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2 signs that you have a toxic marriage
Are small issues in your marriage turning into toxic ones? - photo by Wendy Jessen
We've all encountered an issue that would have been an easy fix if we had resolved it from the beginning. However, left unchecked, these can become a major problem.

For example, if you had a small leak under your sink, you could fix it right away or call the plumber to fix it. If you just leave it leaking, however, you could end up with damaged walls, floorboards, and even toxic mold. Then, not only do you have to fix the leak, but you also have some pretty serious clean up and repairs to deal with to remedy the problem.

It's the same with marriage. Problems will arise, and often start out small, but left without correction, they can become a much larger issue that needs even greater attention. Here are two signs your marriage may be toxic.

1. You insult, blame or are judgmental toward each other

Despite the childhood saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," words do hurt. When you call each other names, blame rather than take responsibility, or make harsh judgments against each other, you are adding to the toxicity of your marriage. These behaviors lead to more anger and defensiveness, rather than working together with love and understanding.

2. Making a big deal out of something small

"You always ... " or "You never ... " statements can damage your relationship. Using absolutes is not fair and usually not truthful either. "Communication between couples at this level is emotionally loaded and is likely to lead to more reactivity through behaviors like escalation, invalidation, negative interpretation or withdrawal and avoidance," stated a Daily Times article.

What can you do instead?

Obviously, refrain from name-calling or put downs. You can't take your words back once you say them. If there's a problem in a marriage, both of you have some fault (most often), so instead of blaming, apologize even if your spouse doesn't and forgive often. Each of us is in our own process of changing, growing and learning to become our best selves. When correction is needed, do it gently and with love. Work out a plan together. You're on the same team.

Rather than letting a small issue escalate into a larger one, take time to think rationally and decide the best way to act. Attacking your spouse with hateful statements will put him or her on the defensive. Once that happens, coming to a resolution will be much more difficult, if not impossible. Be calm. Be loving. Be gentle.

Don't let a small issue become a toxic one. Most problems can be solved in a peaceful and loving manner. Marriage is not always easy; it takes work to have a happy and strong relationship. Work together while treating each other like equals and with love and respect.
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