My husband and I have been married for 6 years. I met my husband in year 9. He is originally from Saudi Arabia (mum from Afghanistan) but moved to the UK when he was 7. (And we have stayed in the UK. Travelled back once but live here.)
We were friends throughout secondary but we didn't date because his family was against him dating a "white non-religious mutt". I met his family a few times (introduced as a friend) and I was a bit intimidated by the culture differences. He was a really great friend and guy. We started dating at 19. He was an amazing boyfriend. Incredibly sweet, caring, there was no jealousy, we went out on dates often and did a variety of things, travelled, my friends loved him, he was always doing romantic notions. His family was not supportive, because I am non-religious and he was not allowed to marry me. They also said I would be a bad wife. My family liked him but was not supportive for similar reasons, cultural differences and worries and didnít want me to marry him. I loved him, he was an amazing partner and we had an us against the world complex. He was perfect and everything I wanted, I thought I was so lucky.
We engaged after 3 years, and married 2 years later (age 24). I was pregnant when we married but we donít tell anyone that. After we married he started changing. Cultural differences that didnít bother him before started bothering him and he started bringing in a lot of rules. He began insisting on no alcohol (which was fine) but he continued to drink and I couldnít. He wanted me to eat with my right hand and has enforced that in me and our kids (Iím left handed). He wonít have anything to do with me while Iím on my period and has seen other women during that time, telling me matter of factly when he is going to see someone else. I canít stop him because I still have to fulfill his needs. He flirts with and charms other women, when I am present. Spontaneous sex disappeared because he introduced rules about thoroughly washing before, after, during (depending on what was done) sex. Washing after going to the bathroom, only cleaning with my left hand. Sex has become a twice daily requirement not something fun and bonding. I do what he wants, when he wants. He insisted that we stop using birth control to prevent children. He doesnít care about my feelings, wants or needs. If I want something I have to earn it by pleasing him. He buys me jewelry and insists that I wear it, knowing I dislike it. He controls everything that I do. What I wear, who I am friends with. He has hit me on more than one occasion because to him it is ok. He has forced sex when I say no, because Iím not suppose to ever say no. Itís just as wrong as me sleeping with another man. When something is wrong itís my fault. He makes very real threats of what he will do if I divorce him. We are 6 years into our marriage and he has done a total 180 from the man I married.
When I go to work I often don't want to leave, I feel appreciated. Every day when I step into our home I feel like I am stepping into another life. In a way I am. The cultural differences are beyond difficult, as a ďwhite mutt with no cultureĒ as my husband refers to me as. I know that there are going to be differences between us, and that is what I agreed to when I married him. To him, he isnít doing anything wrong and never has. I donít know how to find peace in my life of who I married. I feel like it will be easy for another ďwhiteĒ person to say heís horrible and to leave him, but cultural differences are real and I signed up for itÖ I canít talk to anyone I know because they will report back to my husband and he always knows where I go. My mum passed away last year and my dad has been AWOL since, so I can't even call them to just talk it out.
This is one of the key reasons I would be totally against my children marrying anyone from any of those countries. I myself am from a mixed marriage but my H is from further East, we have struggled with cultural differences, in law interference, etc. His faith however, is one which treats women equally and since he has converted to mine of his own volition, which has reduced differences there.
My daughter dated someone from the same type of background as your H and he started telling her what to wear, putting her down, etc. I told her to dump him asap, and she did. She was only 20.
However, when you throw a certain religion into the mix, one which is practiced strictly and women are regarded as second class citizens then you have this. He may have grown up in the West but if his family are there you can bet he will start to practice what they do. In fact many of those that move to Western countries are so much more strict as they try and ensure their children are not 'corrupted' by the western values. It's ok to have the benefits of the country but not its culture apparently. I have seen this happen time and time again. The kids grow up and many become more strict than the parents themselves. All of the things you mention are classic. He is allowed to marry 4 times too, so you have no rights with regard to him flirting, etc. The only good thing is that you are in the West, get away from him as soon as you can. Seek help from a woman's organisation and the steps you need to take.
What he is doing is abusive, he probably thinks it is his right. To hit your wife to discipline her is also his right according to his faith, you are basically his property. However, the country you live in has laws about this kind of thing, which supersede his tribal/religious mores.
Use the law of your country and get away from him. What will you do when he takes another 'wife.'? Leave now before things get worse. Do you have any close friends you can talk to and rely on?
You are still young, time to get out and go. If you stay too long you will become like the frog in the boiling pot of water, unaware that you are being abused.