Any relationship can be characterized as toxic, whether it is a friendship, romantic relationship, business partnership, family member, or marriage. In the case of a toxic marriage, divorce may become the only option in order to assure both partner’s happiness if the toxic partner refuses to seek help. Toxic relationships are extremely draining. In these marriages the bad outweighs the good, there is a lot of insecurity, self-doubt, and unhappiness. So, what are some signs that your marriage may have become toxic?
You Fight Constantly
If you are fighting with your spouse on a frequent basis you should recognize that this is not healthy for either of you. Maybe you married young and overlooked the fact that your relationship has always been more down than up. Or maybe you’ve reached a place where you are no longer able to effectively communicate and find yourselves nitpicking and constantly at each other’s throats. Whatever the reason, if you fight more than enjoy each other your relationship may have become a toxic one.
You Blame Yourself For Everything
If you are feeling like everything is always your fault and you are the problem in your marriage, chances are that you have a toxic partner.
During my first marriage I always felt like I was walking on eggshells. I was constantly scared that I would say or do something that would upset my husband and then I would have to spend hours defending myself and hearing what a disappointment I was. I was 20 when I married him and I didn’t realize that this wasn’t how marriage was supposed to be. It took me a long time after that marriage ended to come to the conclusion that I wasn’t the problem and that everything wasn’t all my fault.
A toxic person is someone who constantly places blame on another person and is unable to accept their own issues. They cause problems over the tiniest things, as a way to put their spouse down and build themselves up. If your spouse does this to you, they are a narcissist and this is not something that therapy will change because it is a personality flaw.
You Feel Emotionally and/or Physically Unsafe
If you are being emotionally or physically abused you are in a toxic marriage. Abuse of any kind is unacceptable. Whether it is the first time they’ve hit you or the hundredth, please LEAVE! They will not change and no amount of love is worth putting yourself in danger for. Real love does not cause you emotional or physical pain. Real love does exist and it is possible to find it, but in order to find it you have to free yourself from your toxic spouse.
You Give More Than You Get
Does your marriage feel one-sided? If you are the one who is always giving and making an effort and you feel that you aren’t gaining anything in return, than you may have a toxic relationship. Marriages should have an equal give and take. There are moments where you may be supporting your partner’s needs and at other times where you may have to lean on your spouse more, but if you are always the one left with your needs being unmet, this is not a healthy balance.
There’s a Lack of Respect
Does your spouse demand respect but rarely gives it to you in return? If you are frequently feeling disrespected by your spouse, then respect yourself enough to make a change. Narcissists need to feel respect but are so wrapped up with themselves that they don’t think that in order to gain respect, they should also give respect. It’s extremely difficult to respect someone who is putting you down, insulting you, and making you feel insignificant.
You’re Emotionally Drained
Being in a toxic marriage is draining. You will feel like you no energy left to continue fighting, defending yourself, or trying to solve the problems in your relationship. You may find yourself doing things you don’t really want to be doing just to appease your partner and prevent a fight. If your marriage feels exhausting and is emotionally draining, you may want to reconsider why you are living this way.
You Feel Trapped In Your Marriage
During my first marriage I hated myself, I hated my life, but I also had been so emotionally abused that I didn’t think I could survive without that man in my life. This is the signature move of a narcissist, diminishing their partner’s self-worth to the point where they no longer know who they are and feel like their life wouldn’t be worth living alone. I was miserable but I was too scared that life would be even worse on my own that I felt trapped in the marriage. I was terrified that no one else could ever love me because I truly believed I was a terrible, unlovable person. If it weren’t for my ex filing for divorce, I probably never would have found the courage to leave on my own.
If you feel trapped in your marriage and are scared to leave, let me tell you that you are stronger than you know, you are loveable, and you are capable of building a better life without your toxic spouse! When I look back at those terrible years during my early 20s I wish I could tell my younger self to leave. I wish I could tell myself that I was a beautiful person with a good heart and that I didn’t deserve to be treated like an easily discarded servant.
Marriage should be a sanctuary where you feel loved, supported, and respected. You should be able to go home and feel happy to see your spouse after a long, stressful day at work. Your marriage should not be the source of your stress. If you are living in a toxic relationship that is not abusive, you may be able to heal things through meeting with a psychologist or going to marital counseling. This being said, if you are married to a narcissist, they will not change because they don’t think they need to. Don’t spend the rest of your life walking on eggshells if you are unhappy and feel incapable of fixing your marriage. It is possible to start over and find true happiness on your own or with someone who truly loves you for who you are.