Not all marriages or relationships are good. Miscommunications can occur and turn a relationship sour. Sometimes, people are just not a good match for each other. Or worse, your partner may not show their bad traits until much later into a relationship. Things can go south quickly, and you may not even realize that you’ve ended up being a part of a toxic marriage.
If you’re not sure whether a marriage is just rocky or actually toxic, let these 9 signs of a toxic marriage be a wake-up call for you.
What Defines a Toxic Marriage?
A toxic marriage can be described as a set of issues occurring continuously, usually a mix of mental, emotional, and physical problems.
While many people are aware of the more severe signs of a toxic marriage such as physical abuse, cheating, and drug or alcohol abuse, the other, more subtle signs are often overlooked.
9 Signs of a Toxic Marriage
1. Lack of Respect
Mutual respect is a very important part of any relationship. You and your partner must respect each other’s feelings, opinions, and property. Without respect, you risk hurting each other emotionally as well as physically.
Do you find your partner uncaring about your feelings? Are they not bothered if you get injured or had a bad day? Do they make major financial decisions without consulting you? All of these are major signs that they don’t respect or care about you.
2. No Extra Effort
Is your partner cold, uncaring, or mean most of the time? When you try to bring it up, do they do something sweet like bring you flowers or make dinner for you and deflect discussing the main problem?
Over time, romance in relationships can decrease. This is normal. Those that have been together a long time may not always have the time to be romantic, but a gentle nudging or a couple of date nights can bring it all back. Most couples would make some effort to make their significant other feel valued and cared for.
If your partner won’t even do simple things to make your day easier or make you happy, then it shows they don’t care about how you feel and will only do the bare minimum to keep you around.
3. Lots of Blame Swapping
How do you handle issues as a couple? Do you work together to solve the problem? Or is there a lot of arguing and shifting of blame?
If you can’t get through problems without blaming each other, then your relationship isn’t healthy. Sometimes, getting upset is normal. However, you shouldn’t be arguing about who is at fault the whole time, especially after the problem is solved.
Remember, it should not be me against you. It should be us against the problem.
4. Little to No Intimacy
Physical intimacy and sex are important in many relationships. Just gentle touching, cuddling on the couch, holding hands, and brushing against each other while getting ready are all signs of physical intimacy. It shows you are still attracted to one another and can reaffirm your romance.
There is also emotional intimacy. Talking about your day, sharing your fears and worries, talking about issues, and discussing hopes and dreams are all forms of emotional intimacy that couples should share.
While this isn’t a sure sign of a toxic relationship, it is a warning that something is wrong. Perhaps you are taking the relationship for granted or are drifting apart.
However, if your partner only wants sex on their terms or gets upset if you complain about your day or bring up problems, these are signs of a toxic marriage.
5. Control Issues
Do you feel constantly on edge and anxious when your partner is around? Does your partner demand that you show them text messages or phone logs with your friends? Do you always feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner? Do they get angry even when something insignificant happens that is outside your control?
A controlling partner can make life miserable as they think they’re always right and that you need to adapt to their rules. This dynamic can turn toxic very quickly.
6. Incessant Arguing
While arguing is normal in any relationship, constant arguing isn’t. Especially when that arguing is done over the smallest issues, to the point where arguing becomes your new normal.
When every little bickering turns into an overblown fight, it is a sign that something is wrong in the marriage.
7. You Don’t Want to Be Home
Do you find yourself picking up extra shifts or driving home slower to avoid going back home to your partner? Does an all-too-familiar feeling of dread start to seep into your stomach when you reach your driveway?
This is a major sign that your home life is no longer safe or comforting for you. It should be a huge warning sign for you to look deeper into your marriage.
8. No Compromise
Marriage is all about compromise. A little push and pull are needed from both parties to maintain a healthy relationship.
If one member isn’t willing to compromise at all and expects the other to make all the sacrifices, it can easily lead to resentment in the relationship.
9. Emotional Abuse
Physical abuse is a big part of some toxic marriages, but emotional abuse is often more common and overlooked. Things that your partner says that lower your self-esteem or worsen your mental health are signs of emotional abuse.
Some examples include:
• Refusing to let you spend time with others
• Putting you down in front of others
• Guilting you into doing things for them
• Never being happy with what you do
• Always wanting you to meet their needs, but not willing to reciprocate
• Bringing up exact dates and times of past failures when making a point
• Ignoring problems you may have, or saying they never happened
How to Deal With It
There are different ways to deal with a toxic marriage, depending on how serious the problems are and where you want to go from here.
For example, you can work to save a toxic marriage through open communication and counseling. But, saving this marriage isn’t a one-way street. Both parties have to put in the work. Seeing a couples’ counselor, talking through problems, and making a conscious effort to not repeat mistakes are all important steps.
If both parties aren’t equally willing to put in the effort, or if the marriage has become too volatile and there is a risk of physical harm, then it isn’t worth saving the marriage.
However, sometimes, one party has to lead the change for the other to see these changes and believe that there is a chance of saving the marriage.
Other times, there is no other option but to leave a relationship. In that case, it is best to try and leave peacefully and move forward with the divorce proceedings. If you have to co-parent, limit your conversations to your child. Don’t feel obligated to continue to be friends with them until you feel comfortable enough to have a friendly relationship with your ex.
Most importantly, make sure you reach out to family and friends to establish your support system and help you get through this change.