Many divorcing couples say that their marriages have become toxic. This often leads them to feel emotionally, physically, or mentally unsafe. They become keenly aware of the lack of communication and respect and report extensive conflict.
Learning the signs of a toxic marriage can help you gain clarity and recognize burgeoning problems in your own situation.
What is a Toxic Marriage?
Toxic relationships became a topic of interest for many when Lillian Glass, Ph.D., published the book Toxic People in 1995.
Psychologists, relationship experts, and lawyers quickly became familiar with her definition of a toxic relationship as one in which partners:
- Don’t support each other
- Maintain constant conflict
- Seek to undermine the other
- Show competition or disrespect
- Demonstrate a lack of cohesiveness
Sometimes, one partner may realize the problems right from the start. In many cases, however, couples settle into a pattern and subconsciously feel trapped in a cycle of pain.
Sign #1–Your Spouse Tries to Control You or Aspects of Your Life
A controlling spouse uses manipulation tactics and lies to place limits on their partner.
Controlling behavior can involve:
- Limiting access to finances
- Telling the other spouse who they are allowed to communicate with
- Encouraging a partner not to talk to friends
Controlling behavior tends to escalate, and should be seen as a red flag. If ignored, controlling behavior could snowball into physical violence.
Sign #2– You Cannot Go to Your Spouse for Emotional Support
Communication and trust are the cornerstones of any successful relationship. When one partner cannot go to the other for emotional support, it suggests that both of those key elements are lacking. You may feel that your partner:
- Does not listen to you
- Does not care about your needs
- Is indifferent to your struggles
If you do not ever feel safe confiding worries or concerns to your partner, it is indicative of a toxic marriage.
Sign #3–You Constantly Fight or Never Resolve Issues
Every married couple fights and no marriage is perfect. When a couple spends more time fighting than enjoying each other’s company, that is a sign of a toxic marriage.
A healthy relationship includes disagreements where both parties learn from their mistakes and improve their communication styles. An unhealthy relationship, by contrast, features petty arguments that snowball into larger altercations that never reach a resolution. Partners in toxic marriages become adversarial and even resentful of the other.
Sign #4–Dishonesty About Finances
A marriage is a partnership based on a legal agreement. If one party is dishonest about finances or engages in questionable behavior financially, they put the other party at risk.
Dishonesty in any way, especially financially, is risky and a sign of a toxic marriage.
Sign #5–You Feel Stressed or Depressed All of the Time
Stressors and sadness are both parts of life that everyone will encounter. However, stress and sadness become problematic when a marriage constantly causes these feelings.
Your partner should not make you feel anxious or depressed the majority of the time. Either of these is a symptom of a toxic marriage.
Help When You are Trapped in a Toxic Marriage
If you feel you are in a toxic marriage, talk to an experienced legal counselor at Naimi Family Law Group to learn about your options. We help struggling partners break free and find their best way forward.