The motivations compelling couples to consider divorce are wide and varied. However, one common motivator, is when individuals feel trapped in a toxic relationship. The term “toxic relationship” was coined in 1995 by Dr. Lillian Glass, and in contrast to physical abuse, the hallmark of a toxic relationship is an emotionally unhealthy environment, where one or both of the parties are plagued by a persistent feeling of unhappiness.
In comparison, healthy partners listen to each other, communicating respectfully and often. These couples build and uplift one another, supporting each other’s goals, desires, and dreams. Habits which, in turn, cultivate and strengthens trust, leading them to a deep sense of understanding, satisfaction, and happiness that can’t be found anywhere else.
Of course, none of which is to imply happy couples don’t fight. Because let’s be honest: to be married is almost, by definition, to have a sparing buddy at the ready. It is completely normal for stable couples to experience periods of life marked with anxiety, stress, and anger. But this unrest is usually temporary. In contrast, a toxic marriage is a relationship where negativity is the norm. One in which individuals:
- Don’t support each other;
- Seek out conflict;
- Undermine their partner;
- Engage in unhealthy competition;
- Disrespect their spouse;
- Lack cohesive unity; or
- Attempt to control one another.
In addition to these elements, things like physical abuse, and adultery, can, of course, contribute to an emotionally toxic environment. However, abusive relationships are generally seen as a situation where the perpetrator knows and is choosing to exact harm, whereas in a toxic relationship, on or both parties might not even be aware of what they’re doing.
This is what can make a toxic relationship so difficult to identify, especially since all toxic marriages present differently, and what’s toxic for you might not be so bad for your best friend or your mom. Below, are five signs that you’re in a toxic marriage – and if you recognize them, it may be time to talk to a Stockton divorce attorney. Not just for your own mental health, but also for the sake of any children you might have, who are looking up to you for an example of what kind of relationship they should aspire to.
5 Signs You’re in a Toxic Marriage
When trying to determine whether or not your relationship is toxic, here are five signs that can help you know whether it’s time to consider other options (such as divorce). They include:
- Persistent unhappiness;
- An inability to connect with your partner;
- Consistent fault finding;
- Fantasies about striking out on your own; and
- Family or friends who are expressing concerns.
If you’re always unhappy about your relationship, why are you still in it? Life should be better and happier with the person you’ve chosen to spend life with. If the joy you once felt in marriage has replaced by sadness, anger, anxiety, or resignation, it may be time to talk to an attorney about your options.
Respectful communication is one of the biggest keys to any successful relationship—romantic or otherwise. And it’s okay for these conversations to occasionally fizzle out between partners, but when it becomes worrisome, is when it doesn’t improve, despite repeated efforts. Especially if you feel like your partner has “checked out,” of the relationship. When couples are unable to resolve differences, and talk though problems with each other, it’s often a signal that they’re on the road to divorce.
Constant Fault Finding
No one is perfect, and if you look close enough at anyone, you’ll find fault with them. But there’s a big difference between occasionally getting after your spouse for not taking out the trash, and when finding fault is a way of life in your relationship. If you and your spouse are overly critical of one another, and resort to personal attacks during every argument, it might be time to start thinking objectively about your future together.
Fantasies about Striking Out on you Own
It’s normal for an overworked parent to think about how much easier things would be without family ties binding them down, but if escaping into your fantasy life of solitude is the only way you can get through the day, it may be a sign there’s something really wrong in your relationship. If you’ve made serious plans to leave, you should talk to an attorney about your options before doing anything. It’s especially important not to move out of your marital home (or throw out your partner) without consulting a lawyer first, as these actions can trigger adverse consequences during a divorce trial.
Family or Friends Express Concerns
There’s an age-old metaphor, which says you can’t boil a frog by putting it in hot water. Instead, you start with a pot of tepid liquid, and slowly turn up the heat. We have no idea why anyone would want to boil a frog alive, but like our amphibious friends, individuals who are in a toxic marriage, are usually the last to figure it out. That’s because humans are amazingly adaptable. We become so accustomed to the harmful environment, we no longer notice what’s all around us, which is a bad place to be. If your friends and family begin expressing concerns, it’s a sign that you’ve normalized an unhealthy relationship.
Do You Need to Talk to a Divorce Lawyer?
Often, even when individuals recognize their partnership isn’t healthy, they are still reluctant to initiate divorce, either because of time and cost, or worries about child custody and property division. Some even fear physical retribution from their spouse, and if this sounds like you, it’s important to note that there are many different types of divorce, including mediation, which can be quite cost effective. In addition, individuals can file for restraining orders at no cost, which is just one of many ways in which the State of California protects abuse victims.
If you’re thinking about getting a divorce, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney and learn about your options. The team at Maples Family Law are here to answer any questions you might have about spousal support, child custody, and the division of property. We may also be able to refer you to a therapist focusing on divorce issues and toxic relationships.
Call us at (209) 546-6246 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. Let us help figure out a solution to your toxic relationship.