How Toxic People Can Harm Your Marriage
Toxic people can do major damage to your marriage.
We all can think of at least 3 people in our lives that have caused us more harm than good and for some reason we keep putting up with their behaviors. It’s not that the whole person is toxic. Rather, their behavior is toxic or your relationship with the person is toxic. Many toxic people will use you to make themselves feel better and most likely don't know how to love and treat others. Toxic people often have a lot of hurt and pain in their own lives, and their unhappiness just seeps into every relationship they have.
Let me tell you about someone near and dear to us who was very toxic to our marriage so it will give you an idea of what we've experienced first hand.
We consider a family friend of ours a very "toxic" person; maybe even a narcissist. He only talks about himself, never asking questions about our kids, our jobs and what we do for fun. Somehow every story gets interrupted by him and he never validates our feelings and opinions. He rarely shows up to family events, but when he does, he brings a lot of negative energy that you can just sense. There was a time when he called my very pregnant cousin a B*^%$ all because he lost a friendly game of poker.
I can't remember a time when life didn't revolve around him, his needs and his stories. Every time Casey and I would walk away feeling drained, frustrated, irritated, and even angry because of his behavior and it started taking a toll in our marriage. I personally tried reaching out to this sibling but left our lunch meeting feeling even more drained that ever before and it hit me. He might never change and I won't be the person to show him how he makes others feel. So about two years ago, we thought long and hard and chose to not have him apart of our lives in this season of life. And it was the hardest and best decision we've made. We don't wish him any harm, and in fact, we want him to thrive and enjoy life to the fullest. He's a blood relative for goodness sake and we love him. But we had to come to the conclusion that being around him brought our marriage down and it was time to start guarding our marriage.
Maybe you're like us and you have a sibling that seems to be toxic to your life. Maybe it's a co-worker, a friend, a neighbor, a mother or father, or maybe it's your in-laws!
Here are a few examples of toxic people and typical behaviors:
We all have been guilty of telling white lies at one time or another, but there are people on this planet that lie all day long about the big and small things. They end up having to cover over the lies over and over again and often times they can't even remember what the truth looks like. These liars are dishonest, cause you confusion, and cannot be trusted, no matter how many times they tell you, "I promise, I'm telling you the truth."
These people that gossip often are people who are talking about you behind your back. Gossips have no real friendships bc they speak so poorly about everyone in their lives. They also like drama and prefer to add to the dramatics. Often times a person who gossips has very low self esteem and so they talk bad about others to make themselves feel better. If the gossip is talking bad about other people to you, chances are they are talking bad about you to others.
Ups and Downs
We often say that when you feel like you're walking on eggs shells around these people, they are bi-polar or have similar characteristics of someone diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. Their highs are amazing and the world is a happy place. But their lows are dark and deep and the world is coming to an end. It's really challenging to be in a relationship with people whom you must walk on eggs shells with every time you see them. One mistake and they blow up! One "wrong" thing said, and the day is ruined. They can make you feel like nothing you say and do is right.
This person could be classified as the Debbie Downer. They can always find something to complain about. They don't look at the glass half full, heck they look at an empty glass 24/7. Their minds focus so much on the weaknesses and mistakes of others that it consumes their heart and soul. No matter how happy everyone is around them, they can still find something to complain about.
The topper likes to make sure everyone knows that he/she has been there, done that, seen this, accomplished that and even better than you. These toppers do not validate feelings and emotions you will share with them. Many times toppers are insecure and use it as a way of making themselves feel better by proving to you that they're amazing!
People who need constant praise, affirmation, love, attention can be extremely draining. This is a person who takes it personally if you don't call them every day or invite them to every gathering you have. Conversations tend to always be about them and what they've accomplished because they thrive on wanting to find security and they put their own insecurities onto everyone else.
So what do we do with these toxic people that are apart of our lives? We believe we all have 3 options:
First.. and really this is for every person in your life that's draining:
Put up healthy boundaries!
If you know someone has toxic behaviors, then limit how much time you spend with them. If they are not safe people, be careful with how much personal information you tell them. Remember that any person who drains you often, or you feel limits you from being a better person, should only be around you and your family every once in awhile.
Confront the person about the specific behavior they show around you.
You have to be very careful with how you approach him or her. You never want to come across judgmental and many times toxic people can put up walls to protect themselves from being hurt. A good way is to say the "When you ... I feel ..." statements. For example, "When you have a really bad day, it makes me feel like I'm walking on egg shells,which makes me feel nervous and anxious to be around you."
Sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures.
You might need to consider cutting them out from your life for a season. You can love the person, but you do not have to put up with their behaviors, especially if it effects your marriage and family in a negative way. This sounds harsh, we know, but we've had to go through this personally and it was the hardest but best decision we made for our marriage. Guard your marriage with everything you've got, even if it means getting rid of a toxic person.
Take a few minutes and write down a couple people in your life that drain you or keep you from growing. Ask yourself these questions:
- Does this person encourage me to be a better person?
- Does this person build me up or tear me down?
- When I'm around this person, I usually feel ______ ?
- Is this person making me a better spouse?
If you don't like the answers to the questions, then its time to start thinking about your relationship with these people and create healthy boundaries. We know its scary to confront and change things around in relationships, but your marriage is the most important relationship you're ever going to have on earth so do what is necessary for your marriage to thrive.
If you desire a healthy marriage, we encourage you to sign up for a FREE 7 day trial to NAKED CONVERSATIONS and join the thousands of couples experiencing a safe place to connect and grow in their relationship.
Written by Meygan Caston
Meygan Caston is the co-founder of Marriage365 and lives in sunny Southern California with her husband Casey, their two children and dog Hobie. She loves her family, the beach, writing, spa days and helping couples connect in their marriage. Her life long dream is to live with the Amish for a month, walk the Camino and have lunch with Brené Brown.