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I am tired of explaining!

Goldiegirl

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I have found out that I hate being a teacher. I dislike having to explain English every day. I love my (Japanese) husband, but at times I just can't stand having to help him with the day to day aspects of living in the USA. I get annoyed sometimes that I always have to deal with all of our business here. I have to make the calls, deal with insurance, figure out why the cell phone bill is wrong...all those things. Then too, there is the explaining. Someone will say something, either as a joke or to make a point, and he will look at me to explain what the other person means when that person is right there! For instance he was asked if he had a "hollow leg"...(because he can eat a lot!) and rather than ask the person who said that, he asks me. I think sometimes he needs to get the feedback from the source, not always through me. He is fluent in English, so it's not as if he can't talk. It's like when he gets on the telephone he becomes paralyzed and can't speak, but I feel that by me always taking over the phone calls he will never learn! And the same goes for interpreting for him. When we are at a restaurant he can read a menu and order, but I have to order for him because he's worried that he won't be understood. I tell him that the waiter will ask you a question if he doesn't understand. Then I think that I make it easy for him to rely on me and sometimes I quickly interpret when a person is speaking to him, because I just want the conversation to move along. Maybe I created this problem by being to quick to help. I just want to know if I am being too hard on him, or selfish? Is this a typical problem that mixed nationality/language relationships have? And how do I help him to be more self reliant with his English? (without coming across mean or hurting his feelings!?)
 

KirinMan

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You know what you sound just like my wife when we first came back here to Japan a very long time ago. Now I know how she felt listening to you here, geez you brought back some seriously long lost or should I say intentionally forgotten memories.😌

I went through what your husband did, however at the time I couldn't speak any Japanese and relied on her for nearly everything. It was extremely frustrating at times for the both of us.

What got us over the hump was firstly my learning to accept things as they are here AND more importantly learning to talk to others for myself.

I could be wrong here but your husband sounds like he is using you as a crutch, probably because at first you felt a need to support and help him out, but now it has become a habit that sounds like it needs to break.

Talking between yourselves and letting him know, without stepping on his toes that he needs to learn to communicate with others. Even if it means going through some akward times together. I would also suggest letting him know in your "womanly" way, that just because you aren't there to assist him all the time, that it isn't because you are angry with him but want him to be able to take care of things for himself.

Don't answer everything for him. At first it is difficult, but as he realizes that he has been causing you this frustration he should start to take more on for himself.

I'm sure you understand the cultural differences between you, and I am sure you know the Japanese people and their difficulties in speaking English. That is probably part of the problem as well. He may not feel comfortable enough yet in using his English abilities around others that do not know him well, or can not do so face to face as on the telephone. I bet he is frustrated as well, but doesn't show it as much.

(Well here is a start.....as I recall more, I'll write more, that is if you are interested??)

btw I love the lake that is near your "location", my sister has a home on it.:)
 

Mikawa Ossan

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I think it is quite common a problem. Don't be too harsh on him.

I remember when I was still studying Japanese and engaged, my fiancee had the same complaint. Her solution was to make me have to go to her uncle's place all on my own. It was the first time I "flew solo" in Japan, so to speak, and I was barely equipped to navigate the trains in Osaka at the time.

I'll spare you the details, but I made it eventually. This led to me being more independent in Japan, but the next problem was that my fiancee didn't like my newfound independence.

Sometimes you just can't win.

I would suggest that if you want him to be more independent, you should have him do more things on his own (without you around). If he's anything like my father and myself, he feels strange making mistakes in front of you, because he feels embarrassed making mistakes in front of the person he wants to impress the most in the world. If you're not there, I'm sure he'll try harder. Eventually, he'll be able to stand on his own feet, but he'll probably always want to amaeru to you to some degree when you're around.
 

Goldiegirl

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Thanks a lot...really what you (Obeika) wrote is true. I think I became a crutch because I wanted to be helpful. Not that I don't want to help him when he truly needs help; I would never deny him, but yeah he does have to learn to let go of me and fly on his own. Please share your experiences, it's always appreciated, especially as you seem to have been through all the initial trials and troubles and have gotten through them!

Do you mean Lac La Belle? Yes it's gorgeous and I am green with envy!
 

Goldiegirl

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what is amaeru? I don't want to be harsh or mean or come across like that. I know how scary it can be to have to stand on your own two feet. I am an illiterate mute in Japan and yet I find a way to get out and about. I guess the difference is that I don't have a choice as he is at work for 12-14 hours a day when we are in Tokyo, so I don't have any options but to go out by myself. I know that should we make a more permanent move to Japan I may feel a little more "softly" about this!
 

Mikawa Ossan

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I have never found an English translation of amaeru that I've liked. The English translations always sound really bad, but it's not always bad. In fact, in Japanese society, people who are close to each other often expect their partners to amaeru to them.

It's kind of being needy even when you don't need to be. Letting someone else do something for you even though you could do it yourself.

It's also needing the attention of your partner. Needing to "feel" loved. My take on this is that by showing that you want to "feel" loved by your partner, you show indirectly how much you care about them. After all, if you don't care about someone, why would you need their love?
 

KirinMan

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Thanks a lot...really what you (Obeika) wrote is true. I think I became a crutch because I wanted to be helpful. Not that I don't want to help him when he truly needs help; I would never deny him, but yeah he does have to learn to let go of me and fly on his own. Please share your experiences, it's always appreciated, especially as you seem to have been through all the initial trials and troubles and have gotten through them!
Do you mean Lac La Belle? Yes it's gorgeous and I am green with envy!

Yes Lac La Belle, I haven't been there yet as she just purchased the property last year and I haven't been home for mmm 3 years now. But I am looking forward to it. I am originally from that little town like city to the east of you/:)

Then I think that I make it easy for him to rely on me and sometimes I quickly interpret when a person is speaking to him, because I just want the conversation to move along.

I can not count how many times I was on the receiving end of this. I would wait and wait for what seemed like forever for a response, and then after 5 to 10 minutes of listening to a conversation in Japanese, I woul get a one or two word response. There were times I was flabbergasted that after all that discussion all I'd get was .......grrr.

Talk to him, he must know or at least feel the tension when you are together and situations like this occur. At least you guys can discuss it between yourselves, I went through a period of time that I actually felt as if our marriage was over because my wife wouldn't help me out. But in the long run and looking back at it it was probably the best thing she ever did for me.

I give her all the credit in the world for getting me to adapt to life and living here. It took a while but we are still together and as time has gone on have become better friends and lovers for it.

There are still times though that things get frustrating, but knowing you can rely on each other makes it easier.

Plus having a place like this to "rant" takes off pressure as well, at least knowing that others have had or are having the same kinds of experiences makes it a bit easier on oneself.

However you are the one that has to make the choices on what you want to do. Good Luck...off to pick up my kids from school.:)
 

Goldiegirl

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Interesting. I think then that most of us have been amaeru at one time or another. I am tired though. And I feel that I have to take care of my mother (she's a senior citizen and has rapidly increasing health problems) and my husband, and sometimes it's just plain frustrating. I am more than ready to help with English etc, if it's an urgent situation, but for the little things I have grown weary and I find myself responding a little less nice. That makes me feel guilty and then that makes me feel mad because I don't feel that I should feel guilty....it's a never ending circle. I just have to find a way out of this circle without hurting his feelings. Oh, I have gotten him to go to the BP and get me some diet pepsi when I run out! He knows I get cranky without it! He really is a loving and caring husband and he treats me like a princess so that makes it hard for me to stop letting him depend on me.
 

Mikawa Ossan

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What about if you got him to join this forum? We could talk to him directly! Some of us even know Japanese, so we could talk to him 'directly' so to speak. (Of course the down side to that is that he could see everything that you have to say about him...although that could work both ways.)
 

Goldiegirl

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Hmmmm....it's a thought! But I don't think I want to "share" my little corner of the internet. What about the times (like now) when I need advice or the times I want to complain about Japan or *gasp* him?! Where then would I go? Nope, I'll just take the advice and take my chances. Thanks!
 

Mikawa Ossan

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Hmmmm....it's a thought! But I don't think I want to "share" my little corner of the internet. What about the times (like now) when I need advice or the times I want to complain about Japan or *gasp* him?! Where then would I go? Nope, I'll just take the advice and take my chances. Thanks!
No problem! I understand completely! :)

But as Obeika said earlier, communication is definately the key! There is a Japanese expression "Ai no Muchi" which literally means "the whip of love". It means that sometimes you do things that hurt the people you love for their own future benefit. I think it's what you have to do in your husband's case. Good luck!
 

DoctorP

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He is fluent in English, so it's not as if he can't talk.
I think that you mistake "fluent" with well educated. I am well educated in Japanese but no where near being fluent. Even though he may be able to read/write/speak English, there are still going to be issues...mainly slang. The situation you used as an example is not something that I would expect a Japanese native speaker to understand.

He looks to you because he understands your tonal sounds and fluctuations in your voice better than others.

With that said, I do understand your frustrations. I too have to deal with these things with my wife from time to time. My wife can hear something from someone, look at me and have me repeat it and she understands perfectly. She is used to hearing my voice and the way that I speak. It will take some time for him to get over it.
 

KirinMan

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I too have to deal with these things with my wife from time to time.

Do you have to deal with them more here from your side or when you are in the US and the roles reverse?

Up until this post I have been relating how my experiences from living here have been. When my wife was in the states though these issues really didn't pop up as often. We lived there for a number of years and I guess I would have to say that he reliance on me was less there than mine was to her here.
 

Anohito

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I think that you mistake "fluent" with well educated. I am well educated in Japanese but no where near being fluent. Even though he may be able to read/write/speak English, there are still going to be issues...mainly slang. The situation you used as an example is not something that I would expect a Japanese native speaker to understand.

The issue of slang and colloquialisms is important! From my own experience overseas and other observations, I strongly suspect that it usually takes years of immersion in a culture before someone can easily understand the prevailing slang and colloquial speech. Then there is also the phenomenon of being able to understand what somebody says reasonably well (in a language that is not your native language), but not being able to formulate a proper response or not being comfortable with doing so. I'm sure that has been mentioned from time to time in Japan Forum.

He looks to you because he understands your tonal sounds and fluctuations in your voice better than others.

It seems quite reasonable that somebody would understand the person that he/she hears most often better than he/she would understand others. That being said (and just as a general observation), it is possible that Goldiegirl's husband needs more encouragement to try to engage in conversations without her constant assistance. After all, there will be many times when he will not have Goldiegirl there to help him.
 

Goldiegirl

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Slang is hard, and I am happy to translate the meaning for him, but I would prefer that sometimes he questions the original user of the slang. I've spoken English my entire life, but I have my own twist on what certain slang means. I think he should get other perspectives, not just mine...flattering as that could be! I wouldn't expect him to question a stranger or a person he isn't familiar with, that would be outside of his personality, but family and friends he should.

CC1, you are so right about his understanding not just my words, but the sound of how I speak them. I am told by a lot of people that I speak very clearly, that's from native speakers as well as by my Japanese family and friends. I know that my husband has a hard time with our nieces and nephews, he says they all sound like they are talking with marbles in their mouths!

Oh, as I was thinking of this issue last night, I realized that I have stopped using slang when talking with my husband and that I have changed the way I speak when we are together. I am going to start talking "normal" again.

Thanks for all the responses....it's always reassuring to know that your not the first to go through something and that there are other people who have been there and can help!
 

Anohito

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Slang is hard, and I am happy to translate the meaning for him, but I would prefer that sometimes he questions the original user of the slang. [snip]

This is basically off-topic, but on the subject of slang, I think it can be possible to overload a non-native speaker with slang. In high school there was a student who was from one of the Spanish-speaking countries in this hemisphere. Well, the "popular" students at school got the bright idea that they should undertake a sort of "intensive training" course in slang with him. The poor guy probably wound up being quite confused.
 

KirinMan

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CC1, you are so right about his understanding not just my words, but the sound of how I speak them. I am told by a lot of people that I speak very clearly, that's from native speakers as well as by my Japanese family and friends. I know that my husband has a hard time with our nieces and nephews, he says they all sound like they are talking with marbles in their mouths!

That isn't just you, I have also ben told that as well as a number of friends of mine that have been living here in Japan for a few years. Partially I think that is due to the fact that we have taken the time or made a subconscious decision to speak clearly so people here can understand us. Talking slower, using no slang, staying away from idioms, things like that, to help us with our daily life here.

I think we forget the circumstances and adapt to the people around us.

I would suggest not changing your speaking patterns with your husband but have him work more on understanding other people. Your stability is important as well. If you suddenly start talking in slang or like you have "marbles in your mouth", it could be very unsettling to him, even if he knows it's coming.

When he doesn't understand have him ask what it means or find out for himself, by using a decent slang or colloquial English dictionary there are quite a few out there, Longman's publishes one that is pretty good.

He has gotten comfortable with you, let him keep that comfort level as you gently push towards communicating more with others. You can always tell the people that you are conversing with that "we" are working on improving/ increasing or some other appropriate phrase "My husbands" English so when he doesn't quite understand something he may ask you to explain what you meant....I am pretty sure you get what I am saying here.

Oh and one other suggestion, conveniently "go to the bathroom" 😌 when those situations occur or be somewhere else, take the attention away from you and put it back on him. He'll catch on I am sure.🙂
 

maushan3

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Talking slower, using no slang, staying away from idioms, things like that, to help us with our daily life here.

Oh and one other suggestion, conveniently "go to the bathroom" 😌 when those situations occur or be somewhere else, take the attention away from you and put it back on him. He'll catch on I am sure.🙂

I think at first this needs to be done, but after a while, you'll help him a lot if you start using colloquial terms, double-side jokes, slang and all of that, because you'll then introduce him to the other side of the culture that's only available to the locals.

Great advice, use it and he'll be forced to understand everything around him and he'll then understand everything.

Mauricio
 

justin

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I've had a few Japanese friends who have talked to people through me and sometimes it was like having teeth pulled (since I only know a little Japanese). At times I just told my friend to ask the person to talk slower, repeat what they said, or what not. Unless it was something like dealing with a salesperson or the like, then I would do what I could to help my friend.

My best friend, Ai, didn't really need me to explain anything just to be there. She just needed me there for support and once in awhile to help her understand something.

As for slang, that was a lot harder. I have a redneck side and say words like 'howdy' and 'ya'll.' First time I said, 'Howdy, ya'll' my Japanese friends looked at me like I grew a third arm.
 

Goldiegirl

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I figured out today that our circle of family and friends also rely on me to be the interpreter of their stories, jokes or whatever they are talking about to my husband. That is bothersome as well to me. If they are going to talk above what my husband knows than they should be the ones to tell him what they mean. They should explain. I noticed last night that my brother looks at me when he has finished a sentence so I can rearrange it for my husband to understand more easily. Wow, I wasn't aware of how much I really do explain and re-word English for him. I also can't believe that I basically "taught" everyone to depend on me for translating. Although it's not really translating as my husband understands almost anything English spoken to him (maybe not medical terms etc...), but he doesn't get the meaning or the "flavor" behind the words. I know the Japanese have a sense of humor, but it sure isn't what I am used to...he absolutely doesn't get sarcasm or saying something like "just great" in a tone that means "damn that sucks". I then explain what is meant and all the fun is drained from the joke/pun, or as it happens I get less upset over what really ticked me off and then am mad at having to explain. This is going to sound mean and it probably is, but it's honest...I just wish that sometimes he would "get it" faster. He's only been in the USA for 1 year so I know that I am expecting too much, but it is my biggest wish right now! Thanks for letting me ramble here, I have been so frustrated these last few days and needed to get this issue out. It feeels better now! Thanks!
 

Elizabeth

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I figured out today that our circle of family and friends also rely on me to be the interpreter of their stories, jokes or whatever they are talking about to my husband. That is bothersome as well to me. If they are going to talk above what my husband knows than they should be the ones to tell him what they mean. They should explain. I noticed last night that my brother looks at me when he has finished a sentence so I can rearrange it for my husband to understand more easily. Wow, I wasn't aware of how much I really do explain and re-word English for him. I also can't believe that I basically "taught" everyone to depend on me for translating.
Well, they should explain of course or simply not use confusing and nonstandard language with a first year immigrant. More than anything, it shows a very definate lack of respect to consistently and knowingly communicate above your partner's level. Even if he was a native English speaker from a foreign country it would be rude. If they knew how much it bothered you and continued on in the same pattern, then it becomes equally uncivil towards you as the unappointed and over abused go-between.

The problem is, anyone that lets it go without complain until now I'm sure they honestly don't realize how much you mind. If these people around you haven't had a lot of exposure to foreigners, they also probably think this is the best way for a student of the language to pick it up. It isn't of course. Any learner going to 'get it' much faster when they are forced to put in the sweat and labor of working for their bread than when they are being coddled and hand fed every step of the way.

Communicate clearly your expectation and need to be a normal friend, wife, family member to everyone so that they are all reading from the same script and see if things don't drastically improve. If there isn't an immediate change, you need to severly curtail the level of direct input and show your husband how to find what he needs on his own. :)
 
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