A toxic person is not a good spouse. A toxic person makes a mess of what a good marriage should look like. You cannot please a toxic person. You cannot have decent discussions with them. You cannot make a toxic person understand your own point of view.
If you are married to a toxic person, I pity you. You are in hell on earth and being quarantined with such a human being is punishment. It’s not a good place to be no matter who you are and how much you try to make your marriage work.
Many times, you hear about toxic spouses and hear what it’s like to be in a relationship with a toxic person. But sometimes, it’s necessary to turn the mirror on yourself and do a self check to be sure that you are not the ones inflicting emotional harm on the person you claim to love.
First of all, who is a toxic spouse? A toxic spouse doesn’t allow you to communicate your feelings, needs, and perspectives. And, in the rare instance that you are allowed to state your dissatisfaction, their voice seeks to overpower yours. Your toxic spouse may belittle, dismiss or scoff at any fair attempt of you trying to express yourself.
A toxic spouse is also controlling. They control your day to day activities as well as what you. Where you go, how you dress, how you speak and who you speak to are dictated by your spouse and not based on your own desires. You also make your daily decisions with the intention of dodging a negative reaction from your spouse.
If you are married to a toxic spouse, compromise is an infrequent visitor in your home. You feel like you have minimal pull in all major decisions, because your spouse’s actions and words convey that their preferences and priorities supersede yours—from the art and furniture that fills your home, to how and when you will be intimate. The window of compromise is seldom cracked, and any time you invite it into the conversation, it’s treated like an unwelcome stranger.
It is important that couples be truthful to themselves and recognize who is toxic in their marriage. The first step in doing this is recognizing that there is a problem and making efforts to solve them. Here are some signs that you may be the toxic person in your marriage so you need to change for the better.
You play the blame game. Toxic people typically take their frustrations out on the people closest to them, which is usually their spouses. They have a habit of blaming them for everything that goes wrong under the sun even things that they have nothing to do with. Even the silence of their spouses when they are angry and ranting is a problem too.
Toxic people always criticize their spouses. People who are always examining their partner through a critical lens are like a cancer to any relationship. No one wants to be criticized constantly, nor should they be. If you verbalize those criticisms, you are eating at your partner’s self-esteem with every remark. Whether intentional or not, it’s problematic. No one wants to be married to a critical spouse who is hard to please.
If you always have to be in control of everything that happens in your marriage, you are a toxic spouse. Healthy relationships don’t have skewed power dynamics. Partners view each other as equal. When one party seeks to maintain control at all times, you are exhibiting a strong lack of trust and an attempt to make your partner dependent on you.
A lot of Nigerian men do this. They love controlling their wives as if these women are little children to be told what to do all the time. You control how your wife makes her hair, how she dresses, who she befriends, who she calls or who should call her and who she should stay away from. This is not healthy for your marriage. An adult shouldn’t be controlled by another adult because she’s not a slave.
Toxic spouses play mind games a lot. They mess with their spouse’s head so much that they begin to doubt themselves. Stable partners don’t play games with their spouse’s feelings. They are direct about what they want and respect their partner’s wishes when they relay their desires, rather than attempt to manipulate them into doing or saying whatever it is that they want.
If you are a toxic person, you feel it’s your right to teach your spouse a lesson whenever you feel they have done something wrong. It’s not your job to parent our spouse. If at any point you feel like you need to punish or teach your spouse a lesson, it’s probably time for some soul searching. Nothing is wrong with addressing behavior and establishing boundaries, but instilling punishment is something totally different. It is pure toxicity.
Downplaying the emotions of your spouse is a sign that you are toxic. Are you quick to tell your spouse things such as “It’s not that serious” or “You’ll be alright” when they share their emotions and concerns with you? If so, it’s time to stop hurting your spouse and change.
You won’t like it if they do the same thing to you, so stop dismissing their hurts and displeasures over your attitude. Even if you don’t understand what your spouse is dealing with or you believe they may be misunderstanding you, it’s your job to provide emotional support and not shrug off their feelings or make them feel irrelevant.
Yelling during every disagreement with your spouse is not healthy for your marriage. We all get worked up from time to time, but it’s abnormal to resort to yelling any time there is a disagreement or calling your spouse unprintable names. You should know that communication is the core of a relationship, but it’s not just about what you say but also how you say it that counts.
Toxic spouses are good manipulators. They always want to have their way and they manipulate their spouses to get what they want. It is okay to be upset sometimes, but relationships are about compromise. Things are not going to look the way you want them to look at all times and crying all the time that they don’t just to get your way is a form of manipulation. That’s toxic behavior.
If you are a toxic spouse, nothing is ever your fault. You don’t take responsibility for your actions. You blame your spouse for lying to them, cheating on them, raising your voice and making wrong decisions. No one is right all of the time. Spouses make mistakes and they owe it to their loved ones to own those mistakes. When you fail to be accountable for our actions, you damage your marriage sometimes beyond repair.
You are a toxic spouse if always you shut down when it is time to have uncomfortable discussions. Part of being in a healthy marriage is working through rough patches and having difficult conversations. If you have a habit of shutting down and stonewalling your spouse when these moments arise, you are probably the toxic one in your relationship. And you need to change.
This is the time for couples to confront the challenges facing their marriages and solve them before the lockdown is lifted and we all go back to the daily hustle and bustle of making money and trying to pay bills. Stop treating your spouse badly, change for the better. You will thank your stars for it in the future.
Re: How to stop resentment from destroying your marriage
Dear Kate, thanks for the digest. For couples to avoid resentment, they should take care of the reasons behind some reactions. Some women nag because they are menstruating. Some refuse to assist because there’s bad market. Understanding is the ultimate thing in marriages.
-Cletus Frenchman, Enugu
Kate, I read about your article on resentment but you forgot to make mention of other causes of resentment in marriages like men who have short sperm count and the ones who don’t sexually satisfy their wives as well as family interferences and spiritual attacks.
You talked about a very important topic because I have seen couples resent one another that I begin to fear what they might do to one another. As a church marriage counsellor, I always advice couples to talk about their feelings even if it’s not to their spouses but to counsellors. The more couples bottle their emotions, the more they resent their spouses. May God continue to give you wisdom to educate your readers well.
-Mrs. Funke Adeyemi, Lagos
What you said in your column is the truth. However, couples who feel that they are no longer compatible should immediately go their separate ways to avoid fatal consequences.
Kate, no matter how much you want to paint it, resentment is of the devil. No true child of God resents their spouse no matter what their spouse does to them. They forgive ahead because that is what God commanded us to do. The problem is that women no longer want to be build their homes like our grandmothers did because of evil feminists like you. You are teaching them that they are equal with men which is wrong. Any woman who resents her husband who is her Lord deserves to sent back to her father house. She’s a disgrace to womanhood. Take note and stop writing against what the scriptures command before God sends His judgment on you.
-Mr. Ben Olowo
I have been reading your column for months and I admire the way you deal with issues even though you tend to speak in favor of women more. I won’t blame you though, this society has been unfair to women for decades but that doesn’t make women saints either. You should always try to balance your articles so that you won’t lose your readers. You write well, I will give it to you. Keep up the good work.