Dear Dr. Romance: I was reduced to a house maid

Dear Dr. Romance:

I fell in love and married a man from another city. We have been married for three years. I lived
with his family, which included his parents and his three younger sisters, plus children. 

In my eastern culture, we mostly live with our inlaws. My mother in law's behavior was never nice towards me has gotten worse. She and her daughters constantly complain, find fault and lie to my husband about me. I have been patient until now, when his mother started cursing me. His family says  I should not mind, because she curses every one.

I am a dentist and before marriage was practicing for three years. I am a career oriented person, and  my parents were also working professionals.  My husband before marriage had promised me that I would be allowed to work, but after marriage he and his family became extremely jealous and suspicious of me. They would not let me go out alone (my family was in a different city), and would check my phone, open my mail, follow me and accuse me of meeting people. 

I made several attempts to start my career, but I was simply not allowed to carry out my studies or to work. I was reduced to a house maid to wash dishes, cook and clean. I belong to a family where we are helpful and cooperative with house duties, but his family all ganged up and insulted the way I did house work and my husband yelled and screamed.

I had a very difficult pregnancy, and no one in my husband's family would even give me a glass of water when I was vomiting all day long, and my health suffered. My husband insisted that I or my side of family should handle all the bills pertaining to the baby, which we did in the end. After the baby was born, my mother in law tried separate me from my baby, said I should not feed him my milk, and told relatives the baby didn't like to be with me. They criticized my parenting.

My husband does not work, and constantly asks for money,but does not tell me what it's for.  He says it is none of my business. I have been working as a frelance writer to manage mine and baby's expenses.

After I found out through his mobile phone messages that he was having relationships with other
women, I left the house and came to my parents. He threatened me, and I decided to file for divorce.
He threatened to take my baby away.  Even though I think the decision to get out of this emotionally abusvie relationship, I am still confused.

Am I thinking like a victim of abuse? Or should I try to make this marriage work?  My husband saysthat I should come back and live with the same family, but I am absolutely horrified to go back to that place. I am also very scared that I will lose my son should I go back. Am I justified to think so?

I am very depressed and I think I love my husband or the idea of him. I think I need some counselling and therapy to get out of this abuse cycle, but in our country there are not many people who do this. Also, I canot go to any psychiatrist at the moment as they might use it against me in the courts.

Dear Reader:

I'm very glad you wrote, and very sorry to hear of your predicament. Yes, here we would say that you have "Battered Wife Syndrome" and are thinking like an abused person.  Your statement "My husband before marriage had promised me that I would be allowed to work." is a clue that you began the marriage by giving up your power as a career woman. If you have to have permission to work, you are already compromised. I know you are very smart, or you would not have your degree and your career history.

Although I normally strongly support intact marriages and families, in this case I think it's good that you left. Your husband's family apparently saw you only as a source of money and as a servant. You have to walk the line between being an independent person and being acceptable in your culture. However, if you were working as a dentist, you do have some freedoms as a single woman. I don't think there is much to love in your husband, although I'm sure he was charming when he was trying to lure you in. But he doesn't value you or your child except as possessions, so it's probably wise to stay away from him. No, I don't think this marriage is good for you or your son. Stay with your own family, get back to your career, and proceed with the divorce. Document all the abuse that you suffered, with dates and names of those who abused you, for the court. 

I understand why you can't get counseling, but you do need support. Do you know a wise and kind elder person who could help guide you? If so, ask that person for guidance and support.  

Stop longing for marriage -- instead, focus on creating a good, solid foundation for your son. When you are stronger, and free again, you can look for another partner, who is a more balanced, kind and caring person who will be good to you and your son. You want to be partners with someone, not a servant. "The Courage to Hope"  "Coping with Critics" "What is a Dysfunctional Relationship"  and "Setting Boundaries and Saying No" will help you reorganize your life and stand up to your in-laws. It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction will help you redefine family and mental health.  Take good care of yourself and your son, and your future will be bright.

For low-cost counseling, find me at LoveForever.com 

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