Some kids grow up in a perfect happy home. I grew up watching my mother’s boyfriend treat her like garbage. He was rude and grouchy to her and to us. Their relationship went from one extreme to the other, screaming matches or the silent treatment. Luckily, eventually my Mom realized her own self worth and kicked his ass out after nine years of torment.
So naturally, when I was 15 years old I decided (subconsciously of course) to repeat the same behaviour patterns. My first real relationship started with jealousy, possessiveness and obsession. Great starting point! I had a thing about wanting to change and fix people… Gee, I wonder why? During the seven years before we got married, I knew in my heart and soul things were bad; why else would we have broken up three times? However, we had a daughter and I wanted for her what I didn’t have: a mom and a dad together and happy. “If we got married, things might change?” said My 22-year-old self, but she knew the answer on the inside. You can’t change a person.
Fast forward to now. I am 34 , separated from my first husband and in the happiest relationship I could even imagine. Looking back, I often think about the toxic behaviours both my ex-husband and I had displayed throughout our marriage. For the longest time, I didn’t want to accept being a “failure” in my marriage. I hid most of the lies I was living and smiled anyway. My social media feed was a picturesque, perfect family. On the inside, my husband and I were both tormented and really didn’t even like each other.
Learn from my mistakes and choose yourself over anything else.
Signs you are in a toxic marriage and it is time to walk away (or get serious help…):
- You dread going home, or your partner coming home. I used to make every stop possible before landing home to limit the time I would have to spend in my unhappy life.
- Attention from others feels good. A lack of affection and appreciation is a bad combination and can leave you vulnerable to wanting to get it elsewhere.
- Lack of mutual respect. This can come in many forms. Making fun of your interests, not “helping ” with household chores, threatening you, not considering your feelings.
- Bullying. A bully never takes responsibility for their actions, and then turns things around and somehow ends up making you feel like you have done something wrong.
- Feeling rage or hatred (even during disagreement). Disagreements are a part of any relationship, but feeling rage or hatred towards your partner instead of wanting to work together towards a solution in not healthy. This comes part and parcel with bullying and lack of mutual respect.
- Lack of interest in intimacy. Not only sex, but being close and cuddling, kissing and hugging. Not going to bed together and sharing a moment before you fall asleep.
- Embarrassed of your partners actions. You should be proud of the person who you are spending your life with, not ashamed.
- Fantasying about another life. This could mean being single, being with another person, or simply thinking what if my partner was the person I want them to be
- Lack of healthy communication. Fighting or the silent treatment. Yelling at all is not healthy!
- Jealousy. Being controlled, limited who you speak to, snooping on each other’s phones or social media. Not a good look.
- Feeling of emptiness when you look at your spouse.
Marriage is a two-way street, but the bottom line is you really have to like your partner before you can love them. A healthy relationship must start with mutual respect, empathy and attraction.
Sometimes, our values change or we become more aware of our own self-worth. Having enough self-love to identify when walking away is the best course of action takes courage.
It’s never too late to put yourself first. Love yourself and the rest will follow.