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GabiandVi

Is this an African thing?

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I've always just tossed this up to a cultural difference. I have a friend married to a man from the same country and she says she can relate to this, but I wonder if it is just my husband and his family and my friend's husband.

My husband has a memory issue or an attention issue. I can't really put my finger on it. I've always found it a little frustrating, but I've tried to be open-minded about it. But some of the "symptoms" of this are really hard to understand.

I read about the kinds of questions in a Stokes interview and I think that if we ever have one of those he will completely bomb it. He can't remember how old our child is, for example. She is over 3, but he'll think she is over 4. She was born in 2006, but when asked he'll say, "Maybe 2007." That's a big difference at that age. Then, he has been supporting his nephew since his birth, about 6 months after the birth of our daughter, but he couldn't remember if the boy was older or younger than our child.

It sounds really suspect, I know, but to put this in a little perspective, he couldn't remember when his parents were born. He had to call all of his family members because none of them could remember either. Finally, he got approximate years. We had to put "about 19xx" for their birthdays on the forms. YET, YET, YET, he saw a car among 30 or so other cars parked on the street near my cousin's house when we were there, and he knew immediately it was my 80-year-old aunt's car, a car he hadn't seen in 5 years. I couldn't pick out her car if I saw her sitting on top of it.

I sometimes feel like I'm talking to the wind with him. I don't know how much is actually falling on his ears and finding its way to his brain. And he'll insist he has told me things that I know he has never told me. He's very intelligent. He seems to be unobservant, but then he'll mention something very subtle that he picked up on that I only understand because I have more information than he does. He has always been the top of his class in all his studies, but sometimes he seems so naive that I worry terribly about his safety.

I don't know how to explain this thing. Maybe it is all about our different ways of communicating, or the different ways we prioritize, in other words, cultural differences, or maybe it is just about him. Can anyone else relate to this?


AOS Timeline

4/14/10 - Packet received at Chicago Lockbox at 9:22 AM (Day 1)

4/24/10 - Received hardcopy NOAs (Day 10)

5/14/10 - Biometrics taken. (Day 31)

5/29/10 - Interview letter received 6/30 at 10:30 (Day 46)

6/30/10 - Interview: 10:30 (Day 77) APPROVED!!!

6/30/10 - EAD received in the mail

7/19/10 - GC in hand! (Day 96) .

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When reading your post, yes - I do believe part of this is a cultural or communication thing. It brings up a few questions to me such as how he grew up, perhaps the type of communication from his culture is not so detailed or what is important to us here and not as valued and so less likely to stick in his mind. Also I don't know if this is offensive to say, but is it possible his mom drank alcohol during pregnancy?

Also I thought when reading this that perhaps though he speaks good English there is information he's missing due to the bad telephone connection or hearing loss or simply not understanding your accent in some ways. I know my hubby didn't always understand my English but he THOUGHT he did and that led to some confusion that had to be sorted out regularly because I never thought to ask him to repeat what I said.

I can think of only one piece of advice at the interview, perhaps he can repeat the question asked before answering it. This will ensure that he knows and understands the question and also give his mind a moment to focus on the question [i.e. the ADD or whatever he has going on there]

I believe he's intelligent as you said, so I can tell you feel badly writing this post but I wouldn't feel too badly, this description qualifies for a large percentage of non-foreign male spouses - or so some of my friends joke! I also related to the post because my U.S. family are not about dates and ages and such. I actually got so many dates/ages wrong on the first petition that I was embarrassed. I am born in the U.S. but my memory is so bad that it's not funny, and I am young!

I can see how this is all frustrating, because most of all it sounds like you don't feel heard and you're scared to death that your SO is going to "flunk" the interview. I too was worried about the same thing, my hubby has speech impediment that affects how he thinks and he too wasn't always so observant; I wish I had some helpful advice for that, though I'm sure he recognizes the importance of his memory for this particular day. I guess practicing and practicing until he remembers those dates. My own family forgets my birthdate, not out of lack of kindness, some people are just not oriented to think about dates. LOL

As to him being naive, it's certainly possible - why not, not sure where your SO grew up but he may not have been exposed to a variety of things we do. I have seen it in my hubby because his social group was fairly isolated and good individuals.

All together I have seen a lot of people referring to their SO's with similar traits, so it's definitely possibly a part of the area/culture they were around.

Sorry I don't have any helpful advice, would love to hear what others say. Hang in there! He's probably listening and compartmentalizing. :blink:


~Afrilaskan Queen~

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Thanks. The thing is, when I say he's intelligent, I mean really very intelligent. Like I said, he has always been the top of his class. That was in China as well as in Africa. But he's not like one of those non-functioning genius guys, like the guy A Beautiful Mind was based on, so it's not that.

And he's a lot more socially adept than I am, and I've always been the outgoing one among my friends and family.

It's true that he probably appears to understand English better than he actually does, but he's pretty darn good at languages. He speaks Mandarin like a native. Chinese people on the phone can't tell he isn't Chinese. (He has a very thick accent when he speaks English, though)

And he'll remember tiny little details that really are insignificant. Yet, like I said, he gets our daughter's age wrong.

Fortunately, I don't think we will have much of an interview at all. We've been married over 5 years. We have a child together. I've sent in pictures of him from over the years with my father, with my neices and nephews, with my cousins, me and our child with his family, with his friends, and even a professionally taken family portrait of my VERY large family where he sticks out in it like a Black man in a . . . well, in a large Caucasian family.

I just get frustrated at times. I really do think it's a communication difference as well as a difference in priorities. But I sometimes wonder if that is typical in this sort of case, or if he is unique.


AOS Timeline

4/14/10 - Packet received at Chicago Lockbox at 9:22 AM (Day 1)

4/24/10 - Received hardcopy NOAs (Day 10)

5/14/10 - Biometrics taken. (Day 31)

5/29/10 - Interview letter received 6/30 at 10:30 (Day 46)

6/30/10 - Interview: 10:30 (Day 77) APPROVED!!!

6/30/10 - EAD received in the mail

7/19/10 - GC in hand! (Day 96) .

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add a bit of soya lecithin to his daily diet, then review all, again, in 90 days.


Sometimes my language usage seems confusing - please feel free to 'read it twice', just in case !
Ya know, you can find the answer to your question with the advanced search tool, when using a PC? Ditch the handphone, come back later on a PC, and try again.

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Whoa Nelly ! Want NVC Info? see http://www.visajourney.com/wiki/index.php/NVC_Process

Congratulations on your approval ! We All Applaud your accomplishment with Most Wonderful Kissies !

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Is age important in his culture? Sometimes cultures with different languages and mindsets don't focus on the same things we do in the West. I know some of my Middle Eastern friends that don't follow the Western calendar at home have a hard time telling me their American age or even their Islamic calendar age or that of anyone in their family and actually, they get a little angry if you remember their birthday. I wonder if that might relate to what you are experiencing, even though Benin is a completely different place. You can try drilling him on that information before any interview if you have one so that he will be able to answer it all correctly.


April 19, 2010 - NOA1 (documents received at Mexico City Embassy)

April 20, 2010 - NOA2 (received notice April 28, 2010, mailed April 27)

May 3, 2010 - Packet 3 sent (received May 27, 2010)

May 9, 2010 - I emailed them using the inquiry form asking for my case number

May 17, 2010 - received case number and link to Packet 3 by email

May 18, 2010 - sent Packet 3 to Ciudad Juarez

May 28, 2010 - called Ciudad Juarez to see if we had an appointment yet, they said wait 6-8 weeks :(

May 30, 2010 - I return to the US

June 8, 2010 - called and found out appointment date

June 16, 2010 - received Packet 4

July 6, 2010 - interview - Approved!

July 7, 2010 - pick up visa at DHL and POE to activate

July 29, 2010 - welcome letter received

August 1, 2010 - my husband comes home to me

August 13, 2010 - received Green Card

September 28, 2010 - never received Social Security Card, had to apply for it, arrived Sept. 28

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GabiandVi,

I have shared similar frustrations. I think the age/birth date thing is cultural. In Ethiopia, birthdays were not really celebrated and recognized in the same way the are in the US. But I am surprised your hubby can't remember his child's birth date or age.

Yes, my hubby too insists he has told me things that I know he hasn't. I just tell him he's mistaken, so tell me again. If he's frustrated, I just tell him I don't remember so tell me again. Thankfully, its never been about anything important.

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I sometimes feel like I'm talking to the wind with him. I don't know how much is actually falling on his ears and finding its way to his brain. Can anyone else relate to this?

I can relate to this selective memory thing. I think it is more of a man thing than an African thing though. Even in the US, women have worked around this phenomena by tying ribbons reminders, controlling calendars, etc. Last year I had to remind Pman that it was HIS birthday! He was so surprised :lol:

It's good to see you've filed something! Good luck on your journey.


NVC:

2009-09-11 - NVC received.

2009-12-17 - Case complete e-mail message, sign in failed on website and AVR... YAY!

2009-12-17 - Waiting for an appointment assignment...

2009-12-29 - Interview assigned: February 11, 2010!

2010-01-06 - Case forwarded to consulate.

Consulate:

2010-01-12 - Medical exam part 1 of 2 complete.

2010-01-26 - Medical exam part 2 of 2 complete. Ouchie!

2010-02-11 - Interview results: Administrative Processing 221(g) :-(

2010-04-27 - 2nd interview results: Approved :-)

2010-05-04 - Visa in hand!

2010-05-08 - POE

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Is age important in his culture? Sometimes cultures with different languages and mindsets don't focus on the same things we do in the West.

I was going to say this...when I was living in Kenya, people thought it was weird that I got birthday presents sent to me from America. My husband does not know the birthdays of anyone in his family. At least he knows his own birthday! Some of my Kenyan friends did not; several of my students couldn't even give me the year they were born in. It's just not a big thing there - most people don't have birthday parties, or make a big deal about birthdays. Maybe that's the issue.


K-1
09/09/09 - NOA1 :: 10/20/09 - NOA2 :: 01/11/10 - Interview :: 02/24/10 - POE :: 04/10/10 - Wedding

AOS
05/17/10 - NOA :: 06/08/10 - Transferred to CSC :: 07/02/10 - Biometrics :: 07/16/10 - EAD/AP Approved :: 10/26/10 - AOS Approved

ROC
08/16/12 - NOA :: 09/13/12 - Biometrics :: 04/12/13 - Approved :: 04/19/13 - GC received


Naturalization
08/22/13 - NOA :: 09/20/13 - Biometrics :: 01/30/14 - Interview - Approved :: 02/27/14 - Oath

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I can COMPLETELY relate to this. My husband can't remember dates and numbers well at all. I think it's just that we grow up with ID numbers, addresses, and phone numbers, social security numbers, ages, and birthdays...and a lot of people in Africa just don't grow up with that stuff, so they don't have the means to memorize it like we do. I get embarrassed, then, when someone asks him for a piece of info like that and he doesn't remember. Because he's not stupid!

And the thing about him telling you he told you something but you don't remember: this happens with us all the time! He remembers things very clearly, both things said and heard, and I don't have even a hint of a ringing bell. Maybe there it's the oral history tradition vs. non-oral: he would remember spoken things more than I would?

My husband's family also didn't celebrate birthdays or keep track of ages to well. It was more a matter of which birth position each one held (eldest, fourth born, last born, etc.). He says they were too poor to celebrate birthdays, so no one paid attention to them.

Anyhoo, good to know it's not just him!


--------------------------

Becoming a U.S. Citizen

2/15/10 Sent N-400 packet via Fedex to Lewisville TX

2/19/10 Received text message and email notification of application received, check cashed

2/27/10 Received biometrics appointment letter

3/19/10 Biometrics appointment

3/25/10 Received email notice that case will be sent for interview scheduling at local office

3/26/10 Received yellow letter asking to being more tax records/info to interview

3/27/10 Received interview letter (dated 3/24/10)

4/28/10 Interview appointment

6/5/10 Received oath letter (dated 6/1/10)

6/29/10 Oath ceremony date

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hi

sorry to reply u off topic but i am also jacksonville, fl

N-400

file 01/16

interview 03/29

oath: still waiting

do u know any news about upcoming oath.

Sent you a PM...


--------------------------

Becoming a U.S. Citizen

2/15/10 Sent N-400 packet via Fedex to Lewisville TX

2/19/10 Received text message and email notification of application received, check cashed

2/27/10 Received biometrics appointment letter

3/19/10 Biometrics appointment

3/25/10 Received email notice that case will be sent for interview scheduling at local office

3/26/10 Received yellow letter asking to being more tax records/info to interview

3/27/10 Received interview letter (dated 3/24/10)

4/28/10 Interview appointment

6/5/10 Received oath letter (dated 6/1/10)

6/29/10 Oath ceremony date

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My husband is definitely guilty. We had to quiz one another for ages before AOS---just so that he would remember his own birth date, his parents' death dates, etc. Filling out the paperwork was a nightmare. He would have to call everyone in his family to try to get the approximate dates out of them-and even those were wrong. Thank god we tracked down his parents' death certificates. My husband is also really intelligent, but the dates and age things must just not be important for him. Very frustrating sometimes, but I'm trying to get used it. Just as I'm trying to get used to the fact that I will never again arrive anywhere on time :)


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I can COMPLETELY relate to this. My husband can't remember dates and numbers well at all. I think it's just that we grow up with ID numbers, addresses, and phone numbers, social security numbers, ages, and birthdays...and a lot of people in Africa just don't grow up with that stuff, so they don't have the means to memorize it like we do. I get embarrassed, then, when someone asks him for a piece of info like that and he doesn't remember. Because he's not stupid!

And the thing about him telling you he told you something but you don't remember: this happens with us all the time! He remembers things very clearly, both things said and heard, and I don't have even a hint of a ringing bell. Maybe there it's the oral history tradition vs. non-oral: he would remember spoken things more than I would?

My husband's family also didn't celebrate birthdays or keep track of ages to well. It was more a matter of which birth position each one held (eldest, fourth born, last born, etc.). He says they were too poor to celebrate birthdays, so no one paid attention to them.

Anyhoo, good to know it's not just him!

My husband is definitely guilty. We had to quiz one another for ages before AOS---just so that he would remember his own birth date, his parents' death dates, etc. Filling out the paperwork was a nightmare. He would have to call everyone in his family to try to get the approximate dates out of them-and even those were wrong. Thank god we tracked down his parents' death certificates. My husband is also really intelligent, but the dates and age things must just not be important for him. Very frustrating sometimes, but I'm trying to get used it. Just as I'm trying to get used to the fact that I will never again arrive anywhere on time :)

Thanks, Ladies. It is such a relief to know it's not just him. It seems that time actually does bend in Africa.

With my husband it's a little more than just time, though, and probably some of it is his use of English. Like, I've asked him how many brothers and sisters he has. His dad had multiple wives, so there are many siblings. He'll answer, "Maybe 25." "Maybe?" I'll ask. "How can you not know?" He doesn't mean maybe, but it took me years to understand that. I can't exactly explain what maybe means to him, but I know now when I ask if he will be at such and such a place at such and such time, and he answers, "Maybe," he means something like, "Unless forces beyond my control stop me," NOT "I'm not ready to commit yet. Something better might come up," which is how I used to understand him, and he'd be mystified why we were fighting.


AOS Timeline

4/14/10 - Packet received at Chicago Lockbox at 9:22 AM (Day 1)

4/24/10 - Received hardcopy NOAs (Day 10)

5/14/10 - Biometrics taken. (Day 31)

5/29/10 - Interview letter received 6/30 at 10:30 (Day 46)

6/30/10 - Interview: 10:30 (Day 77) APPROVED!!!

6/30/10 - EAD received in the mail

7/19/10 - GC in hand! (Day 96) .

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Thanks, Ladies. It is such a relief to know it's not just him. It seems that time actually does bend in Africa.

With my husband it's a little more than just time, though, and probably some of it is his use of English. Like, I've asked him how many brothers and sisters he has. His dad had multiple wives, so there are many siblings. He'll answer, "Maybe 25." "Maybe?" I'll ask. "How can you not know?" He doesn't mean maybe, but it took me years to understand that. I can't exactly explain what maybe means to him, but I know now when I ask if he will be at such and such a place at such and such time, and he answers, "Maybe," he means something like, "Unless forces beyond my control stop me," NOT "I'm not ready to commit yet. Something better might come up," which is how I used to understand him, and he'd be mystified why we were fighting.

Okay, so that's what maybe means? I know with Pman, "used to" is ambiguous in meaning timewise. "Used to" doesn't necessarily denote something that habitually happened in the past. It could be ongoing or intended to happen in the future. For instance, 'I used to cook every day,' could mean this is something ongoing, or something that he would like to be ongoing... And yes, it could mean something that actually used to be ongoing :blink:

Reminds me of this thread: http://www.visajourney.com/forums/topic/208384-travel-tips-for-nigeria/


NVC:

2009-09-11 - NVC received.

2009-12-17 - Case complete e-mail message, sign in failed on website and AVR... YAY!

2009-12-17 - Waiting for an appointment assignment...

2009-12-29 - Interview assigned: February 11, 2010!

2010-01-06 - Case forwarded to consulate.

Consulate:

2010-01-12 - Medical exam part 1 of 2 complete.

2010-01-26 - Medical exam part 2 of 2 complete. Ouchie!

2010-02-11 - Interview results: Administrative Processing 221(g) :-(

2010-04-27 - 2nd interview results: Approved :-)

2010-05-04 - Visa in hand!

2010-05-08 - POE

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Okay, so that's what maybe means? I know with Pman, "used to" is ambiguous in meaning timewise. "Used to" doesn't necessarily denote something that habitually happened in the past. It could be ongoing or intended to happen in the future. For instance, 'I used to cook every day,' could mean this is something ongoing, or something that he would like to be ongoing... And yes, it could mean something that actually used to be ongoing :blink:

Reminds me of this thread: http://www.visajourney.com/forums/topic/208384-travel-tips-for-nigeria/

YES! With my husband, it can also mean that it is a common or usual occurance in the present or recent past. He will say something like, "You used to do that." Meaning, you do/did that all the time.


AOS Timeline

4/14/10 - Packet received at Chicago Lockbox at 9:22 AM (Day 1)

4/24/10 - Received hardcopy NOAs (Day 10)

5/14/10 - Biometrics taken. (Day 31)

5/29/10 - Interview letter received 6/30 at 10:30 (Day 46)

6/30/10 - Interview: 10:30 (Day 77) APPROVED!!!

6/30/10 - EAD received in the mail

7/19/10 - GC in hand! (Day 96) .

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