10 Obvious Signs You’re In A Toxic Marriage

Sometimes, it is hard to see if you're in a toxic marriage and how it is negatively affecting your life. Here are some things to consider if you are unsure whether your relationship truly is “for better”.

When you are married, it can be tough to see the negativity in your partner. They may not be the right fit for you, or perhaps even engage in some really negative behaviors that can be detrimental to your mental health.

So, how do you know if your relationship is toxic? If you are questioning the health of your relationship and have a hunch you could be in a negative situation, you likely are. If you are still wavering, here are 10 definitive signs your relationship is unhealthy.

1. Your partner stifles you

Conflict between man and woman sitting on either side of a wall

One of the main objectives of a relationship is to allow each other to have their own identity and goals, and support each other in endeavors. If your partner does not do that and, instead, tries to assert their own agenda over yours, your relationship is not healthy.

A stifling partner may also try to compete with your successes, or even try and manipulate your feelings.

This is a form of emotional abuse and, over time, you can be degraded to the point where you are not willing to express opinions in front of the other person, suffer from low self-esteem or are self-conscious about everything.

You may second guess yourself constantly and feel you cannot do anything correctly. These feelings will allow the “stifler” to have full control over you and any situation you are both involved, especially if you turn to them for advice in every circumstance.

2. Your spouse is prone to gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of mental and psychological abuse. Christine Louis de Canonville, a psychotherapist, describes it as “…a form of psychological abuse used by narcissists in order to instill in their victim’s an extreme sense of anxiety and confusion to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment.

The techniques used in ‘Gaslighting’ by the narcissist are similar to those used in brainwashing, interrogation, and torture that have been used in psychological warfare by intelligence operative, law enforcement and other forces for decades”.

The abuser is able to take control, due to the diminished self-confidence of the abused party.

If your spouse constantly makes you feel as if you are doing something or thinking something that is incorrect, even in situations you know they are wrong, they may be gaslighting you.

If you are withdrawing from your friends, or your family is expressing concern at your spouse’s manipulation, you may be experiencing gaslighting.

Psychology Today has an excellent article and checklist about gaslighting and how to recognize it. If any of these signs resonate with you, it is important to get out of the relationship as it will only get much more toxic.

3. They are never wrong, and rarely apologize

The lack of being wrong is similar to gaslighting, but could also be due to arrogance, especially if your spouse never apologizes.

It is never easy to admit you are wrong and say you are sorry, but no one is right all of the time. It shows a lack of respect and a feeling of superiority if you are never willing to admit your weaknesses to your partner.

4. You are a parent to your spouse

Couple at home woman cleaning while man is resting on sofa

If you constantly have to do everything in your household and your partner, though capable, is completely unable to function on their own, your relationship is toxic.

Even if you are willing to play “pseudo-mum/dad” for the time being, you will eventually burn out, much the same as caring for someone with an illness. You can become quite resentful of your partner, perhaps angry, or even verbally abusive.

These dynamics are not healthy, and if either of you refuse to work at changing this, it will only lead to issues in the long run.

5. Encouragement is not present in your marriage

Encouragement and support of your partner is important in any relationship. If your partner is not encouraging towards you, or is even dismissive of your accomplishments, this is a sign of toxicity.

6. Your spouse abuses you (verbally, emotionally or physically)

Abuse in any form is NEVER okay, and is sure sign of toxicity. If you are experiencing abuse of any kind, GET OUT OF THE SITUATION IMMEDIATELY. Go to a local emergency shelter if necessary or stay with friends or family who are positive supports, and seek help to deal with your situation.

7. Constant disrespect towards your family and friends

Your family and friends are a reflection of you. It is one thing to discuss a negative situation in your family—e.g. “I can’t believe Uncle John is so disrespectful to Aunt Sally”—but if your spouse constantly berates or mocks your friends or family, it is a sign that they do not respect you.

If there is no respect in your relationship, you do not have a strong foundation, and accordingly, you should terminate it.

8. Your needs are not considered in decision-making, whether major or minor

Similarly, if your needs and desires are not considered in making decisions, your partner does not respect you; therefore, you likely have an unhealthy relationship. This can pertain to major decisions (e.g. buying a home) as well as minor ones (e.g. where to go for supper).

Healthy relationships involve both partners’ input and compromise. If your partner is not willing to take your feelings into account, this likely bleeds into many other areas of your life as well.

9. Disagreements are about “winning,” not resolving an issue

Sad girlfriend crying while is looking her engagement ring

One of the major keys to a healthy relationship is to fight fairly and resolve problems in a constructive way. In a toxic relationship, spouses simply try to “win” the argument by any means necessary, whether by name calling, abusive language, yelling or manipulation (e.g. “Remember such and such a wrong thing you did at such and such time? I’m still mad about that!”).

10. Your spouse tries manipulation or control tactics with you

Similar to gaslighting, stifling and abuse, if your partner exhibits any other manipulation or control tactics with you, you are in a toxic situation you need to rid yourself of. This could include things like constant texting when you are away from them checking in on you, setting a curfew for you, hiding your keys or trying to turn you against your friends and family.

If you see any of the signs present in your relationship, get out while you can and seek out helping resources in your area. This will ensure you can better yourself, and be prepared for a healthier relationship that will present itself in the future!

Have you been in a toxic relationship or toxic marriage before? What other signs could you add to this list?


About the author

Lisa H.

Lisa is versatile, being a Psychology-trained addictions worker by day, writer by night. She enjoys traveling, dance, & can squat her body weight. Her dream is to integrate her education & love of writing into a sustaining career.

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