me, but had been feeling there was no one like that out there. But that night, for the first time in a long time, I felt deeply understood. This was something new, something immensely refreshing.

Hakan: I got very, very drunk that night, so drunk that the whole room was spinning. This embarrasses me to this day but I actually threw up that night. I wasn’t used to it.

The next morning we said we would forget about that night… but I couldn’t. I called her, I wanted to see her again.

The choir. Meltem is the first on the lower right corner and Hakan just below the fellow on the highest upper right corner.

Meltem: Our choir was having a New Years Eve party that night. He called me and suggested we attend together. It was my turn to say yes and off we went.

The trend continued; I would be at home during the weekends but would stay at my mom’s during the week. Hakan kept calling and asking me out: to the movies, to go get something to eat… but we were officially just ‘hanging out’. We still did not call ourselves a couple at that point, there was no talk of a relationship, or love, but it was very obvious that we were getting along very well.

Hakan: Meanwhile, there had actually been another girl that I had been flirting with prior to all this. I had been working on setting up the foundation of our relationship for a while and things were looking good. She happened to be away in Istanbul for term break but she was soon to return and we were going to make it official… it was exactly at that point that Meltem had happened out of the blue.

Meltem: That was going on with him and I on the other hand was feeling very liberated as I had gotten out of a very long relationship just 3 months ago. I also had a few platonic crushes that had been brewing, a little innocent flirting here and there. Hakan and I had openly discussed the people who were interested in us, we both knew there were many other paths we could take that would lead us in opposite directions and away from one another.

Soon, I increasingly started feeling that things were quite blurry and we needed to define what was going on between us so I spoke to him about it.

I told him we were either friends or we were more than friends. We had to decide and act accordingly. It wasn’t a problem either way, but we were neither here nor there and it simply had to be clarified.

I told him to take his time and think about it. If he wished to be with the other person who was about to return to Ankara, that was absolutely fine with me too – he just needed to sort out what was in his heart and decide.

Hakan: And then she wrote me a letter.

Meltem: Oh, that was actually very interesting, very surreal.

See, Hakan, everything about him, his thoughts, his ways, his intelligence, had made quite an impression on me and I was very moved on all levels by him.

I was at work one day. And out of the blue, a voice inside me told me to just write to him. I was downstairs on my lunch break and I was suddenly overcome by a very strong burst of energy at this thought. I literally flew up 10 flights of stairs and was back at my desk in a flash. I got my pen and paper and just starting writing.

I started pouring out everything that was in my heart: what an effect he had had on me, how this whole encounter had made me feel… everything!

The strangest thing was, the pen was moving on paper almost on its own: my hand felt like it was possessed by an unseen force, the words didn’t feel like they were coming from me but being channeled from somewhere beyond my conscious self.

Hakan: She had written that she wasn’t sure she would even give me that letter – she had never felt this way before and didn’t quite know how to handle it. It wasn’t a cheesy declaration of love but a very articulate expression of what this whole encounter had awakened in her.

Meltem: I had no ulterior motive behind it. I was just auto-writing whatever was coming out. But I did end up giving it to him. I think it actually got him somewhere deep.

Hakan: For sure it did – it blew my mind! Having awakened these emotions in a woman was really a very different kind of feeling. I was in awe of the strange energy that was generated from spending time together that had given rise to her wanting a relationship with me.

It was like a dream come true, to be wanted with this sincerity by her. The fact that she had so courageously opened up to me also had a deep effect on me. And it wasn’t a demanding letter by any means. She had just shared what was in her heart. It was a very open and spontaneous letter.

Meanwhile, the other lady was also in the picture.

I knew I had to resolve that situation before getting into anything with Meltem. Funny, my ex-girlfriend was called Meltem, this other girl was also called Meltem and with my Meltem too – there were 3 Meltems in my heart-circle at that point. These were pre-cellphone days so imagine the confusion when I used to come home and my mother told me that Meltem had called.

I had a friend, also called Hakan, who knew both myself as well as Meltem quite well. I decided to ask for his advice about this.

By the end of my story he said, “Just listen to yourself! Listen to all the things you have been saying about her. Why do you even think you need advice? Your feelings are really very clear. And you know what? I know you and I know her – you guys will probably end up marrying each other!”

It made so much sense, it was so true – everything had been crystal clear all along but I just hadn’t been able to see it.

Meltem: We spoke the next day and made it official – we were a couple now. I had even quit smoking the day before as I knew he hated smoking. So it served a very good double-purpose.

Hakan: Then the other Meltem returned from term break.

Meltem: He had invited her to join our choir before all this had happened, so she showed up! We actually ended up having to sit next to each other as there were no other seats available. I remember looking at her and thinking, “Hmmm, well she isn’t all that.”

Hakan: It was a very strange situation as they were sitting next to each other right in front of me – the girl who was supposed to become my girlfriend and the one who actually ended up becoming my girlfriend.

Meltem: We actually had to car pool together on the way back too. Hakan first dropped me off and then took the other Meltem to have something to eat.

Hakan: I told her we needed to talk. I told her absolutely everything: how I had had all these feelings for her and was going to open up to her, how things had very unexpectedly happened with someone else while she was away, that I felt pretty awful and that I hoped she understood and was okay with it. At first, she was taken aback and silent but after a slight pause said, “I would like to thank you for your honesty.” She said she wasn’t used to a man being so open about these things and that she really appreciated it.

Needless to say, she never attended the choir again.

Year 2001 in the Blenheim Palace, UK, while Hakan was doing his masters. That year was not a bed of roses for us but we made it through.

Meltem: So our relationship started. In a few months we went on a holiday.

I had had a few issues that were bugging me about Hakan. It was actually pretty severe; I had pretty much decided I was going to break up with him after we returned from our trip. I hadn’t discussed any of this with him.

We went on holiday and the weirdest thing happened. I can’t call it anything except an epiphany. In my mind’s eye, I saw a road, a very bright road and heard a voice in my head telling me that I needed to go down this road with this man. It was completely out of my control. It wasn’t that I was madly in love with him at that point, we were in a very suited, logical relationship but this thing inside me just kept pushing me towards Hakan. It was a very intuitive thought I was receiving from God knows where that was showing me that I had a journey ahead of me with this man.

I changed my mind.
We stayed together.

We had both had our share of relationships and felt we were at another point in our lives. We said let’s be very open and honest with each other, let’s say exactly what we feel and hide nothing.

So we did.

Hakan meanwhile had started his military service. We went on a quick holiday during a weekend break. We were in a truly magical place in Turkey called Cappadocia, which is well known for its clay pots and amphoras amongst other things. We were blown away by the beauty of this art and fell in love with a particular amphora. We saw that we couldn’t afford to buy it unless we shared the cost, which is what we did. We realized later that that was the moment we had both subconsciously decided that we would get married. We still have that amphora and the sentimental value it holds for us cannot be measured.

In a few months we took the official decision to get married.

With our twin daughters in Dubai Miracle Garden, UAE, in 2013.

Hakan: It was a terribly busy period in my life: I was working, was in a rock band as the singer, was doing translations on the side and the choir activities were also still ongoing – I guess all this impressed her. But then my military service came along. Now, that wasn’t too impressive.

It was difficult, being so restricted. Thankfully, I ended up being posted in Ankara and Meltem would come see me every weekend equipped with delicious food that she had cooked herself and we would spend the weekend together.

We actually got married while I was still doing my military service. I got posted to Istanbul to complete the final part of my service but I don’t think I ever spent a single minute in town despite being posted there for so long as I was busy spending every spare minute I had visiting Meltem in Ankara.

What advice do you have for anyone who is looking for love?

Meltem: Although I believe in destiny I also think that one should always visualize exactly the type of person they would like to share their lives with: their personality, the way they look – everything. They should leave absolutely nothing out and this person will definitely show up. I had a very clear idea on the type of person I definitely could be with and also about what I did not want, since I was a little girl in fact, and Hakan showed up.

Hakan: I always had this personal rule: I would never date a girl that I wouldn’t marry and I never, ever did. I met some ladies along the way and I never pursued them, despite their interest in me, as my deal breakers would kick in.

So one should really know what kind of person they want and only approach people that fit the description. Ponder about who you wish to share your life with and go after that with focus. Don’t knock on the wrong door.

For me it was always very important to have a girl who was intelligent, who had self-respect and a good sense of self. I focused and never veered off that vision.

Cappadocia always remained a very special place for us. Small escapade there and we fully intended to sleep in but ended up waking up at 4 am to go for a hot air balloon ride.

What advice do you have for couples going through a hard time?

Meltem: Patience is very important. Always try to understand the other person. And always explore every single route to try to solve the problem. Rinse off any prejudices you have, talk openly and honestly. Be open to getting professional help. If all of this fails and there really seems to be no way out, especially if you don’t have any children, then perhaps it’s best not to push it too much.

Hakan: It is also important to define what tough times may mean: is there any abuse going on? This could be verbal or physical; this is a whole different ball game. However, if there is nothing severe such as that then perhaps it is good to be objective and brutally honest with yourself and take a very good look at yourself for the sake of the good days you had.

One should always look at themselves first objectively before blaming the other person, openly tell each other what the other person might have done and how this affected you with an open and non-critical approach.

You need to have a clean head, clean heart. Stay away from ego, negative energy, jealousy and unnecessary power struggles.

On top of this, one should always try their best to increase the good days that are had, increase the joy.

We have always been very outdoorsy and love adventures. This is Bolu, Turkey, in 2015 with our twin girls.

One thing I have learnt about love is…

Meltem: If passionate love turns into love-love in time, then it is a blessed thing. When this love is coupled with deep friendship, someone you can rely on with your eyes closed, then this is a wonderful thing, then it all comes together. This is a very different feeling.

Hakan: Love is a chemical explosion by nature that lasts for a long while. Imagine, we can’t even tolerate ourselves most of the time, imagine tolerating another person! This requires some good wizardry, a good magic potion. And this is what passionate love provides. Oxytocin and serotonin – these are the culprits. But the love that you have in hand when the chemical side of things calms down is the one you have to use to build your foundation upon. Then you never take the other person for granted and always strive to build on top of this foundation.

You always have to make an effort and always show kindness and approach issues with good intentions. The passionate, crazy side will calm down, this is a chemical inevitability, but the love remains.

The most important thing I reckon though is being able to have the will and desire to perpetuate the feeling of connectedness, of bonding. Loneliness is a terrible, painful thing. It is very special for one to find an outlet for their feelings through the existence of another person. Being able to feel connected on a soul level to someone is a rare and special thing to find.

This is a way to get closer to the divine: through love. We are all one in this world. All existence is from a single root.

Love is freedom.

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