No one ever said marriage was easy. But, if you notice the signs of a toxic marriage, it may be time to end it and move on.
Experiencing the signs of a toxic marriage isn’t just a bad part of life. A toxic marriage can lead to anxiety, depression, lack of motivation, and even very unhealthy habits like excessive drinking or drug use.
It is not something to scoff at. We are often told to make a marriage work no matter what. We are guilted into saving something that is beyond hope. And we are told we are failures if we end a relationship. We didn’t try hard enough.
As sad and hard as divorce can be, if you see signs of a toxic marriage, it may be the best thing for you to end it.
What is a toxic marriage?
The word toxic means poisonous. So, having a toxic marriage isn’t just bad, it is dangerous. A toxic marriage isn’t just an unhealthy or bad marriage. A toxic marriage poorly affects every aspect of your life.
Think about it like this. If your town’s air supply is toxic, it doesn’t just affect the air. It affects the water supply. Your health. Your crops. There is nothing safe from that poison. A toxic marriage is no different. It will eat away at your confidence, your mental health, your emotional well-being, and even your physical health.
A healthy and prosperous marriage will add to your life in limitless ways. It will offer you support, confidence, security, and happiness. A toxic marriage does the exact opposite. You aren’t just missing the good stuff but enduring all the bad.
What are the signs of a toxic marriage?
A toxic marriage is not something you want to live with. You and even your partner deserve better. One of the signs of a toxic marriage is that it will bring out the worst of both of you.
But a toxic marriage does not form overnight. A toxic marriage could have started with happiness and trust. Over time, things happen that inject that poison into your marriage, and it just takes off.
Often, by the time there are signs of a toxic marriage, it has been that way for quite a while. So, what are those signs of a toxic marriage?
#1 Unreasonable anger. Every couple fights and argues. It is normal to disagree. But when those minor disagreements become screaming matches, they can easily drain you. Rage in a relationship can easily get out of control.
If you are fighting about someone forgetting to take the garbage out and it becomes a screaming match and someone’s fist goes through a wall or a glass is broken, things are way out of hand. Enduring this sort of behavior repeatedly takes a toll on your well-being.
#2 Control. What makes healthy relationships work is a balance of togetherness and independence. You should support each other, but not control each other. When one of you makes decisions for each other about anything, from which color to paint the living room to where you should live, it is a problem.
A relationship should have two people contributing to decisions. When one person takes control of what the other does it destroys confidence, it is a sign that sets up the road for a toxic marriage.
#3 Jealousy. Jealousy is always an ugly thing. Jealousy in a relationship can stem from past infidelities, but is often also about control. In fact, jealousy can stem from fear of cheating, to a desire for your partner’s level of social or financial independence.
If you are constantly jealous of your partner’s job, friends, or are even suspicious of them cheating, it’s a sign of a toxic marriage that will slowly eat you up from within.
#4 Infidelity. Anything from a long-term affair to one night of weakness can destroy an otherwise healthy relationship. When that trust is broken, all the good parts of your relationship can crumble and turn into rage, depression, fear, and uncertainty.
All of that can lead you to feel not just alone and hurt in your marriage but in everyday life.
#5 Guilt. A toxic relationship causes intense feelings that carry over into all aspects of your life, and guilt is one feeling that is hard to shake. If you do something for yourself or don’t live up to your partner’s expectations for you, you shouldn’t feel guilty.
A successful marriage is full of compromise and acceptance. But if your husband or wife makes you feel guilty for being imperfect that can cause insomnia, overeating, weight loss, and more, that’s one of those glaring signs of a toxic marriage.
#6 Criticism and judgment. Helping each other out where you can is a great way to come together in a marriage. But, constructive criticism and put-downs or judgment are not the same.
Your spouse can offer you job advice or aid with family issues, but continuous criticism of your choices eats away at your self-esteem. Whether they shield their disdain with humor or not, someone constantly talking down to you can cause a severe lack of confidence in relationships and beyond.
#7 Avoidance. Avoidance in a marriage is a terrible sign of toxicity. You shouldn’t be waiting in your car in the driveway for your spouse to go to bed before coming in. And you shouldn’t be avoiding a conversation topic because it might be too touchy.
When you are married, this person should help relieve your stress, not add to it.
#8 Codependence. Codependence is one of the most unhealthy things in a relationship, and one of the signs of a toxic marriage. A healthy marriage contains two individuals, not just one relationship. Codependence manifests into a lack of self-reliance, fear of being alone, and irrational dependency.
Codependence in a marriage can be masked as closeness. In reality, it is an unhealthy level of dependence.
#9 Distance from your support system. When a marriage is truly toxic, it does not let anything healthy play a part. It will eat away at your external support. It will remove you from those who add goodness and light into your life. This makes a toxic marriage even more toxic because there is no entry point for something to fix it.
A toxic marriage will cut you off from friends and family, financial independence, and more, so that you must rely on that toxic marriage for everything.
#10 Disrespect. A poor marriage that is lacking communication and intimacy usually still contains respect. It lost the good stuff but is still neutral. This is called a stagnant marriage. But, once your relationship has lost respect, it has crossed the line into toxic.
The marriage is no longer in a hopeful state. When your fights go from tiffs to screaming matches where you say things you regret and hit below the belt, it is near impossible to come back from that and is one of the signs of a toxic marriage.
#11 Fear. If fear is the fighting force in your marriage, it is toxic and beyond a cure. Fear eats away at you in a way no other feeling can. It can manifest in actual physical sickness. Whether you fear your partner or yourself or admitting defeat, fear within a marriage cracks every surface.
How to end a toxic marriage
Ending a toxic marriage is not an easy thing. Even realizing that your marriage is toxic takes immense strength. Toxic marriages are not all beyond hope, but making your way from toxic to just neutral is much more than a battle, but a war, and a long one at that.
It is near impossible to remedy these signs of a toxic marriage into a cordial divorce or a better marriage without the help of a professional. A toxic marriage will not be fixed with a weekend away or weekly date night.
A toxic marriage needs damage control. Even if you want to come to a settlement so that ending it isn’t as brutal as the marriage itself. Engaging with a mediator or therapist is your best bet for a positive outcome.
Carrying out a separation and divorce from a toxic marriage is often lengthy and draining, both emotionally and financially. But by bringing in a professional, you can start to heal.
Identifying the signs of a toxic marriage can lead you to actual happiness and a lightness you may not have felt in a long time. Take your time and discuss these with your husband or wife, and if all else fails, speak to a professional. It’s your last fighting chance.