What are some signs of a toxic marriage?
There are four significant indicators of a harmful union:
1- Unequal decision-making.
One party makes all the significant decisions affecting both parties, such as where to reside, buying a house or renting, selecting a home or apartment, having children, dividing household chores, and so on. In a marriage, decision-making is a shared responsibility. If one partner consistently makes all the significant decisions, there may be a significant power imbalance in the relationship. It's improbable that one partner always has all the right answers, and the other never has an idea or feeling about what's being decided.
2- Sexual or emotional intimacy is a weapon.
Instead of being an opportunity to connect and maintain or build closeness, intimacy is used as a bargaining tool. Being close during marriage is crucial to its well-being, whether through sexual intimacy or simple gestures like hugging, holding hands, sharing deep feelings, or just spending time together. Withholding intimacy in any form, unless one's demands are met, is a warning signal. It's also a way to exert power in a toxic relationship. Healthy marriages require connection and closeness.
Everyone tells small lies from time to time, such as "I didn't mean to purchase whole milk; I thought it was skim." However, when lying about significant things, such as not paying the rent or withholding information, it becomes a big issue. Healthy marriages require honest and effective communication about everything. If you can't rely on your partner, whom you're entrusting with your mind, body, and many other aspects of your life and well-being, then you can't have a healthy marriage. Occasional small lies are acceptable, but lying or withholding information is not acceptable in a healthy marriage.
Name calling is a form of emotional abuse. If your partner consistently makes mean comments or cruel nicknames, it's not a joke. Toxic people often engage in this kind of behavior. Suppose you see this in your marriage. In that case, it might be time to seek professional assistance to help you gain the clarity and skills necessary to improve things or make the decision to end the relationship.
How can you handle a toxic marriage?
1- Prioritize self-care
Toxic marriages don't create the same love, commitment, and ongoing consistent connection that healthy marriages do. This lack of support and positive regard can leave you feeling emotionally drained. Prioritizing self-care is essential for your well-being if you're in a toxic marriage. Establish regular routines for sleeping, eating, and exercising. Schedule time to socialize with friends and family, even if it's online. Keep a journal where you can express your thoughts, feelings, and needs.
2- Determine what you'll do to make changes in your marriage.
It's difficult, but make a few basic decisions about what you'll do now that you've recognized you're in a toxic marriage. Will you seek individual therapy for support and clarity? Will you try couples therapy to work through the issues? Will you speak with your religious clergy or seek spiritual advice or guidance about your marriage? Write out a plan for addressing these issues and discuss them with your spouse. Give things time and reassess where things are.
3- Maintain balance in your life
Living a balanced life is crucial, including things that are just for you. Consider having hobbies you enjoy, exploring a job, career, or educational skill set you want to pursue, and maintaining or improving your physical or emotional health. All of these bring balance into your life, so you have well-being, value, and purpose outside of your toxic marriage. This will set you up to improve your marriage or to leave it if that's what you decide.
4- Be truthful
Being honest with yourself and others is essential when dealing with a toxic marriage. Talk to your friends, family, or loved ones about how you're feeling and the issues you're experiencing in your marriage. Openly discussing your struggles and seeking support can give you greater clarity and provide you with the support you need. Being truthful with yourself about what you want and need in a relationship can also help you make healthier long-term decisions.
What are the effects of a toxic marriage?
Here are the four most common effects of a toxic marriage:
1- Physical, Mental, and Emotional Health Effects
The ongoing stress of a toxic marriage can take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Physical effects like weight gain or loss, the development or worsening of health issues like hypertension, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and more, can arise due to the stress of a toxic marriage. A toxic marriage is incredibly stressful, so you may feel emotionally drained, leading to low self-esteem, feelings of failure, and emotional abuse effects.
2- Financial Effects
In a toxic marriage, the power imbalance may leave you in a situation where you agreed to or made decisions that weren't in your best financial interest. You may find yourself struggling with loan payments for an overly expensive car or home, credit card bills, or vacation travel you couldn't afford. This can be a turning point for many partners to leave toxic marriages.
3- Relationship Challenges
Your other relationships may be impacted as an effect of your toxic marriage. The ongoing stress of a toxic marriage does not leave much space to build and maintain other necessary connections with people in your life. You may have become estranged from once close friends, family members, and others that have been key to you.
4- Career Challenges
The loss of focus, energy, and lack of support in a toxic marriage can create a situation where pursuing your career goals is not an option. Many individuals find themselves unable to even create a vision for themselves after being in a toxic marriage for an extended period, let alone pursue career goals and dreams.
It's important to take your time and get to know your partner before entering a marriage. If you find yourself in a toxic marriage, seek support and prioritize self-care. Determine what you want and need in a relationship, and be truthful with yourself and others. Recognize the effects of a toxic marriage on your physical, mental, and emotional health, your finances, your relationships, and your career, and take steps to improve your situation.