Names: Ates & Gulsen
Relationship status: Married
Been together since: 1962
I was 17 and Ates was 23. We met in law school in Ankara, Turkey in 1962. Ates was climbing up the stairs and started talking to my friend who was standing next to me. He completely ignored me for quite a few minutes and for some strange reason I wished from the bottom of my heart for this young, smooth talking, handsome man to fall madly in love with me. Almost as if reading my mind he immediately turned to me and addressed me for the first time asking if I was in the same department as him. Our friend introduced us and he said that it was an honor to meet me – so charming! He asked me to come to the meet and greet dance that our university was holding and I said I would attend but with my girlfriends.
I saw him there, he was doing his rounds, being his usual charming self. He asked me to dance and I accepted. He said on that night that he needed to tell me something. I was hoping that he would not ask me to be his girlfriend as, being the honorable thing to do back in the day, I would have to turn him down as we had just met and I would have thought it was incredibly disrespectful for him to ask me out. I was only 17, incredibly innocent and had never been approached by anyone in that way before. What he had to tell me was very different though: despite being so young, he was divorced and had a son. It was good to know.
We continued seeing each other. He took me to the movies on one of our dates and we held hands for the first time. He told me he had had a dream where there was a man in a tuxedo and he was proposing to a beautiful woman in a pink ball gown. He asked me what the girl should say. I said, “Well she should say yes of course,” without realizing he was symbolically asking me to marry him.
Ates is actually from Istanbul and had to move back there. Our relationship carried on the good old-fashioned way – letters! Plenty of them. I monopolized the post box key for the next 5 years. We met each other only a few times during these years but our commitment was strong. We had decided to get married when I graduated and that is what happened. We got formally engaged on our 5th year together and married on our 6th year together. It has been 52 years now and we have 3 wonderful children and lovely grandchildren. Sticking together through thick and thin has brought us here. We are happy.
What advice do you have for anyone who is looking for love?
It really is part destiny but it is a good idea to start early and have a family. Always follow your intuition and look at a person’s soul – that is where you will see if they are your soulmate or not. Always have pure intentions when looking for a partner.
What advice do you have for couples going through a hard time?
Women are a lot more nurturing and are full of love and patience. These are the strengths of a woman that are in place as we have the maternal instinct and are key in having a good relationship. Both parties should always approach all hardships with a peaceful, loving attitude. Thinking of keeping the family unit together, creating a healthy future for your children always puts things in perspective.
One thing I have learnt about love is…
Value your other half. I believe in honoring the goodness of the other person and forgiving small matters without making them into big issues due to power struggles. Always approach your other half with love and kindness. Remember, you will reap what you sow.
(Interview & write-up by Bianca)
Read more stories of these categories: Long lasting love, Long distance love.