Every marriage has its ups and downs. We all have our moments when we aren’t feeling quite right. But someone that has a toxic spouse experiences more bad days than good in the relationship.
What Is A Toxic Marriage?
A toxic marriage is one in which either spouse engages in behavior that is physically or emotionally harmful to their partner. These types of relationships are often unstable and can quickly become unsafe.
Some characteristics of a toxic marriage:
· Your spouse controls you.
· Your spouse is extremely jealous or insecure.
· Your spouse says demeaning things to you or about in public and/or private.
· Compromise in your relationship is one-sided because your spouse refuses to account for your wants and needs.
· There is a loss of boundaries and mutual respect in your relationship.
More Characteristics Of A Toxic Marriage:
· Your Spouse Is Angry All The Time
If your spouse is never, or very rarely, in a good mood this can be a sign they are toxic. Your spouse may exhibit signs of anger in the car driving, in the store where others are shopping, at a restaurant while being waited on, or even when someone else is trying to help them. If you notice the tension and stress start building around the time they are due home, you are anxious about going home, or if once you are home you are afraid to say anything that will make the your spouse mad, you might be living in a toxic marriage.
· You Lie About Your Relationship to Family and Friends
If people ask you how things are at home and you tell them everything is okay and it’s not, this is a sign that you may be living in a toxic marriage. If you feel ashamed or guilty about your living situation, or you don’t want to deal with unsolicited advice about how badly you are being treated at home, you might be in denial about how serious your situation is.
Rest assured, your toxic spouse isn’t hiding a thing. Your toxic spouse is giving all the details of every fight or comment to their friends, family, and coworkers, and is likely embellishing what you said or did as they go along. They are trying to justify their reactions and show outsiders how much of a victim they are in the relationship. This is a toxic spouse’s way of being sure that their partner is seen as the bad guy and that they are seen as the good guy.
· You Feel Tired or Drained All the Time
If you are constantly tired and drained even though you are getting enough sleep this could be a sign that things are not right in your relationship. Going to sleep tired and waking up tired isn’t healthy. You should be waking up in the morning feeling rejuvenated, ready to have a productive day.
Negativity that comes from a toxic relationship can be draining. If you are tense around your partner, walking on eggshells, always thinking about whether your actions or decisions will make your partner happy or not, your relationship is figuratively sucking the life from you.
· Your Spouse Throws Temper Tantrums
Many times people in toxic relationships will avoid disagreeing with their spouse in order to keep the peace. Your spouse might rarely show their temper to others, or it will be a joke about where they got it from but no one will ever see the explosive temper. Your spouse might be seen as an easy-going, likeable person.
· Your Spouse Constantly Blames You
A toxic spouse will constantly blame their partner. If you don’t do what is expected or desired it will send your spouse overboard. If they were having a bad day and you didn’t respond correctly, it can feel as though you are now at fault for your spouse’s mood. .
Responding To A Toxic Spouse
Sometimes we can slip into a toxic relationship and not even realize we are there. Once we are in a toxic relationship we may fantasize about leaving. When you have a disagreement with your spouse, you might regularly run for the door. But there are ways that you can handle or deal with a toxic partner that can help you get yourself back on track within your relationship.
You can’t change your spouse, but you can change how you respond to situations within your relationship.
· Realize Their Behavior Is Not “Just Who They Are”
By walking on eggshells you are enabling the toxic behavior of your partner. How they behave is not okay and shouldn’t be tolerated. Just as you would not allow a child to throw a tantrum you should not accept that behavior from your partner. If a child gets what they want when they cry in a store they will continue to do it. Your toxic spouse is the same way. Stop making excuses and start setting boundaries.
· Use Your Voice and Set Realistic Boundaries
Easier said than done, but well worth it in the end. You need to be sure that you voice your opinions or desires and then make sure that they are followed through on.
You can say things like:
“I don’t like it when you talk to me like that. When you are ready to speak to me with respect we can talk.”
“What you said hurt me. Did you mean to do that?”
“I can see you are upset. Please don’t yell at me. What happened to make you so angry?”
If these don’t work announce that you will be back when they are ready to speak like an adult and then leave the room to give them and you some space. If they follow, repeat your request and do not fall into the argument by screaming or raising your voice. Sometimes it takes a couple of times to sink in that you are not giving into their tantrum.
· Don’t Take Toxic Behavior To Heart
This part is really hard. But toxic behavior is not about you, it is about controlling you. A toxic partner has one of two things going on. They either: (a) think that they have no control around them so they need the control in their relationship, or (b) they are controlling with everyone. It isn’t about you really being the demeaning things they say you are. Often they are projecting their feelings of self onto you.
To make yourself feel better start each day with a positive affirmation. Maybe something like “I am a good and strong person.” Keep a few in your reach for when you are feeling down. Also try journaling. When you feel bad make a list of all your great qualities or the blessings in your life.
· Take a “Time Out”
Make sure that you take plenty of time for yourself. Do things you like or just sit in the uninterrupted silence. The moments you take will rejuvenate you and give you strength for the changes you are trying to make.
The last two tips are the most important.
1. Seek some professional help. A therapist can be a wonderful support while you are trying to work through the changes ahead. Therapy is a safe place to think through all of the tough decisions you might have to make.
2. If your spouse becomes physically abusive, you need to contact your local authorities, a friend, or the local women’s/men’s shelter. They have experience in abusive situations and can get you the help you need. Remember your safety comes first.