Gender and Identity Construction: Women of Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Turkey

By Feride Acar; Ayşe Günes-Ayata | Go to book overview

CHANGING GENDER ROLES AND MARITAL SATISFACTION
IN TURKEY

E. OLCAY İMAMOĞLU

Ahmet Haşim, a well-known Turkish poet, wrote: “In every language the topic of poetry is not the wife but the lover; what can be more tasteless than a story where the main character is a wife and the topic is marriage?” Thus, according to Haşim, the topic of this paper is a rather tasteless one, marriage; and the characters are not just wives but husbands as well. Specifically, my goal in this paper is to provide an overview of the factors associated with the marital satisfaction of Turkish women and men.

The literature on marital relationships has been generally limited to Western-style love marriages. This body of knowledge needs to be complemented by studies of love marriages from other types of cultures (e.g., more collectivistic rather than individualistic cultures), as well as by studies of other types of marriages (e.g., family arranged marriages) (İmamoğlu and Yasak 1997). In this regard, Turkey represents an ideal setting in which to explore different types of marriages and their associations with marital satisfaction.


1. The setting

Turkish society has been going through a period of rapid social change in the recent past. During the Ottoman Empire period, which lasted for almost 600 years, marriages were arranged in accordance with the traditional religious law. Thus, they were mostly arranged by elder kinsmen and the prospective spouses were consulted only at the discretion of their kinsmen. After the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923, the Swiss Civil Code was accepted in 1926 as the basis for Turkish family law. The civil marriage ceremony, compulsory since then, requires the presence and the freely expressed intention and consent to the marriage of the marrying couple. Parental consent is not required if the partici-

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