Toxic Marriages

A happy, fulfilling, romantic relationship is something many people desire and attempt to bring into their lives. A marriage in particular is an important relationship most people work very hard to protect. If both partners are committed, put forth effort, and are reasonably balanced emotionally, a successful union is definitely within reach. However, there are certain dynamics that might exist within a marriage or other intimate relationship that make a healthy union very unlikely. When certain behavior patterns cause destruction and emotional pain for one or both partners, the relationship becomes a toxic one. Here are 4 signs that your relationship is toxic:

1. There is abuse in the relationship. This may be physical or emotional abuse, and both are very damaging. If you are living with or fear the threat of physical abuse, this is a very dangerous situation. Physical abuse often escalates over time, and it is important to contact a domestic violence shelter or counselor specializing in this particular issue for specific help. There is an increased risk for harm at the time of leaving a physically abusive relationship, and it is important to create an appropriate safety plan for getting out. Emotional abuse is a pattern of criticism, punishment, and controlling behavior that causes emotional damage to the victim, and increases feelings of inferiority, incompetence, and is crazy making for the victimized partner.

2. Your husband or partner is actively abusing drugs and alcohol, and refuses to accept help or treatment for the problem. This is a very difficult situation, but the truth is that your partner is putting you and your needs in the relationship as a lower priority than achieving the next high or drink. The influence of an addictive use of substances makes it very difficult for your partner to be fully present and giving in the relationship. It can become a trap to be caught up in managing the various crises that come about in your partner’s life as a result of the substance abuse, and neglecting your own needs. Your husband or partner’s potential financial and/or legal problems resulting from the addiction can cause you serious issues as well. Your safety may even be put at risk if, for example, you get in a car with your partner after he or she has been drinking.

3. There is repeated adultery or affairs in your marriage or relationship. An affair can become a catalyst for better communication and accountability between partners and strengthen the relationship, provided both partners recommit and do not continue the adulterous behaviors. However, if the betrayals continue, there is no real foundation to rebuild trust or intimacy. In addition to the emotional pain of the betrayed spouse, there is the risk of physical illness and even death if you are intimate with someone who is not monogamous with you.

4. Your husband or partner has a personality disorder, like narcissism or sociopathy. These disorders have a specific set of symptoms, but the results can be similar for the non-disordered partner ? bewilderment, confusion, and hurt over the destructive actions of your partner. Unfortunately, there is little in the way of effective treatments for these disorders at this time, and the disordered partner rarely acknowledges that there is a problem to begin with. This makes the prospect for change very small.

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