In a healthy marriage, partners are emotionally supportive, trustworthy, loyal, and loving. They enjoy each other’s company, are committed to raising a family (if they have one), and have admiration and respect for one another.
Sounds simple, right?
But in the real world, marriages are far more complicated. Maintaining a successful relationship requires immense effort. Once the rush of endorphins is over, the illusions quickly shatter and a partner’s imperfections become obvious.
And while it’s perfectly normal to have waxing and waning intimacy, even disagreements, what’s not acceptable is a toxic marriage, which can play havoc with your health and happiness. Living with a toxic person should never be an option.
The first step in fixing an unhealthy relationship is understanding what are the signs of a toxic marriage. And if fixing it doesn’t work, then you should learn how to get out of a toxic marriage.
What is a Toxic Relationship?
Simply put, a toxic relationship is one in which partners don’t support each other. Instead, one person is always trying to undermine the other. There is a sense of competitiveness instead of support. Negative experiences far outnumber the positive ones. The disrespect, unpleasantness, and general lack of togetherness lead to constant conflicts in toxic relationships.
What are the signs of a toxic marriage? We’ll get into that in more detail in the following paragraphs, but for now, here’s one good example.
If you’re always apologizing because your partner gets upset by the little things you said or did, it’s a worrisome sign. Over time, this type of overreaction can be emotionally draining and damaging to your self-esteem. In healthy relationships, a partner doesn’t get unpredictably upset with minor things.
What Are the Signs of a Toxic Person?
Certain toxic traits are common in unhealthy marriages. Some of the signs of a toxic person include:
- Toxic individuals constantly belittle their partner, for example, by making fun of them in front of others or dismissing their ideas, thoughts, and desires as stupid or silly.
- Another common trait frequently seen in toxic marriages is anger. Any argument or disagreement leads to an extremely bad temper in one partner, making it impossible to interact in a meaningful way.
- Some toxic people exert control by inducing guilt in their partner when the partner does something they don’t like. For example, a toxic person might express disappointment (instead of support) if their partner chooses to go back to school, provoking guilt for ignoring the family.
- A common trait in unhealthy relationships is that a toxic partner overreacts to situations and constantly needs comforting for their unhappiness. Such people often deflect their partner’s valid concerns and worries and always make it about their hurt and anger.
- Narcissists seek constant drama and will make wild accusations or be excessively argumentative, rarely taking responsibility for their actions.
- Among the signs of a toxic marriage, an unusual trait is an overdependence. The toxic person’s partner is expected to make all the decisions, the advantage being that if things go wrong, they are to blame. This type of passivity is a powerful but subtle way of exerting control in a marriage.
- An unreliable partner is also toxic, always promising to do things but never coming through, leading to stress in the marriage.
- An overly jealous and possessive person can be toxic because their suspicions and controlling behavior can make life miserable for their partner.
- A selfish personality drains their partner’s energy because nothing is ever enough for them. You could cook them an elaborate dinner but they’ll find fault with your choice of wine.
If you recognize some of these signs in your partner, read on to learn how these behaviors could be affecting your physical and mental health.
How Toxic Relationships Affect Your Mental Health
Married people live longer, healthier lives, and recover from illness more quickly. But the converse is also true. Studies have shown that marital conflict affects both the physical and mental health of a couple. Stress from a toxic relationship can lead to a variety of symptoms, including sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, and weakened immunity.
Marital conflict has been linked to an increased incidence of mental health problems, such as depression and alcohol abuse. Toxic relationships can lead to a variety of mental health issues, such as:
- Low self-esteem
If you think your marriage is affecting your psychological wellbeing, then leaving a toxic relationship is not your only option. You can get professional help to change behavior patterns and save your relationship.
But first, you have to know what are the signs of a toxic marriage.
How Do You Know If Your Marriage is Toxic?
If you often find yourself wondering – is my marriage toxic? – read the following statements:
- My thoughts and opinions are not valued in my marriage. My partner frequently overpowers my attempts to express myself.
- I’m afraid to make decisions because it might make my partner angry or disappointed.
- My partner takes all the major decisions and his/her priorities and desires take precedence over mine.
- I try to set boundaries but my partner ignores them (for instance, I asked my partner not to share some pictures on social media, but he/she went ahead and did it anyway).
- Every time I try to make a positive change in my life (for example, if I start exercising), my partner highlights my shortcomings and discourages me.
- I can’t rely on my partner. There’s an uncertainty in our marriage. For example, I can’t be sure if he/she will show up for my parents’ milestone anniversary celebration.
- I’ve discovered secrets (for instance, hidden bank accounts). When I attempt to talk to my partner about them, I amgaslighted.
- I feel like I’m joined at the hip with my partner. We never spend any time apart. I feel isolated from society. If I attempt to start a new hobby or make new friends, it’s met with suspicion and jealousy from my partner.
- I feel like I have no personal space. My partner interrogates me about every moment of my day and goes through my computer, mobile phone, and dresser drawers.
- Whenever we disagree, it’s always my fault. For example, my partner had an angry outburst at the grocery store but blamed it on me because I was taking longer than expected.
- I feel insecure and unsafe in my marriage. I fear infidelity or abandonment by my partner.
- In an emergency, I can’t be sure whether my partner will pick up the phone when I call or message.
- Our relationship is highly volatile with frequent screaming arguments and chaotic, heated exchanges.
- My partner keeps score of everything, from cooking dinner to giving a neck massage, and expects me to make up for my smaller financial contribution to the household in myriad other ways.
- Intimacy is missing in our marriage, beyond sexual satisfaction. I don’t feel confident about sharing my insecurities or desires with my partner because he/she will not encourage or support me.
The statements above are all signs of a toxic marriage. If you identify with one or more of them, then you should consider getting help.
How to Fix a Toxic Relationship?
A marriage is a complex relationship, and if you feel like you are living with a toxic person, the best way to fix it is to get professional help. The psychotherapists and counselors at Rosglas Recovery have extensive experience in helping people like you heal from the psychological trauma of a toxic marriage.
Can a toxic marriage be saved? In many cases, yes.
Couples therapy with a trained psychologist can help you and your partner gain insight into the toxic behavior patterns that are harming your marriage. The therapist will take a sensitive approach and help your partner understand how their toxic behaviors affect you. For couples in toxic relationships, professional counseling is often necessary to salvage the marriage.
How to Leave a Toxic Marriage?
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, a relationship is damaged beyond repair. If you can’t fix it, it’s advisable to get out. But ending toxic relationships is not easy.
How do you get out of a toxic marriage? Here are some tips on how to leave a toxic relationship:
- Aim to become independent (this includes everything from earning a living to learning how to change a light bulb).
- If you’re thinking of ending a toxic marriage, plan for the transition (where to stay, what to take, etc.).
- Confide in friends and family members (the time for secrets is gone; tell trustworthy people about your plans and get their advice; if you feel your safety is at risk, contact the authorities).
- Seek professional help from a counselor (you can use all the help you can get).
- Once you’ve decided to leave, don’t tell your partner about it until necessary as they could emotionally blackmail you into staying.
- Be kind to yourself. A toxic marriage is an extremely difficult thing to go through. Allow yourself time to heal. Focus on hobbies and friends or take that trip you’ve always dreamed about.
Now that you know the signs of a toxic marriage, you’re better prepared to get help. You don’t have to live with a person who is abusive, controlling, demanding, self-centered, dishonest, or critical. You deserve to be happy. Let the experts at Rosglas Recovery help you heal from a toxic marriage and start your life afresh.