10 Tiny Signs You're The Toxic Spouse

All of your marriage problems may point back to you.

Woman standing, blank expression TRAVIS NESBITT | Unsplash

I've been a couples mediator for a long time ... long enough to know that partners usually point fingers at each other before they look at their behavior. If you think your partner is to blame for your relationship troubles, scroll through these 10 signs and ask yourself: Am I turning into the bad spouse? If so, take urgent action and start saving your marriage. Every day you're miserable is another day closer to divorce.


Here are 10 tiny signs you're the toxic spouse:

1. You have no humility

Instead of owning up to your flaws and admitting your role in the conflict, you blame your partner for everything, even your poor behavior: "Well, I wouldn't have to yell if you'd listen."

RELATED: If You Do These 6 Things, You're The Toxic One In Your Relationship

2. You're a bully

You bark, name-call, swear, throw your weight around, insult, intimidate your spouse and/or kids, threaten, and throw childish temper tantrums to get your way. If you aren't already an abuser, you're on your way. Here's a prediction: your kids won't talk to you when they grow up.


3. You're a doormat

Instead of making changes to improve your life, you play the victim. Like the spouse with no humility, you blame your partner for everything, downplaying the fact that you allowed him or her to treat you a certain way — once, twice, three times until it was a pattern in your relationship. You may say that you can't leave because you "love him/her too much," or you may say that you're trapped, perhaps because of the children — the same children, by the way, that you may have knowingly brought into a dysfunctional marriage. Children who now must endure an unhappy childhood with you and your spouse as role models.

4. You're deceptive

You lie about your whereabouts, who you're texting at midnight, or how much you spent on your shopping spree. You may be unfaithful or betray your partner's trust in any number of ways, whether emotional, intimate, or monetary.



RELATED: 5 Tiny Ways You're Selfish In Your Relationship (Without Realizing It)


5. You're an egomaniac

You're the classic know-it-all, and it's all about you and your needs. Anyone who doesn't agree with you is an idiot and you have no problem telling them so. You're smarter, more enlightened, better looking, harder working, and cooler than anyone else. You're also out to lunch and people don't enjoy your company.

6. You've physically let yourself go

This isn't just an appearance complaint. Gaining excessive weight, smoking, drinking too much, and being sedentary have serious health effects that can worry a partner. They also limit your activities and lifestyle, so that you and your spouse cannot live life to its fullest.

7. You have an untreated personality disorder, mental illness, or past trauma

Marriage is hard enough without these types of challenges. You have a responsibility to yourself, your spouse, and your kids to get professional help.

RELATED: 5 Sure-Fire Ways To Ruin Your Relationship


8. You withhold intimacy

Chances are, you had hot intimacy before or in the early days of marriage; however, now you're too tired, busy, distracted, or uninterested. Well, here's a question: Where do you expect your spouse to get it, if not from you? If you have relationship problems that are standing in the way of physical intimacy, deal with them. If not, stop rejecting your partner. It's mean.

9. You withhold affection

Numbers eight and nine are often part of their vicious little circle: "Why should I be intimate with you when you don't show me affection?" versus, "Why should I show you affection when you won't be intimate with me?" Wow, talk about a stupid contest ... and a sure-fire way to run a marriage into the ground. Let me suggest a way to break the stalemate: Start showing affection. It isn't rocket science. And don't say you're just "not the touchy-feely type." That's like bringing kids into the world and then saying you're just "not the parenting type." It isn't fair. Every relationship comes with expectations and obligations, and a spouse has a reasonable expectation to receive affection from his or her partner.



10. You're always negative

You find fault in everything. You interpret innocent, off-handed, or even well-meaning statements or gestures negatively, often overreacting or making conflict out of nothing. You are usually light on accuracy and understanding, and heavy on judgment and assumption. Like a bully, you may have a short fuse. And while you may not throw your weight around in the same belligerent or dangerous way, you nonetheless have a knack for making those around you walk on eggshells for fear of setting you off. You're the person that other people cross the street to avoid.


While this list isn't exhaustive, it does highlight some of the more problematic behaviors that many of us show in marriage, at least to some extent and from time to time. Nobody's perfect and marriages go through their ups and downs. Sometimes, however, the behavior sticks and worsens, and the marriage becomes a chronically miserable one. Life's too short for that, especially when help is available. 

Man up. Woman up. Own up. Stop putting others through the wringer by living with your entrenched egoism, negativity, short fuse, blame, whatever. Look in the mirror and get help. You owe it to the people you have brought into your life. Who knows? Instead of avoiding you, your spouse and kids may begin to admire, adore, and appreciate you. You may begin to enjoy all the benefits that marriage and family life have to offer. I guarantee that your life will be richer for it.

RELATED: 10 Signs You're The Problem In Your Relationship


Debra Macleod, B.A., LL.B. is an author and conflict specialist who offers a fast, focused, and no-nonsense alternative to couples counseling and ineffective marriage coaching systems.