Speaking from the heart ladies, there are many signs of a toxic marriage and even more signs of a toxic man. Identifying these signs can be the difference between literal and figurative life and death. Everyone who takes the leap of marriage at some level, dreams of the beautifully fantastic wedding day and then the happily-ever-after marriage. Unfortunately, too many times those dreams turn into nightmares, as is evidenced by the ridiculously high rate of divorce.
The truth of the matter is that marriage is hard work! In fact, I think the only other job that’s harder (yet, amazingly rewarding, is parenthood). Marriage requires commitment, thoughtful communication, respect, trust and honesty. Without these very basic morals, a marriage simply cannot survive and in my humble, married opinion, all of these morals equal LOVE. When a marriage goes south, typically one or both partner’s actions have become unhealthy and destructive. Some signs that you are in a Toxic Marriage or married to a Toxic Man are:
- Emotional/Verbal/Physical Abuse is occurring – Physical abuse is easy to recognize because it is visible, albeit painful and humiliating. However, emotional and verbal abuse is a lot more difficult to detect, and because of that it can often be even more painful and humiliating. Enough focus is not placed on the affects of emotional abuse. Oftentimes, an emotional abuser exhibits passive aggressive behavior, i.e., (silent wars for long periods of time; sleeping in separate rooms of your home; backhanded compliments; refusing to protect you; etc.) Sometimes I think that the world has become so jaded that everything has to be show-and-prove…if I can’t see it then it isn’t! Here’s the thing, emotional abuse is VERY REAL and VERY DAMAGING to individuals and families. If you are emotionally abused, you likely feel worthless, extremely insecure, and you may even question your own sanity. Seek help!
- Bone Numbing Fatigue – this can be a sign of many things, but it can also be a key sign to look for when you’re in a Toxic Marriage. Reasons: You are emotionally drained; you may have a sensation of not knowing whether you’re coming or going, you may just feel like you cannot take another step. If you’re not careful this (and all of the other signs) can lead to severe, long-term depression.
- You and your spouse bring out the worst in each other – Maybe at one time you were loving and supportive towards one another, but for whatever reason(s) you have become enemies and tear each other apart through criticism, passive aggressive behaviors and the like . You can no longer turn to your spouse for emotional or any other kind of real support.
- No Sex – it has been documented time and time again, that a sexless marriage is a doomed marriage. Sex is like the glue of a marriage because it helps to bond and solidify the union of two people that have committed to be with and support each other.
- No Intimacy – I separate intimacy from sex because the two are NOT one-in-the-same. If there is no affection shown between partners, what is the point? Unless you are a robot, you need this almost as much as you need oxygen. Lack of intimacy signifies the end of your marriage. This is also especially harmful if you have children (of any age)! We (adults) often believe that staying for the kids is a justification for putting up with this behavior, when in fact, whether you see it now or later, the harm that you and your spouse cause can be irreparable. After all, children grow up to be adults that either emulate what they’ve seen or (on either end of the spectrum) or who run as far away from you as possible. If you want your children to grow up to have HEALTHY relationships, you must evaluate your options and make a definitive decision to work it out or leave.
- You are only roommates – Again I ask, what is the point? You deserve better than this! Staying for the children is not the answer because you will be robbing them of the very thing they need most “YOU”.
- Addiction – if your spouse has some type of addiction, whether drugs, alcohol, sexual, or other, your spouse will unlikely be able to be present in your marriage. I can tell you from the experiences of close friends, the latter addiction is demoralizing and extremely destructive to individuals and families alike.
- Infidelity (Chronic or not) – Again if you are in this situation, this is extremely demoralizing, downright disrespectful and in today’s world, obviously enormously dangerous.
- Loss of Self-esteem – If you have become uncharacteristically or intensely insecure or have questions such as “Who the heck am I” frequently, these are other forms of emotional abuse which is so difficult to qualify. You should convey your feelings to someone you trust and who knows you well because they will be able to detect this, sometimes subtle change, in you and may be able to help you get back on solid ground.
- Feeling Trapped – this is another dangerous situation because as they say, trapped or cornered animals can be the most dangerous…they can lash out quite violently when they feel threatened. Humans aren’t much different. Ultimately, no good can come of this or any of the other signs long term.
SIGNS OF A TOXIC MAN
- He is NEVER wrong – It’s always someone else’s fault! Have you ever been in a situation where your spouse can point out everything that someone else or you have done wrong, but when asked to look in a mirror, he looks at you like you’re a mad woman! I refer to this as a “Special Kind of Madness” Otherwise known as the characteristics of a sociopath and a narcissist listed below.
- He exhibits sociopathic behaviors – superficial charm; well spoken wordsmith or fantastic spin doctor; manipulative; shallow emotions; lack of remorse, shame or guilt; Promiscuity; Chameleon, controlling; etc.
- He exhibits narcissistic behaviors – preoccupation with hiding flaws (basically he wears a mask in public and shows his true self at home); incredible sense of entitlement; overestimation of importance; lack of empathy for others; inability to take constructive or any other kind of criticism but can dish it out relentlessly; controlling
- Your man exhibits Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde tendencies – Clearly, this man displays at least two personalities in his body. One minute he’s hot and the next he’s cold. Everyday you have to check to see what the weather forcast will be with your man. Of key importance here, these personalities are at completely OPPOSITE levels, one can seem kind and the other can be a maniac. This is also known as split personality disorder!
If you find yourself in a Toxic Marriage, seek help immediately! If you can’t get professional counseling or are ambivalent about it, speak to family, friends, clergy or anyone you trust the most! You may find that you have become isolated from your loved ones, reach out anyway and share your story with them…guaranteed that if they care about you they will listen and do their best to help you. The worst thing you can do if you find yourself in a Toxic Marriage to a Toxic Man, is to STAY SILENT! Even if you are an extremely private person, I cannot stress enough just how dangerous that is. Staying silent, is akin to giving your Toxic Man the license to victimize you.
Remember that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! You are, believe it or not, in very good company… there are millions of people living in toxic marriages. You may have heard the expression before “Fools Rush In”…take it to heart because the smart thing to do is not to rush getting out without a plan. Be very strategic because if you are indeed in a Toxic Marriage, your spouse will most likely be enraged when faced with your new found power to leave. Remember control is the name of the game with most toxic spouses; therefore the very idea of losing control will most likely foster a fierce need to regain it.
Obviously toxic marriages include both men and women; this article just happens to be geared specifically to women!
This was a lot of food for thought, I hope it helps! I would love to hear your stories and comments.