He Is An Abusive Husband But I'm Still Expected To Live My Life Seeking His Permission

Anonymous Anonymous in Single Women Bad Women on 29 August, 2018

I’ve been married for 6 long years and have a beautiful 4-year-old son. Yet here I am, asking my husband for a trial separation. If you are reading this, please stay. I am sure I could use a little perspective.

Ours was an arranged marriage, much like every other marriage in India. We met for about 2 hours and our parents expected an immediate response. I’d had my share of relationships and was just out of an abusive relationship.

Though I was emotionally hurt, my mom insisted that I meet a prospective match.

He said yes and I agreed too. Although I wished to meet him once more, in India you don’t have the option of meeting your future husband more than once to decide whether you want to spend your entire life with him! He was from a different state and after six months of a long-distance courtship, we got married.

During our courtship days, we took the time to understand and accept each other. There were times when we disagreed on certain things; nevertheless, it was a good argument. I felt like I had a say of my own with him. He accepted and agreed to my viewpoints even if they didn't match his.

I started believing that I’d found my ‘prince charming'.

Two months into our courtship and I told him about my past relationships including the one with my best friend whom I was still in contact with. He asked me if I wanted to keep in touch with any of my ex-boyfriends and I clearly refused. He made me promise him that I wouldn’t keep in touch with any other them. Though I found his behaviour weird, I respected his wishes.


Then he asked me to edit the comments I made on my friends’ posts on Facebook. I found it irritating but ignored it once again! Soon after we got married, I was made to compromise on various things. I’ve always been an independent person, a freedom seeker and a giver from the start.

I was asked to seek permission to work, to talk to my friends and for the clothes I wore.

My husband wanted access to my phone along with all my passwords. When I curiously asked him the reason, he said, “A husband and wife should share everything. If you don't have any secrets then you shouldn't worry.” I obviously didn't, and being in a new relationship and a new place, I believed him. Gradually, his demands started increasing.

If I called anyone, he'd be present in the room when I was talking to them.

One day, he randomly asked me who had given me the Tommy Hilfiger watch that I wore. I got irritated and snapped at him, saying that it was a gift from my elder sister. A minute later, I went to him and apologized, confessing that it was a gift from my ex. He shouted at me and asked me to throw it away at that very moment.


The rage in his voice scared me. My mother-in-law also heard him shouting and came rushing into the room.

My husband poured out my whole story including my affairs to my mother-in-law. I was devastated and felt that he had broken my trust.

Months went by and our fights just got worse. My in-laws were equally demanding and I got no support from them. I was desperate to move out of their house and get my freedom back.

A year after our marriage, we decided to move to Canada. I was extremely excited about the move.

We shifted to this beautiful country and I thought that I’d finally find my happiness with him in this far away land.

Sadly, he continued being abusive and controlling. He wanted me to share all my thoughts with him all the time. He would fight with me even if he found me chatting with a female friend. I requested him to be more of an equal partner at home but he was never taught any kitchen work or household chores. Eventually, I stopped expecting anything from him.

His lack of help didn't affect me as much as his controlling and abusive nature, which frightened and hurt me deeply.

By then, he had already hit me thrice including the time when I was three months pregnant with our son. During my pregnancy, I’d ask him to make love to me (call it the hormones) or plan an outing together but he never did anything. I don’t know if it was the fear of hurting the baby or his lack of interest in spending time with me.

I craved for his affection and all I got were fights and his rage.

After the birth of our son, I needed him; I expected more from him. I was suffering from PTSD, which I didn't know I had.

I would cry myself to sleep worrying about our future while he didn’t even bother to check on me.

He moved from a full time to a part-time job under the pretext of helping me raise the baby. Other than monitoring the baby’s night sleep, he did not look after him while I had to cook, clean and tend to the baby. I realized that he never accepted me for who I was.

He continued to check, control and dictate my life from what I wore to whom I interacted with.

When our son was 18-months-old, we moved provinces. It was my idea because moving to another province made more sense than living in a competitive city. I landed a great job within three days of moving. He decided to complete his education. However, his behaviour didn’t change.

Every weekend, he’d promise to help me more around the house. But I would end up all the work while he was busy playing games or watching TV or pretending to study.

I had to do everything and yet I was told that I shouldn’t complain because those were my duties as a wife.

Meanwhile, he continued to monitor my life - where I spent, why I spent, who did I have coffee with or why did I chat with someone and so on. After about a year of working, I thought of having my own bank account, so I could learn to manage money. This didn't go down well with him.

He abused me, called me names and said, “You can get a separate account only over my dead body!” I didn’t understand why he was so upset about such a minor issue.

Honestly, I didn't need his permission to open an account of my own; I just wanted him to support my decision.

We decided to pay a visit to our families as we had not met them in 5 years and no one from our families had met our son. Although he agreed that both of us would enjoy and have a good time with our respective families, he would call me every hour to know where I was going, why I was going, how much did I spend; the same old rubbish.

It was only when I met my elder sisters in person that I told them that he had abused me physically.

They were outraged but didn't say a word to him. Then I went to visit my grandmother and he was in his hometown with our son. He tried reaching me but I was unwell and my phone was on silent mode. He called me over 20 times. He ended up calling my friend, my brother and my uncle who were all in different cities.

As soon as we got connected, he demanded to know where and why I’d spent a particular amount. He reacted like it was a matter of life and death. I was extremely outraged by his behaviour, yet I gave him the explanation he needed. As soon as it was cleared, he started sweet-talking, as if nothing had happened.

I often wondered if he had a split personality or it was me who imagined us fighting a few seconds ago.

He asked me about my job in Canada and I said that I’d taken care of it. He got angry that I should’ve told him instead of him asking me. His mother must have sensed something and she took the phone from him. I was explaining the matter to her when he suddenly barked into the phone, “Don't talk to my mother in this manner or I will break your jaw.” I was speechless.

His mother also tried telling him that I wasn't rude to her at all. As soon as he said those words, it was like a switch went off in me. I forgot my love and lost all my respect for him.

It was as if I was awakened from my hibernation.

I told our families about his abuse including the physical violence. They were extremely surprised to know this side of our relationship. According to my in-laws, it was obviously my mistake and that I, being the wife, should be humble, respecting, tolerating and let it go.

The preaching continued for the next 6 hours with my father-in-law explaining to me how a woman has strong powers and I am not a complete woman if I can't handle my husband.

He even said that I was money minded and was not fit to be a mother. He believed that I had become ‘too modern’ by living in Canada and so, I needed to be grounded in Indian values.

They agreed that it was my duty to seek their son’s permission if I wanted to work or meet a friend or even drive a car.

I was at my wits’ end but I wanted to safely travel back with my son (who was with my husband at that moment), so I simply accepted everything and came back.

Our son is turning 4 years old now and a lot has changed in the past few months. I stopped sharing my passwords or my phone with my husband. I have asked for a separation and am slowly building my independence back.

My husband used shame, guilt, name-calling, physical threats and tears to change my mind.

I am unable to go back to the time when I loved him and more importantly respected him. I don't feel safe with him anymore. We've fought on every single weekend (no exaggeration) after we came back to Canada in September 2017. My in-laws and my mother visited us to tell me that I should give him another millionth chance and accept him. It hurts to see that his parents are supporting him when he is wrong.

My mother expects me to accept him and move on even after witnessing his abusive nature during her stay with me.

She fears how my son and I will manage alone in this foreign land. But my relationship with my husband is beyond repair. I considered him my friend and my ally and he used and abused my secrets and me. There could be women who can accept this kind of behaviour but this marriage isn’t working for me. I don't have the capacity anymore.

Time and again, he claims that he has changed and he trusts me now. And still, I find him questioning me when I chat a little longer on my phone or get late while returning from work or if I simply dress up a little extra.

I see his actions improving around the house, however his conservative thinking is still the same where he believes that I am below him and I need to seek his permission to live my life.

How does one live with such a person? What would you do, if you were in my place?

Editor's Note:

That gut feeling, at the very beginning of a budding relationship, should never be ignored. This relationship was doomed from the very beginning. I read somewhere that it is important to evaluate a partner, not by noticing their behaviour when they are at their best but by noticing their behaviour when someone stands up to them. Most of the times women are not empowered enough to understand red flags appearing in a relationship. Abuse is so normalised our society that even after suffering disastrous consequences, women deny the existence of abuse. The place where women fail miserably is in educating themselves. They do not invest time and energy on their wellness and treat themselves as second class citizens. Not caring for yourself, keeping quiet about the abuse, isolating oneself, giving up everything for a spouse and chasing themselves to bend backwards, are not signs of martyrdom but are signs of weakness.

No relationship should come with conditions. If it does, it is important to wear your running shoes and escape. Take your time to open up to a spouse, especially if you are in an arranged marriage and you don't know your would-be spouse that well. Prevent a bad marriage by doing what I call the "exercise of negotiables and non-negotiables". Make a list of value systems and behaviours that matter to you. Compare notes with a prospective partner. Check where you both stand on those parameters. The objective of a woman's life isn't only marriage. Don't rush! The world may not end tomorrow, and these things matter more than you think.