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Signs of a Toxic Marriage

Being stuck in a toxic marriage can be extremely difficult. Not only that, it could cause you to suffer from serious mental health issues. Unfortunately, many people find themselves in marriages that are toxic, often because after the initial period of butterflies and passion is gone, their spouse shows their true colors.

Sometimes marriage becomes toxic through equal fault on both parties, sometimes due to the fact that they rushed into marriage too young and have grown into different individuals as adults. Personal growth is wonderful, but often spouses do not grow at the same rate, and conflict arises.  Unless resolved, that conflict sometimes evolves into resentment.  

As Fort Worth divorce lawyers, we have handled countless divorces on behalf of our clients. This means we have seen every form of toxic marriage imaginable.

If you are unsure whether or not your marriage is toxic, you already know and are looking to your next steps, or you want to spot the signs early so you can attempt to put measures in place, here are the most common signs of a toxic marriage and how to spot them.

If you are considering divorce proceedings, or you simply need to discuss your options, call us today at 817-369-3970. We can provide a sympathetic ear, and offer advice on the options available to you.

Ask a Fort Worth Divorce Lawyer: What is a Toxic Marriage?

A toxic marriage is a marriage in which the partners are unable to build trust, create a healthy and balanced relationship, or remain committed to the promises they have made to each other. Toxic marriages are characterized by constant conflict, emotional manipulation, criticism, and a lack of respect for one another. In these types of relationships, one or both partners may feel disconnected, unheard, and disrespected.

Additionally, there may be a lack of emotional intimacy and trust between the two partners. Common issues in toxic marriages include poor communication skills, unhappiness in the relationship, unresolved issues from past relationships, jealousy, infidelity, and a lack of understanding of each other’s needs. It is often difficult to recognize when a marriage is becoming toxic as the signs can be subtle, and it can take time for them to build up.

Signs You’re in a Toxic Marriage

Often, in a toxic marriage, one or both partners already suspect that the relationship is toxic. When you begin to develop negative feelings towards your partner that you once loved, it can be a sign that you are no longer in a healthy relationship.

Sometimes the feelings may be more subtle, and you may feel guilty. There may be some anxiety or a general unease. You may begin to find them less attractive or want to spend more time apart.

After handling countless divorces, and listening compassionately to hundreds of clients, here are the tell-tale signs of a toxic marriage.

Your spouse has a personality that changes in a split second

Half of the time, your spouse is loving and caring, but their mood and temper can change at the drop of a pin, and they can become angry or resentful towards you after little provocation. After a drastic mood change from your spouse, you may wonder what happened that ruined the day.  And you may be surprised by the intensity of the hurtful things your spouse may say.  Perhaps  you have experienced situations with your spouse that you could even understand why they are upset, but you still do not understand why they are that upset, or why they said such over-the-top hurtful things.  These are examples of a toxic relationship.

You’re suffering from mental health problems, such as feeling depressed or anxious

While lots of things can be the root cause of a mental health problem, a healthy marriage should provide support and comfort and should alleviate your problems, not worsen them. A toxic marriage can both cause and exacerbate mental health problems.

If you have developed anxiety, a feeling of loneliness, or depression since you got married, you should speak to a therapist.

A toxic marriage can be draining, both emotionally and physically, and when you feel tired and drained all the time as a result of your marriage, you are at a much higher risk of mental health problems.

You overcompensate or defend your marriage to either your spouse or your friends and family

A common defense mechanism that you may find yourself guilty of, is defending your spouses’ actions to your friends and family or constantly telling them your marriage is better than it is.

If your friends and family have concerns over your partners’ behavior, it is common to redirect your negative emotions to them, falling out over their comments and becoming defensive.

You begin to hide your money, friends, or activities from your partner

If you either feel the need to hide your movements and money from your spouse, or they begin to demand to know what you are doing and who you are seeing, these are both red flags.

Healthy relationships are built on trust, and you should both have healthy social circles that do not rely on your spouse.

If your spouse is exhibiting controlling behavior, such as demanding to see your phone or controlling what you spend, this is a form of abuse. If, as a result, you have begun to lie and hide where you were, or your money, this is toxic behavior on both parts.

You have thoughts or have cheated on your spouse, or believe they have thoughts of cheating, or have cheated on you.

Of course, one of the biggest signs of a toxic marriage is if you have thoughts of cheating on your spouse or have actually cheated on your spouse. Equally so, if your spouse has cheated on you, or you suspect they may wish to, this is a sign of a toxic relationship.  

You have no sexual desire for your spouse at all. 

Perhaps you have no desire for sexual intimacy at all.  Having worked with so many people trapped in toxic marriages, we know that people often go months or years without being sexually intimate with their spouse in a toxic marriage.  If you have no sexual desire for your spouse, there is something terribly wrong with your marriage.  Likewise, if your spouse does not have sexual desire for you, then something is wrong with the relationship. There is nothing sexy about a toxic marriage, so a lack of attraction is normal in these situations.  Lack of intimate desire is a sure sign of toxic marriages.  

You no longer go to your partner for support when you have emotional issues

If you find yourself confiding in your family and friends instead of your partner when things go wrong, or you find yourself needing to vent about your partner regularly, this is a sign you no longer have trust or feel supported in a marriage.

If, when you do go to your spouse for emotional support, they do not pay attention or act indifferent to your problems, this is a bad sign, as it shows disrespect towards you and your needs.

Everything is always your fault

Often in a marriage, toxic people will blame one partner for everything that goes wrong. In a healthy marriage, you tackle problems together, whether they are one person’s fault or not. If you find yourself the scapegoat for everything that goes wrong in their lives or in your marriage, this is a sign of a toxic marriage.

You spend more time with your children than with your spouse

If you find yourself spending a lot more time with your kids and not with your spouse, this is often the start of a marriage that is becoming toxic. In a healthy marriage, you should still find time to go on dates and enjoy spending time with each other.

Your spouse exhibits controlling behavior

Emotional abuse can be just as harmful as physical abuse, and if your partner is controlling your movements, your phone, your time, money, or who you are allowed to see, this is a major red flag.

Your spouse gaslights or manipulates you

Gaslighting, where a person makes you question what you know to be true by constantly telling you that your version of events is wrong, is often a method used to manipulate you. They may do this to make you question your memories of them acting unreasonably.

You have given them lots of final chances

If you have already confronted your spouse about their actions and behaviors and they have promised you that they will change, but have broken promises and have shown no signs of wanting to change, this is a red flag.

If you’ve confronted your spouse over toxic behaviors, and they have broken promises to change on several occasions, it’s because you’re letting them get away with it, making you a toxic enabler.

You no longer involve them in important decisions

In a healthy marriage, you should discuss any important decision together. If you have begun to make important decisions in your life without your spouse, this is a sign the trust has been lost.

Stupid little fights become big stupid fights

Small fights in a toxic marriage can quickly become big fights if care is not taken to manage and resolve the situation. In a high-conflict relationship, these small disagreements can quickly escalate, leading to heated arguments and name-calling. Without proper communication and problem-solving skills, it can be difficult for couples to resolve their differences and keep things from spiraling out of control

You don’t feel relaxed around your spouse.

If you are in a toxic marriage, it can be difficult to relax around your partner. You may feel tense and anxious, worrying about how your partner will react to something you do or say. You may also feel like you always have to watch what you say and do in order to avoid conflict. It can be hard to let your guard down and relax in such an environment, as you may not feel safe or comfortable. It is important to recognize that these feelings are valid, and that you should take steps to protect yourself from this toxic dynamic.

You’d rather be anywhere but home

Often, when you have a toxic spouse or controlling partner, you go out of your way to spend time away from home. You may turn a simple trip to the shop into a 4 hour excursion, simply to avoid going home.  Going to work early and staying at work late so you can minimize your home time with your spouse is a clear sign of a toxic relationship.

You are suffering domestic abuse

Domestic abuse, either physical or emotional, is never acceptable. If you find yourself defending your partners’ actions in your head when they are being abusive, you must seek help as this is not only toxic, but it can be dangerous, especially if you have children.

If you need advice, call the national domestic violence hotline and seek professional help.

Sexual satisfaction

We often deal with a man complaining that they have a toxic wife or a woman complaining that they have a toxic husband simply because the marriage no longer contains any physical intimacy. Often, a toxic partner will withhold sex as a control mechanism, leaving the other partner feeling insecure and having low self-esteem. Sexual rejection can damage a person’s self-esteem severely over time.  If you are constantly rejecting your spouse’s sexual advances, or if you are constantly being rejected, there are toxic feelings involved.  

Is There Any Chance of Saving the Marriage? Advice From a Skilled Fort Worth Divorce Lawyer.

The answer to this question depends on the individual circumstances of your marriage. In some cases, it may be possible to salvage a toxic marriage with the help of a qualified therapist or marriage counselor. This type of professional can help both partners identify and address the underlying issues that are contributing to the toxicity and work towards rebuilding trust and communication.  However, you are only responsible for one half of the marriage.  If you seek counseling, but your spouse refuses, that may be a sign that your spouse no longer even wants to try to save the marriage.  

In other cases, however, it may be necessary to seek legal advice. A qualified Fort Worth divorce lawyer can provide you with information about the laws in your state and advise you on the best course of action for ending your marriage.

They can also help you understand your rights and responsibilities under the law and ensure that you are treated fairly during the process.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether or not there is any chance of saving your toxic marriage. If you believe that it is possible, then seeking professional help may be worth exploring. On the other hand, if you feel that it is time to move on, then speaking with a divorce attorney Fort Worth residents trust, like those at Youngblood Law, PLLC can be a helpful step towards achieving a brighter new future.

A few signs you are in an unhealthy relationship and may need to consider ending it

  • You no longer feel safe and secure in your relationship.
  • You fear for your safety, or the safety of your children.
  • You or your spouse cheated.
  • You no longer feel attraction or love towards your partner.
  • You don’t trust them anymore.
  • Chronic substance abuse.

How to Leave a Toxic Marriage

Ending toxic relationships can be difficult, but it is possible. If you are in a relationship where you feel disrespected, unsafe or unappreciated, it is important to take steps to leave the marriage.

The following steps can help you leave a toxic marriage:

Identify the Problem

Before you can make any changes in your relationship, you must identify what is causing the toxicity. This could include identifying patterns of behavior, such as verbal or physical abuse, or recognizing negative thoughts or beliefs that are fueling the toxicity.

Seek Support

It can be difficult to leave a toxic marriage on your own, so it is important to seek out support from family and friends. Talking to a therapist or counselor can also be beneficial as they can help you work through your feelings and create a plan for leaving the marriage safely.

You should also get in contact with a Fort Worth divorce attorney, one that can help you get your affairs in order and ready to divorce. This is essential if you are leaving a marriage that involves physical abuse or emotional abuse from a toxic person.

Create a Plan

Once you have identified the problem and sought out support, you should create a plan for leaving the marriage.

You will need to consider where you will go while your divorce is being finalized, especially if you worry about what your partner will do when they find out.

If you are seriously concerned, you may be able to ask your attorney to file a protection order for you and your kids if you have any.

Make Safety Your Priority

When leaving a toxic marriage, it is important to prioritize your safety. If possible, plan ahead for any potential violence that may occur when leaving the marriage by having an escape route and creating a safety plan with family or friends who can provide assistance if needed.

The Divorce Proceedings

When a spouse is a narcissist or controlling, they often don’t see the divorce coming, and this means they can react in unpredictable ways, such as violence or threats, destruction of property, or verbal abuse.

They may become unhinged, trying to win you back with grand gestures one minute, before exploding into rage the next minute. The best thing you can do is to avoid engaging with their behavior, and do not let them control you or influence your decisions.


Often, the abusive or toxic spouse will try to manipulate the children in the marriage. They will avoid being angry or acting in their toxic manners around the children, and may attempt to alienate you, convincing the children you are mean or the reason for the divorce.

Unfortunately, as a parent, you have to do this, as your toxic marriage will have a terrible effect on the children in the long term. Just keep notes of your spouse’s actions and behavior, because the courts will frown heavily upon anyone attempting to alienate their spouse. This may play in your favor when it comes to pursuing a child custody arrangement.

Family members and friends

Explaining what happened, or being challenged by your friends and family is a difficult part of leaving a toxic marriage. Often, the other spouse will have manipulated them and may have convinced them that you are the toxic one.

How to Heal After Your Toxic Marriage has Ended

Healing after a toxic marriage can be a difficult and emotional process. It is important to take your time and be gentle with yourself as you move through the healing process. Here are some steps to consider:

Acknowledge and Accept your Feelings

It is important to recognize and accept the range of emotions you may be feeling, such as anger, sadness, fear, and guilt. Allow yourself to feel these emotions without judgment, so that you can move through them in a healthy way.

Reach Out for Support

Connecting with supportive friends or family members can be a great way to cope with the aftermath of a toxic marriage. Joining a support group or seeking therapy can also help you work through your feelings and gain clarity on how to move forward.

Practice Self-Care

Taking care of yourself is essential for healing after a toxic marriage. This could involve activities such as getting enough rest, eating healthy meals, exercising regularly, meditating, and engaging in hobbies that bring you joy.

Set Healthy Boundaries

Establishing boundaries with yourself and others is an important part of healing after a toxic marriage. This could include setting limits on contact with your ex-spouse or limiting your exposure to triggers that remind you of the relationship.

Find Meaning and Purpose

After leaving a toxic marriage, it is important to focus on finding meaning and purpose in life again. This could involve finding new sources of joy, pursuing activities that bring you satisfaction, and setting goals that will help you create a more fulfilling life for yourself.

Healing after a toxic marriage can be difficult and overwhelming at times. However, by taking the time to acknowledge and accept your feelings, reach out for support, practice self-care, set healthy boundaries, and find meaning and purpose in life again, you can begin to heal from this challenging experience.

Importance of a Fort Worth Divorce Attorney

Once you have decided to leave your marriage, you should always consult with a divorce attorney and seek legal representation. Often, a toxic spouse will employ an aggressive attorney to pursue assets in retaliation for a divorce, and you will need to ensure you employ a strong attorney, one that will protect your rights and fight on your behalf.

Your Fort Worth divorce attorney should be skilled in mediation and litigation and should be prepared to do whatever is necessary to help you move into a bright new future with as little friction and conflict as possible.

Youngblood Law, PLLC – a Divorce Lawyer Fort Worth Reccomends. 

Here at Youngblood Law, PLLC, we are proud of our reputation for fierce advocacy when our clients need us. We understand the difficulties of leaving a toxic marriage, and we are prepared to offer the support you need, both emotionally and legally.

We can help you file protective orders if necessary, and we will ensure that your toxic spouse does not manipulate you. We will mediate in any discussions, fighting for amicable agreements that allow you to exit your marriage quickly and easily.

Where that is not possible, we will litigate on your behalf in court, ensuring the Judge is aware of the toxic traits and behaviors your spouse has been exhibiting.

If you need help putting a toxic marriage to bed, contact a Fort Worth divorce lawyer from Youngblood Law today at 817-369-3970.

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