ahhh...adjusting to life in the US with my foreign DH is so hard! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 03-12-2009, 11:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I’m a white American and my DH is Kenyan. We met and got married in Kenya and lived in East Africa for the first year of our marriage.

We moved to the US in July for my DH to go to grad school. He goes to a small university and I work in residence life at the university so we live on campus.

The residence life department is very small – I only have 7 coworkers and they all live on campus too. We are given a meal plan as part of our salary so we all eat in the cafeteria with the students.

My DH does not feel comfortable around any of my coworkers and he is constantly complaining about how they ignore him, don’t greet him, don’t include him in conversation, etc.

I think some of his complaints are valid, but sometimes I feel like he only give people one chance or jumps to conclusions.

For example, one of my coworkers made an effort to get to know DH when we first moved here. He had us over for dinner, had a long talk with just my DH, and used to invite him to play basketball all the time. Just a few weeks ago he asked my DH to play basketball again and my DH made it very clear he wasn't interested. He was the only one of my coworkers that my DH kind of liked.

Then tonight this guy walked right past my DH in the cafeteria without greeting him. Now, my DH is done with him. I feel like everyone only has one chance with my DH, and once they make one mistake he writes them off. This guy's wife just had a baby, so I mentioned that maybe he was just sleep deprived and his mind was somewhere else and my DH got so mad at me for "defending" him.

I've tried to be really understanding about this - DH never comes to any social events for residence life and we never eat with anyone from residence life anymore. Even though these people are my closest friends, I got tired of seeing DH in a bad mood after every meal that we had with them.

The residence life community is really close and these are my main friends. I have a 3 month old so I don't have many opportunities for making new friends. This is starting to effect my relationship with them because I feel like I can't do anything with them if DH is around.

He's lumped them all together and is convinced that my coworkers sat down and decided to alienate him because he's different.

I understand that is what he feels like and I've done my best to try to make DH feel comfortable and not defend my coworkers when he gets upset. But I also think he's made it very clear to them that he's not interested in getting to know them. He complains that nobody greets him but at the same time he doesn't greet them either.

this is really stressing me because i feel like i'm in the middle. of course i want to "side" with my DH but it's not like a normal job where my DH doesn't interact with my coworkers. because these are my main friends i really want DH to get along with them but he's past the point where he's willing to make any effort. I need this job in order for us to afford DH's tuition, and we'll be with these people for at least 2 more years. If I even suggest that not all of my coworkers are purposely trying to alienate him he gets really upset that i'm defending them.

how do i handle this???

Loving wife to DH and buddamomimg1.pngmama to DD (11/08) and DS (2/12)

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#2 of 22 Old 03-13-2009, 12:11 AM
 
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Hugs to you mama. Have you ever sat down with him (when baby is asleep) and asked him how he likes the United States and how he likes his grad programme? Does he want to make friends here? Maybe he will...in his own time. Does he have a special hobby or interest? Do you know if there are any other Kenyan students/staff on campus? He might be missing 'home' and enjoy getting together with someone who is also going through that.
Perhaps it might help for you to tell him how important it is for you to get along and be friendly with your co-workers since it is a small university. Perhaps mention that you don't want to force him to have to be best friends with them, but that you hang around with them alot, and you want him to be a part of that.
You could suggest a dinner or brunch at your place with one of the families (the one with the newborn) and try to re-connect with them? Perhaps show them pictures of Africa (your dh might enjoy talking about his home) and serve one typical Kenyan dish? Find some common ground?

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#3 of 22 Old 03-13-2009, 05:24 AM
 
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I could be wrong to say this, but this is a red flag for me. My ex from India was alot like this. He would get very upset with me if I didn't agree with him because I saw this differently. I wish I knew what I know now, how this is an attempt to isolate a partner, for whatever reason.

My ex always thought my family members didn't like him, or that my friends didn't like him, or ect, ect. Sometimes it was just the drivers on the road, who "tried to run him down". I was often exhausted with his conversations about how much no one liked him. There was never any positive resolution.
For me, when someone doesn't like me, I either a. worry about it till I decide to resolve it with that person, or b. don't care.

Just keep your friends, eat with them, do activities with them ect. If he doesn't want to, just let him know that you are a social person and you need to keep up this contact with the people that you all work and study with.

Hugs, and keep your eyes open. I tell you, I could have written your post 12 years ago, the University, no one not liking him, him refusing to properly social. I don't think it has to do with living in the US. It is his personality. Watchout.

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#4 of 22 Old 03-13-2009, 05:56 AM
 
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btdt

IME, it took a loooooong time for dh to adjust to the US.

One of the big issues is, he *felt* that everybody thought he was stupid because of his accent and because he comes from Africa. Some of his experiences validated that (somebody told him directly that they thought Africans were still living in trees, and were surprised to meet someone like Josiah : This was an African American persons saying that, you'd think they'd know better.), but a lot of the time it was his own self consciousness. He was always on the defensive, always upset about some percieved slight. That definitely made things worse.

I have a missionary friend who once told me that she and other missionaries always had a major adjustment period, and most went through a period of *hating* whatever country they were in, at about 6 months into their stay. It wasn't rational and they knew it, but it seemed to be a common reaction to being immersed in a culture that was really alien to everything they'd ever known. I wasn't in my dh's country long enough to experience that, but I can understand how it happens, truly. Not being able to blend in, always unsure whether I was understanding right or being understood correctly, knowing there were negative feelings about my country of origin, however hidden, and so on. It was tough. But when I was there, dh was my protector. Always with me, always doing whatever needed to be done, etc. I never really had to adjust. When we came here, he had to go out and be the "dragon slayer", in a culture that was totally foreign to him.

Give it time. And give him encouragement. The only thing that has really helped was to continually reassure him and refuse to engage when he was talking down people I *knew* meant no harm. We are now 6 years in the States and it is getting better. A lot of that has to do in part with his success--he gained a lot of self-confidence. Some of it is that his understanding of English and of the culture has improved a lot, and the connection between language and culture. Though, it still bugs him when he has to ask me for a "translation" of some phrase or reference.
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#5 of 22 Old 03-13-2009, 05:58 AM
 
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Another thought--is there a Kenyan community nearby. If not in your town then in a nearby large city? Has he met any other Africans? IOW, does he know anyone who can relate to his difficulties adjusting?
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#6 of 22 Old 03-13-2009, 09:53 AM
 
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Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post


btdt

IME, it took a loooooong time for dh to adjust to the US.

One of the big issues is, he *felt* that everybody thought he was stupid because of his accent and because he comes from Africa. Some of his experiences validated that (somebody told him directly that they thought Africans were still living in trees, and were surprised to meet someone like Josiah : This was an African American persons saying that, you'd think they'd know better.), but a lot of the time it was his own self consciousness. He was always on the defensive, always upset about some percieved slight. That definitely made things worse.

I have a missionary friend who once told me that she and other missionaries always had a major adjustment period, and most went through a period of *hating* whatever country they were in, at about 6 months into their stay. It wasn't rational and they knew it, but it seemed to be a common reaction to being immersed in a culture that was really alien to everything they'd ever known. I wasn't in my dh's country long enough to experience that, but I can understand how it happens, truly. Not being able to blend in, always unsure whether I was understanding right or being understood correctly, knowing there were negative feelings about my country of origin, however hidden, and so on. It was tough. But when I was there, dh was my protector. Always with me, always doing whatever needed to be done, etc. I never really had to adjust. When we came here, he had to go out and be the "dragon slayer", in a culture that was totally foreign to him.

Give it time. And give him encouragement. The only thing that has really helped was to continually reassure him and refuse to engage when he was talking down people I *knew* meant no harm. We are now 6 years in the States and it is getting better. A lot of that has to do in part with his success--he gained a lot of self-confidence. Some of it is that his understanding of English and of the culture has improved a lot, and the connection between language and culture. Though, it still bugs him when he has to ask me for a "translation" of some phrase or reference.
All this is so true. I've been on the other end -- I moved to be with DH. It was really tough. Although I didn't look different from other people in his country, everything made me feel self-conscious and I became very touchy, defensive, and grumpy. Just dealing with day-to-day life, even with Dh to help me, made me exhausted.

I can't say I was as defensive as it sounds your DH is, but it was tough. After nine years, I have more friends than DH, speak the language very well, am active in DS' school as a volunteer, and my career is really taking off, and have built a wonderful life for myself. that being said, it still doesn't feel like "home" and never will.

All this to say, I think Maggie's advice to not engage when your DH is venting or being unfair is a good one. Sometimes I *knew* I was being irrational and unfair, but I still just needed to get it all out there. DH was great about sitting there, listening to me, murmuring supportively, saying things like, "It sounds like it must have been really tough. . . " but not *engaging* by either really agreeing with me or defending whoever/whatever had set me off.

Hang in there.
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#7 of 22 Old 03-13-2009, 11:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the responses

cappucinosmom - my DH feels just like yours - he thinks that everyone is looking down on him because he's African. I can't deny that a lot of americans are very ignorant of Africa, and he's gotten so many stupid comments from people. i just feel like he reads into things too much - like someone doesn't greet him and he automatically assumes they don't like him because he's African.

also, kenyan culture is so warm and friendly - greeting people is huge and it's an extremely social culture. american culture is not very warm at all. when my DH gets upset i try and emphasize the cultural differences and gently tell him to try not to take it personally, but he just says i don't understand what it feels like to be a minority that is looked down upon.

and to be honest, i don't know how he feels. i was a minority in east africa, but like i said, the culture is so warm and i never felt any hostility or anyone looking down on me.

Darius mom - thanks for the suggestion - maybe he just needs to vent and i need to stop trying to make him feel better and just make sure he feels supported.

Jyotsna - I'm sorry to hear about your ex - that must have been tough. thanks for the warning - i'll keep my eyes open for red flags

Hollycrand - thanks for the suggestions. his grad program is about 50% international students, and there are several other Africans. so he does have friends and we do social things with his classmates. it just seems like he doesnt like my friends or coworkers, which is frustrating. i feel like we always hang out with his friends and never mine. i think i will invite that couple over - i get along really well with the wife and we also have a small baby, and i think my DH could be comfortable with the guy if he would only give him a chance.

we had dinner in the cafeteria with one of his least favorite of my coworkers because she spotted us and asked us flat out to join them, and i couldn't say no because that would be so rude. my DH actually had a really good conversation with her husband. i thanked him afterwards for sitting with them and told him i really appreciated him making the effort, and that it would have been really awkward for my relationship if we had declined to sit with them. it was encouraging after my frustration last night.

i don't expect him to be best friends with them, but it would be nice to be able to hang out with them without him withdrawing and getting upset every time we do.

i also dont know how to act around them - i mean, if someone was outright offensive to my DH or DD, I would want nothing to do with them. I personally don't think they are, but my DH sees it that way. so i almost feel guilty if i hang out with them, especially the one or two that he really does not like.

Loving wife to DH and buddamomimg1.pngmama to DD (11/08) and DS (2/12)

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#8 of 22 Old 03-14-2009, 01:17 AM
 
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also, kenyan culture is so warm and friendly - greeting people is huge and it's an extremely social culture. american culture is not very warm at all.
This was the first thing I thought of. I remember the first time I traveled to Brazil and was informed that I was expected to greet everyone in the room when I entered (not just a general "hey, y'all!" but actually shaking hands/hugging/kissing every single person) and then when I left, I had to do it all over again. That was so strange to me! Yet, I could see if you were coming from that sort of cultural expectation, arriving in the U.S. where (for the most part) it's moderately acceptable to pass someone you know and not even say "hi" ... well, that would appear to be incredibly rude.

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i also dont know how to act around them - i mean, if someone was outright offensive to my DH or DD, I would want nothing to do with them. I personally don't think they are, but my DH sees it that way.
I don't mean to suggest that your DH doesn't need to make some changes to his own expectations, but, well, imagine if you moved to a country where everyone greeted you with scowls on their faces and their middle fingers in the air. It could be hard to get past that.

Is this the first time he's been to the U.S.? If so, I guess I just want to encourage you that it's only been a few months. It may seem like last summer was a really long time ago, but it can take years to really adjust to a new culture to a point where you actually feel comfortable interacting with the "locals" in a meaningful way.

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so i almost feel guilty if i hang out with them, especially the one or two that he really does not like.
I wouldn't feel guilty. Well, that's easy to say, right? Assuming that they don't actually hold any deep feelings against your DH, I'd continue seeing them on your own, and, when appropriate, inviting him to join you. DH has several friends that I wouldn't necessarily want to hang out with. I have at times, but they're not my first choice of friends for a double date. I think it's okay not to have all your friends common.

I hope you're able to come to a solution that is acceptable to both of you!

Amy loving DH 5/04, raising DD 2/05 and DS 11/09; missing my mom& my babies 6/07, 12/07; and on the side
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#9 of 22 Old 03-14-2009, 04:46 AM
 
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Bringing a foreign spouse to the US is one of the most difficult things for a relationship to endure, in my opinion... when my husband first came to the US with me from Belize, there was a brief honeymoon period and then he got depressed... he didn't have his work permit yet and I had to work out of the home all day and was so worried about him, as he often wouldn't even leave the house...it made me feel so guilty! He continues to have his ups and downs, nearly 3 years after being here... for example, he went through this phase of hating getting together with my family and our extended family friends, basically whoever he deemed as "intellectuals." But what was really behind this hate was his own feelings of being uncomfortable and his own insecurities of "not being smart enough" or not being understood because of his accent... he would often withdraw and it is still off and on sometimes... it can be SO frustrating on our end, however, having to manage these ups and downs on top of our own daily life stresses and ups and downs... coupled with the fact that to this day I have to hear about how "life is soooo much easier in Belize..." and "life is better in belize because of x, y, and z".... basically, the grass is always greener and the more my husband believes in this illusion, the more withdrawn he gets because he has convinced himself that everything would magically be better if we just moved back to his country (i.e. we would already have a house because housing is so cheap). My husband does not feel secure as a breadwinner and male provider here and considering how much that is an important part of his culture and that we have a baby on the way, it is just one more stressor to add to the mix.... I think things will get better for you over time...they've gotten better for me in a way, but sometimes there are days where I feel like we've gone backwards in time and are just moving to America again... I spent 1.5 years living on and off in Belize with my husband, but I think I did not get how he has gotten here because I am generally a more social person and also knew belize was not a permanent move for me.... i think what your husband is going through is a combination of home sickness, insecurity, and his personality.... his personality can reflect how he copes with things and to what extent he has good coping skills... unfortunately my husband's only coping strategy for stress in the beginning of all of this was alcohol and tv, NOT a good combo, and it certainly wasn't "talking" about his feelings lol....

The best advice I have for you is to continue to do things for yourself, socially and to maintain your life outside of being a wife and mommy. And, most importantly, DON'T FEEL GUILTY for doing these things! For the first 2 years the guilty idea of my husband spending another night sitting his ass at home made me feel to "bad" to leave the house to go do things i enjoyed...basically, i realized he was going to sulk and be in bad moods regardless, so I focused on making myself happier and then providing support for him when I could by what other posters suggested, such as not fueling his negative thoughts... be supportive without creating a defensive environment, or else all you'll hear is how you "just don't get it..." and "whose side are you on?!" ....i have tons of info. on this topic and could go on and on...but just know there are others in your shoes and the stress of being in a multicultural relationship and particularly of re-locating is a LOT to handle on top of handling a marriage in and of itself.
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#10 of 22 Old 03-14-2009, 11:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks IlanaRose, I know so much of this is just my DH's insecurities. When we lived in Kenya he was such an outgoing/funny/life of the party kind of guy, and it's hard to see him change so much. He's still the same funny, confident guy when it's just the two of us, but he's so different around other people. I'm glad to hear that things have gotten better for you, I'm hoping his confidence will grow with time.

Notjustmamie - Kenyan culture is just like Brazilian culture - when you enter a room you're expected to shake everyone's hand and give them a personal greeting, and when you leave too.

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Yet, I could see if you were coming from that sort of cultural expectation, arriving in the U.S. where (for the most part) it's moderately acceptable to pass someone you know and not even say "hi" ... well, that would appear to be incredibly rude.
This is exactly what I wish my DH would understand - that culturally, it is moderately acceptable to pass someone you know and not say hi. DH takes it so personally. When we first moved here, I greeted everyone I passed because that was what I used to, and A LOT of people just looked at me strangely and didnt greet me back. I was annoyed that our culture can be so unfriendly, but I didnt take it personally because I understand it's not culturally normal to greet everyone all the time.

My DH can't seem to understand that - he's sure people aren't greeting him because he's black/African/a foreigner. so when i try to explain that it's just a cultural thing he just gets upset with me.

i don't know if i should even try to explain these cultural things when he gets upset - it always leads to an argument. But I hate to see him "write off" one of my friends because they are behaving in an American culturally acceptable way, even though it would be incredibly rude to do the same thing in Kenya.

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#11 of 22 Old 03-14-2009, 11:19 PM
 
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Sorry, I don`t have time to read all the posts in this thread b/c DS is sick. But I think I know how your DH feels. I`ve lived in 3 different countries for 3-5 years each and the beginning to hard to say the least. I always go through a *culture shock* when I hate everything about that particular culture. I also think b/c of my accent people dislike me. I`m also very much an introvert and it makes it even harder for me to make friends.
My only suggestion is just to be patient. Listen to him, encourage him and just accept that he needs to go through this period of adjustment.

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#12 of 22 Old 03-15-2009, 06:46 PM
 
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This is exactly what I wish my DH would understand - that culturally, it is moderately acceptable to pass someone you know and not say hi. DH takes it so personally. When we first moved here, I greeted everyone I passed because that was what I used to, and A LOT of people just looked at me strangely and didnt greet me back. I was annoyed that our culture can be so unfriendly, but I didnt take it personally because I understand it's not culturally normal to greet everyone all the time.
Have you tried travelling with him to different parts of the US, so that he can see that some parts have more greeting customs than others?
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#13 of 22 Old 03-16-2009, 01:39 AM
 
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I just want to say that I completely understand your situation! My DH is still having a hard time after being here in Canada for a year. We've been going through the long immigration process and he still doesn't have his work permit which has left him feeling pretty powerless and resentful. While we were living together in Japan, he had a good job and really enjoyed taking me out and managing all our business. I'm the type of person who gets pretty stressed out sometimes and he liked being able to take care of me. Now here, I'm taking care of him and sometimes getting very stressed out doing it. It's a huge blow to his ego, especially since we have a little baby now and he wants to "be the man" and take care of his family. We live in a small town and he has a lot of resentment against people here. He feels like they don't respect him and he criticizes them a lot as "uneducated hicks" which sounds really harsh to me, and I want to defend people, since I hate generalizations and judgements. But if I say anything that sounds like I'm defending others, he gets very upset, too. So I'm just learning now to let him vent. It's hard for him, and he needs support now. Hopefully things will get much better when we move to a multi-cultural city after he gets his work permit.

He also feels insecure about his English/accent, even though they're better than many Canadian citizens!

I would say just try to be extra affectionate and give his bruised ego a boost. He should slowly come around. But definitly don't stop doing things that make you happy! Explain to him that it's important to you, as long as he knows he still has your heart, he should want you to live your life.
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#14 of 22 Old 03-17-2009, 04:15 PM
 
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While it does sound your DH is being at least a bit unreasonable I did want to say that when I would feel rudely treated by someone and would tell my DH about it and get a "they didn't mean..." "they were just..." type of response, it would infuriate me! I'm not saying it's the exact same thing but it's hard adjusting to a new country (which you know, but it's really hard when it's for the long haul--and I think it can be harder on some people than it is on others) and it's hard when a spouse doesn't really get it (but I know you are trying, so please don't take that as a criticism at all).
That said, I don't think it's right that he only wants you guys to hang around his friends and not yours. I would just be careful about that. I can understand him not wanting to eat dinner with your co-workers every night though. That would make me crazy!! to you and your DH
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#15 of 22 Old 03-17-2009, 05:39 PM
 
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It's been 7 years since DH moved to the states (from N. Africa) and it's still hard sometimes. Yah, he's "adjusted" to the cultural differences (the greetings, the social norms, etc.) but there are still MANY times when he gets depressed and misses home. It's his home that he misses though though, just like I would miss my home if I moved to a dramatically different country (like his).

I strongly encourage you to fine a community where there is a group of Kenyans for your DH to socialize with. This has been a tremendous help for DH- where he can vent from everything about his crazy IL's to the gigantic Starbucks coffees w/ too much milk.

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#16 of 22 Old 03-18-2009, 04:09 AM
 
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It might help you to get a book on culture shock for you both to read together. Acknowledge that you may not have been able to support him in the way he needed but at the same time ask him to consider that his feelings might be as much a result of stress as they are of an objective view of what people are like. Give your husband some time. At the same time do watch out because I know that for a long time I was excusing my husband's behavior as "culture shock" and depression and now I see that mental illness or not, he still has no right to treat me as he did.

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#17 of 22 Old 03-19-2009, 01:40 AM
 
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It sounds like you've gotten some great advice already. Just wanted to offer some hugs. I'm sure the transition is hard on both of you, especially with a young baby. Perhaps if you explained the cultural differences with your co-workers/friends so that they could understand why he's feeling uncomfortable?

Some of this sounds very much like how my ex-husband (family from Ghana) felt/acted when he moved to the US to be with me. He was miserable.

I hope your dh is able to adjust to his new culture and feel more comfortable soon.
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#18 of 22 Old 05-07-2009, 07:48 PM
 
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Bringing a foreign spouse to the US is one of the most difficult things for a relationship to endure, in my opinion
LO
Funny, I was thinking of posting for some help with my DH also brought here from overseas 8 years ago! I agree with IlanaRose in that is was very difficult for us. My DH became severely depressed after the first year (mainly due to the stressful work situation, he taught middle school in SouthCentral LA! Yikes!!). Even after moving him out of LA and helping the work situation, even a year later he was in the depression. I am not one to rush for medication but in some cases, I believe like my husbands, the depressive state of mind needs to be reprogrammed. My DH did take some anti-depressants for about 6-9mo and was able to spring back to life. I bring this up because if I knew where we were headed I think I could have intervened and stopped the cycle before it got out of control.

The other part I wanted to share is I have also lived in Spain for a year and can completely relate to your husband's feelings. Here in the states I am very talkative, social and although I wouldn't consider myself the life of the party, I can definitely hold my own. Within my family I am the joker and have no problems making friends and starting conversations where ever I go. Now in Spain, I don't have a handle on the language like I do here. Everytime I attempt to make a joke I am greeted with blank stares and often asked to clarify what in the heck I am trying to say. I take a back seat there. MY PERSONALITY IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!!!! I can't stand it!! My mother in law describes me as sweet. The last thing my family would describe me as is sweet. I struggle with this every time I go to visit. I feel people see me as less intelligent and very dull and boring. Your husband could possibly feel like I do, that he isn't and can't be himself here. Since you describe him as the life of the party, I can't imagine how terrible it would feel to not be that here.

Now to where I am and how it might help you too. My husband continues to be withdrawn and antisocial. This is an ongoing issue, however when I schedule get togethers with other families and couples he has a GREAT time. He never wants to go though and I have to drag him there. I also find that he gets along fabulously well with Spanish speakers. This year I decided to start having more social events for our family because I need it too. (Somehow we are half way through the year and I haven't My husband always feels more comfortable around other foreigners too. I am not sure if you could find the international exchange department so he feels he can complain to others who find it crazy that we are obsessed with cupholders on everything (my DH thinks its stupid!) for example. On the internet there might even be a Kenyan group he can chat and relate with.

Good luck, there are a lot of people going through what you are!
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#19 of 22 Old 05-16-2009, 04:43 AM
 
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Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
Give it time. And give him encouragement.


this is a difficult time for your whole family!

how old are you guys anyway? i am just thinking that if your hubby is quiet young it may even be more difficult for him to adjust to the "american way of life". give him time and try to support him by explaining the american culture to him! (like you ty to do already anyway)
when i lived in the us for the first time i was impressed by the possibility to make friends so easily (at least i thought so :-)) everybody was my "friend" immediately, but after a while i realized that an american saying "I'll call you" doesn't necessarily mean that you'd really be called.... in germany if you say " am your friend" then you really are, but in the us i had to learn that it was meant more as a friendly phrase. understanding this helped me to take this behaviour less personal!

BTW, my ex-boyfriend and father of my daughter is originally from tanzania!! so i guess the culture would be quiet similar to the kenyan one!

he has been living in the us for more than 25 years but still is an african at heart (he grew up in tanzania). there are some issues in american culture he still doesn't get we do live separately (i live in germany with our daughter and he lives in the usa). he usually keeps his history and origin rather for himself and also had problems gaining american friends. sometimes he misses his culture a lot - i think its sometimes just tough to live in a different culture.

can you communiate well with each other? what kind of temper does your hubby have?

BTW, i know it's kind of off topic, but would you tell me a little bit more about your life in kenya?? i am so curious! i intend to visit my daughters family in tanzania in the future and am so curious how it would be like for us to be there!

Me with the wonder of my life (2/06) * : * : * * * ...surfin' together on the wave of life : ...
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#20 of 22 Old 05-21-2009, 12:04 AM
 
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Oh, mama! I had to post!

My DH is from Kenya as well, and we met and got married in Nairobi. We've been here in the States about 9 years together, I'm assuming you spent that year in Kenya as you waited for the spouse visa. I had to rejoin my university program and so we were apart for about for 15 mo after we got married. It was a tough time.

After he came, we were somewhat isolated. We didn't live on campus, but luckily we did have some Kenyan friends we met. That helped a LOT. We were also involved in our church. If you belong to a church or other religious group, that may help, too. I mean, think about Sundays in Kenya---looong church, eat, visit and then group Bible study. (For us, anyway...) And yes, it is a big culture shock. Some things my DH had a hard time getting around were driving (he never had to drive in Nai so he learned here.) Also, using a checkbook, credit cards--especially pay at the pump! He really avoided talking on the phone because people had a hard time with his accent. And then he got really sick----and we were totally isolated for a long time until he was better. That was probably the hardest time.

It's quite likely he's having a hard time getting used to everything....the US, grad school, a baby, new school, culture, language, food, money, traffic, everything. And there is the six month mark that is said to be quite hard as a transition time.

I don't know exactly what to tell you but to try to find other Kenyans (they're everywhere!) and see if there are some other groups on campus for international students. We hung out with people from Ghana, Nigeria, and other countries, too. Church may be a good place, too.

Good luck, and feel free to pm me. Maybe mine can talk to yours and show there is light at the end of the tunnel.

That being said, we're moving back. I've accepted a job teaching at a missionary school in Nai and we're leaving in July! ::::
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#21 of 22 Old 06-04-2009, 12:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I haven't been to this thread in a while (life with a 6 month old is hectic !)...thank you all so much for your encouragement and advice.

I've realized that maybe my expectations were too high and I'm trying to do better about just letting him vent and supporting him without trying to "educate" him on american culture or defend other's peoples actions. It's hard to know how to best support him, so your suggestions were really helpful.

I've also decided not to put pressure on him to attend functions - we had so many end of the year family things for my work and he didn't attend a single one - although he did have legitimate scheduling conflicts with several of them. it is frustrating because i don't like going to those things alone especially when i'm the only one without my spouse...but it's better than forcing him to go and them having him in a bad mood for the next day.

And things are improving slowly...the other night we had dinner with some of my coworkers (the guy who i mentioned in the first post who didnt greet him and his family) and it went really well. then three of my other coworkers were having a game night the same day and i left it up to my dh if he wanted to go...he said he did and we had a really good time - it was the first time i saw him loosen up and crack some jokes around my coworkers, which was really encouraging. and i was amazed that he voluntarily agreed to 2 social functions with my coworkers on the same day, and that he was actually in a good mood afterwards.

Loving wife to DH and buddamomimg1.pngmama to DD (11/08) and DS (2/12)

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#22 of 22 Old 06-04-2009, 01:17 AM
 
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Glad to hear things are getting a bit better! I'm guessing that your decision to stop "educating" him helped him to start seeing some things he may not have noticed before. At least that's how it works with my DH!

Amy loving DH 5/04, raising DD 2/05 and DS 11/09; missing my mom& my babies 6/07, 12/07; and on the side
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