A marriage requires time, effort and communication to keep it healthy. A healthy relationship requires working with your spouse to work through disagreements. It also requires accepting and tolerating the faults, moods and imperfections of your spouse. It can be troublesome at times and emotions can ebb and flow. On the other hand, a toxic marriage requires healthy change before it damages your sense of self. If not, dissolving the marriage may be necessary.
Couples who constantly argue, belittle each other or are on the defense have lost the ability to communicate openly about issues in their marriage. Perhaps, communication has shut down completely. One or both spouses have given up trying to work on their issues together. The longer you go without talking about your issues, the more distance and tension there will be in your marriage, according to Susan Heitler, a Denver, Colorado-based psychologist in the WebMD article, "Is Your Marriage Toxic?" Heitler recommends self-help books, websites, marriage education courses or a marriage counselor who specializes in communication to begin to improve communication in your marriage.
While one person may be toxic, it takes the both of you to maintain the dysfunctional toxicity in your relationship, according to Thomas L. Cory, Ph.D., in his article, "Toxic Relationship," published on the Health Scope website. A toxic marriage compromises the safety within the marriage. It becomes impossible, as fear builds, to be yourself. Feelings of security are compromised, and the toxic partner often displays dominance, control and self-centeredness. The toxic spouse is often manipulative in the presence of the spouse and the complete opposite in the public eye.
The Blame Game
Toxic partners may blame their spouse rather than take responsibility for their part in the marital problems, according to Sharon Rivkin, family therapist, on WebMD. Blaming often causes further deterioration in your marriage. It may cause your partner to shut you out, especially if the fighting intensifies. Look for the reasons behind your need to blame and fight with your spouse. Ask yourself what you want from your partner and what needs aren't getting met. As you begin to work on yourself and make small changes, there is a stronger likelihood that your partner will change in response to you.
Toxic marriages are characterized by a lack of mutual respect, according to Elayne Savage, Ph.D. and author of "Breathing Room: Creating Space to Be a Couple," in a "Woman's Day" article. When mutual respect diminishes, partners often retreat to their own corners either defending themselves or planning their next attack. The distance between them continues to widen. The toxicity in the marriage generally leaves one partner feeling continuously rejected and unloved.
- Gary Houlder/Photodisc/Getty Images