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:
The Liar

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.”

The Gossip

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.

The Negative

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

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!

The Insecure

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.

Second… 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.”

Third...  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.

 

Marriage365 Challenge

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.

 

Next steps… 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.  Click here to learn more.

Tags:

30 thoughts

  • Tim

    What if your spouse is the toxic one? Ups and downs, the insecure and the negative all fit her personality. I do have two toddlers with this person. Should I move forward and buy a home with her or something else? Any advice will help as I asked God for help but still at a lost. We’ve been through extensive biblical groups to help marriage to no avail. Married 4 years.

    • Casey Caston

      Timothy, I’m sorry to hear about this. When your spouse has toxic behaviors, our first piece of advice is to talk with them about it. Let them know how it makes you feel when they say or act a certain way. Ask them if they recognize the behaviors. If they admit to it, encourage them to seek professional help with a counselor. If your spouse is in denial and can’t see the pain they are causing, then it’s time to go to a counselor together. This must be a marriage and family therapist. Not a friend, church group, mentor, life coach, etc. An MFT will give you the tools you both need to work through the toxic behavior. We also highly recommend a marriage boot camp we went to years ago that deals with toxic behaviors and much more. Here’s the link: http://marriagehelpcenters.com/
      Keep us posted

  • Vicki

    I’m with Tim, the other commenter here. My spouse is “The Negative” and we have friends who do not visit as often because they cannot tolerate the negativity. They’ve told me how they feel and feel badly that they don’t get to spend time with me. A counselor once told me he was ego-centric and self-indulgent. What do I do now? We’ve tried counseling, I’ve tried to talk with him about certain behaviors, our son has brought up his negative and explosive behaviors in a positive and healthy way – all results in – no change. 🙁

    • Casey Caston

      Vicki,
      Does your husband see his negativity as a bad thing? Do you think he sees how his negativity is affecting you and your friends and son? Why do you think he’s negative? Was he that way when you dated?

    • jessica

      I been feeling that my husband been seeing amy Estrada a girl I meat last year she was not happy a single woman with a doughter she told me her story how her baby father will sleep a round with a girl and sleep with her and know I feel that my husband as done it with her but that’s just a feeling I feel she left her toxic with us so much has happened that shouldn’t have I had dream feelings I cry ed but I have ask my husband and he said he will never do that with her she no good and he don’t want to catch anything but I keep having dreams and feeling it comes and go can someone tell me why I know I suppose to believe my husband than the toxic she left know she don’t want to be friend with me that what also make me think but I really don’t need friends like that

  • Cindy

    I love reading this! I can say I was in the same situation with my side of the family. Mostly my whole family lives in one big house and its my grandparents house. They are some what old fashion. So you got to watch what you say, and do. My grandmother is like the leader, especially in her marriage. My mom and aunts are all single. I’m the only granddaughter who is married( age19) I’m 26 years old now. I had a lot of ups and downs through out my marriage especially in the beginning since we were so young. I would get advice from my family and I believe that was a biggest mistake knowing the fact t hat no one in my family was married and the way my grandparents marriage was one person leading (my way or the highway). Its going to be 8 years being married to my high school sweetheart. Now I focus on My family and we do our own thing and it being that way is a thousand times better. My husband is in the military so we live in Washington state and I want this to be a permanent living for us. Knowing that our marriage is healthy and we don’t get any negative touch out here. when we were station back in our hometown it wasn’t really great because when my family would have gathering they always tend to find a problem with my husband “He doesn’t talk” “oh he said this” he is rude” etc….. So I don’t really like to visit as often or anyone visiting us. is that wrong? is being apart from them a bad thing?

    • Casey Caston

      Cindy… sounds a bit like my family too. Boundaries are about PROTECTING and PRIORITIZING your marriage. If they are constantly trying to tear down your marriage, rather than build, encourage, or support… it’s time to put up healthy boundaries. Sounds like in the past 8 years you’ve had the opportunity to create your specific and unique identity in your marriage relationship. Anyone, (family or friends) trying to pull that apart needs to have healthy distance, emotionally and sometimes physically.
      Meygan and I have had to do this with family members in the past. I actually had one member come up to me and tell me that Meygan spells divorce. Obviously we created a healthy distance in order to PROTECT what we were creating, especially in those early years (I was 23, Meygan was 21). That person now comes to family events, but with our identity secure, we know how to shut down any negative comments and discouragements. Hope this helps…

  • Chloe

    My mother can be toxic. She gives unwanted advice and makes harsh and rude comments. She can be mean. When confronted, she absolutely denies any wrongdoing and escalates the conflict by ignoring emails or hanging up the phone. She will lie and deny that she said something. She takes zero responsibility for these offensive behaviors, and accuses others of being crazy. My mother is an absolute know it all, and freely speaks HER opinions, but doesn’t allow others the same right.

    I’ve had to cut off contact with her because she is so frustrating to deal with!!!

    • Casey Caston

      Chloe… I’m sorry to hear about your mom. I’m in the same boat as you. The thing about boundaries is that you are protecting your marriage from others that will drain your batteries. You’re prioritizing your marriage and saving the best of you for the one that counts.

  • Ab

    I have to say that my husband’s parents can be toxic. My husband had some issues with infidelity, lying and hiding things and he actually left our daughter and I to live bsck with his parents in another state after I caught him and confronted him. His parents are not in any way encouraging him to work things out with me. I also have to throw in that I consider my sister also toxic. She has been talking to my mother-in-law on the phone, texting, talking on facebook. My sister is single and has confided in my husband before when she was going through a break up and also turned to my mother-in-law for advice. I choose to not be close to my in-laws since their son has done what he has done and not trying to make an effort. I truly don’t know what to do and can’t be close to my own sister. My husband said the only way we will work is if our daughter and I move to where he is, our daughter does not want to move. My sister will moving to the same state as they are in due to work. I am afraid she will continue a relationship and certain bond with his family. Anything I can do or should I do?

    • Ab

      I will also add that his parents have a history of dysfunction. His dad has had drug, alcohol and legal issues in the past and was not in his life the majority of his childhood. Both of his parents are on disability and are not working, he left our daughter and I in June and has not helped us financially (twice since he left). I’m afraid history with his family and he isnt changing. I’m also unsure why my sister is so drawn to his family and she is excited to go to CA and spend time with them from what she said. I’m very upset she has crossed that boundary.

  • Sunni

    It’s so difficult when it’s your mother who has these bipolar like cycles and a child I adopted who is techancially and biologically my nephew. And she dislikes my husband when she should praise him for stepping up and being not only a provider but a father to our son. I always fall victim to her, and it hurts. I jus want my idea of what a mother should be and she doesn’t meet that. It’s helping that I put absolutely no expectations of her actions…. She is her own person with things that in her life, and I’m an easy target for her to take out her frustration. But I’m tired of used and treated like that, and I’m standing my ground and not taking things personally that she says. I won’t let her have control over me and my family. I don’t look for praise in this situation, but I sure don’t look for any shit about my parenting the blessing of a child who needed me.

    • Casey Caston

      Sunni… Healthy boundaries are about protecting your marriage from outside forces. We’ve had our share of friends and family that have spoken negatively about what we are accomplishing. Your marriage is so more important than their feelings. Prioritize your marriage by drawing a line in the sand with that toxic behavior. We’ve done it before. I’ve noticed in my own life that I teach people how to treat me. When I finally stood up for myself, I was surprised how things changed in the relationship. Hold fast to your marriage. It means a ton to your kids and your husband!

  • Ashlee

    I love this blog. Makes me really think about the toxic people in my life. My husband was considering a divorce and one of the reasons was my sister. She always has to be right about everything and always brings people down. She always calls me stupid. She has called me worse names that I would not like to say. I hate conflict, but I know that something has to change. She is 20 years old, and has to go with my husband and I everywhere we go. If we need to go to the store, she wants to go. I don’t have the heart to tell her no, but that is what my husband wants. I need help with how to talk to her without her being really really mad at me. It is not healthy for our marriage at all.

    • Jennifer Nelson

      I am so sorry you are struggling like that with your sister. It’s hard when it’s family that is causing the issue and even harder when it’s a family member like a sister or brother. There is no exact way to tell you to handle this because each person is different and responds in different ways. The thought that came to my mind is “is it worth loosing the man you love?”
      If she is the one that is negative then she is going to get upset no matter what you do or say. People who are like this will always find a reason to be upset. We do Celebrate Recovery at our church and one point that gets made is that there are people who are addicted to problems. They don’t feel “normal” if they aren’t mad at someone or down about something. When you have someone like this you have to see that no matter what you do at some point she will not be happy either way.
      What is your marriage worth to you? She will learn to get over it the more boundaries you put. Your husband however, will start to see that her feelings come first for the most part and that it is more important than him and that is a tough thing to work through (though it can be done).
      Please sit back and analyze your priorities and work as a team to solve this issue.
      I will be praying for you because I know this is not easy.

  • nicole

    This is an interesting read and really hits home- I have a sibling that is extremely impulsive and narcissistic. She has divorced and remarried all in a matter of months. Her behavior is difficult for my husband and I and our kids…. Who she is very critical of. My parents just want to go on like nothing has happened because they fear making her mad. Ring to take what you have said and really think about it.

  • Mrs.k

    We are having this issue as we speak with our inlaws. I try to be conscious and try not to take things to personally but they find every way to tear us down. Nothing we do from, our parenting, to purchasing our first home without their “approval”. To me it seems like they want us to be begging for help all the time like my step mother in laws children do who are into drugs and drinking when my husband and I are making it just fine on our own. Backhanded compliments, calling when we haven’t been over for two weekends in a row, to even making comments recently about us getting a divorce, and my poor husband takes the brunt of it all and can’t seem to stand up for our relationship, and our family. My husband tells me all these things that they say and do and I’ve already broken down and told them how we feel and even though my husband didn’t back me up on it they still do these things. I’ve told them they are more than welcome to come to our home any time and when we invite them places they don’t show or they make up some excuse and I’m mentally and emotionally drained over all of this. Today they were supposed to come get our child and my husband asked them last night what time they were coming to get her (no response) called and texted this morning to find out the time response a picture of my mil on a couch. My father came over and I decide to go with him and my child and my phone died on the way and they called when they were on their way to pick her up not telling me a time so I could get her ready or anything. It’s my fault in a way because I should have called to have been sure but with two attempts to find out I was over it and wanted to spend time with my father and child. So now they are angry saying I do not like them and making my husband feel bad all because they didn’t give me an answer. I try and try to be nice but after all they do to us the degrading of my husband, how my child is spoiled, and how I’m a horrible mother I’ve had my fill. My husband always wants us to talk things out and we have but it never changes.. He just keeps pushing me.. If I choose to not be around people who put me down then I shouldn’t have to be family or not. I feel if he wants to see them he’s more than welcome but I don’t wish to. They drink heavily, smoke marijuana, and I don’t approve of being around that, my child being around that either… I wish my husband would just cut ties with them for awhile until things change. I don’t know how our talk tomorrow will go I’m sure I’m going to be under fire from both sides because my husband always does this but I cannot deal with the negativity and leaving their home everytime and crying. My husband doesn’t deserve to be treated the way they do him, we are good Christian people, we don’t drink or do drugs, and I’ve prayed and prayed about it and I’m just at a loss on how to handle it. This is really the only problem we ever have is when it comes to them.. Im considering counseling for myself to gain my confidence back and to figure out a way to cope with their negativity that’s rubbing off onto me and making me depressed and fearful in my marriage…

  • Melisa

    unfortunately for me and my husband the toxic person is his sister. thankfully she doesn’t live in the same state but holidays are horrible. Things always have to be her way and when she does something wrong and we have to fix it she complains to everyone and lies about how I’m a b****. Ughh

    • marla

      For me my husband’s sisters & niece have ganged up on me for the past couple years. My health has been bad & I have had been going through some things. So during this time they have been poisoning his mind & when he complains they add fuel & it has exploded. They have encouraged an affair & everyone including my kids new about it. When I am around they act loving but then I see the evil text msg or emails. It hurts so bad I can’t breath.

  • Daisy

    Well I’m glad I’m not the only one. My inlaws (the whole damn family) r the toxic ones, and through almost 20 years of emotional abuse, my hubby has realized that I’m not making it up. My MIL is a liar, topper, gossip, Debbie downer, but she will never reveal it until her world crashes (which doesn’t take much… Unless we don’t give her $$, etc). She has belittled me infront of my kids (12, 8 & 7), infront of her family and around really anyone who comes over while I’m there. She and her hub had my hubby when they were still kids, so of course we never hear the end of how hard it was and how much they sacrificed for their kids (4 in total)… But they didn’t raise their kids… Her mother did (another topper whose perfection can’t be matched). We live in a small hamlet where everyone is pretty much related, and there is nothing but liars, thieves, druggies and negative people around here. They do nothing but complain about life, how no one gives them a job (who would?) and cut anyone down who wants to do well or something important with their lives. We live beside the lake, so I don’t want to move… But…

  • Yolanda Benning

    I can truly identify! Sad thing, I had EVERYONE of those toxins in my life and marriage. I kept wondering why does it seem like my marriage is falling apart. Once I started eliminating these toxic people (keeping my distance, as well as my mouth shut about my marriage) things got better. Being able to sit down and talk to my husband about whatever is going on is less stressful. Great article!

  • Keating

    Love this! My mom is a very toxic human being so my husband and I have no relationship with her. I also just eliminated a toxic friend from my life because she was causing issues in my marriage. It’s so important to surround yourself with positive and supportive people!

  • Kylie Jones

    My parents are extremely toxic. They make comments about my husband. Who is absolutely wonderful. They ignore my daughter. But obsess over my son. Even calling him their boy.
    They have always favored my brother over me. And now they are doing it to my daughter. Sick.
    They have made comments about hoping I get sick so they get my son. Also calling me whore and slut to my kids. I am broken by them.

  • Cath

    The toxic person I really don’t want any more contact with is my sister in law. We moved 135miles to settle near my husband’s family and to tell you the truth I just want to go back because I can’t handle my sister in law’s gossip. She continually criticises her son’s partner in front of me, my husband, her son, her grandchildren and she seems to be driving a wedge between her son’s partner and her granddaughter. It drives me crazy. No one will tell her that it is unnacceptable to behave in this way. Every time I meet someone from her town they ask seem to know all my private business and my parent’s business! I am fuming. I am a very private person. On top of that she adds drama to every situation and it is stressing me out. What is worse – I have told my husband how I feel and he says I am the unreasonable one and he tells his sister things that I would prefer he didn’t such as divulging what we do with our money etc. Help!!

  • S

    My question is I have an anxiety disorder so I tend to try and keep to myself however my inlaws are super toxic and when push comes to shove my spouse thinks I need to be around them since that’s their parents and sister. How do you make them understand that they are not safe to be around with out making your spouse feel like they are stuck in the middle

  • JN

    What if my wife is all of the above and in denial about it, projects her own toxicities onto me, triangulates me with another lover and lies to me about it, convinces herself that I’m the one with the problem and in denial about it, posts about it on this page, anonymously, the day before reading me a rehearsed dumping speech designed to inflict maximum damage to my self-esteem, manipulating me into involuntarily producing toxic self-destructive behaviors towards others, causing them to question who really is the victim here.

    Eh, could just be a coincidence.

Leave a Reply