Is your relationship draining you instead of fulfilling you? Are you feeling disconnected from your partner? Is your communication with your spouse more conflict-filled than kind? If so, your relationship could use a good detox. Toxicity in a relationship can take its toll on your mental and physical health so identifying and taking measures to turn behaviors from toxic to tonic is vital to your well-being and happiness.
What are some of the signs that you are in a toxic relationship?
You no longer look forward to your couple-time
Evenings and weekends are spent either arguing or avoiding each other. You stay late at work just so you don’t have to come home and face each other, and you fill your weekends with activities and errands that serve as buffers so you don’t have to address the deeper issues that are going on between you. There’s little or no affection between you, and you live more like roommates than a married couple.
You no longer “see” each other
You have the sense that your spouse doesn’t notice you or any efforts you make to bring warmth and affection back into the relationship. A new hairstyle or dress is not remarked upon. You work to put together a fantastic meal and he doesn’t acknowledge your efforts. He just inhales the food while watching the television. You feel invisible and taken for granted.
Physical and emotional distancing
The buildup of toxicity in your relationship is bound to lead to a lack of physical and emotional intimacy. It’s difficult to want to make love with someone with whom you are in continual conflict. You sense you are shutting down emotionally with him as well. Why share your thoughts and plans with someone who has a tendency to mock or denigrate them? With this distancing comes a temptation to find a partner with whom you feel a connection and a sense of being appreciated. Infidelity is likely to occur in a relationship that has become toxic.
Your discussions lead to nowhere
When you do manage to try and open up the conversation and address toxic issues, you meet with the same old responses. “You are always harping on me!”, or “I’m not going to change so you are just going to have to get used to it.” Things quickly escalate into name-calling, shouting, or someone stomping out of the room and refusing to engage.
You cannot communicate with each other in a respectful way and you no longer bother to try and work out the problems you are experiencing in your relationship. This results in stressful levels of repressed anger building up inside of you, with physical manifestations such as anxiety, headaches, intestinal distress and muscle aches forming. You seem to always be going to the doctor who can’t find anything physically wrong with you.
If these situations sound familiar, it’s time to start detoxing your relationship. Here are some tips to get rid of the toxic energy that has taken over your relationship and replace it with healthier ways of living and loving:
Start by taking a break
If it is realistic, begin the relationship detox process by taking a break from each other. It doesn’t have to be a long one, a weekend apart will do. The goal is for you to be in a place where you can focus on your own well-being and give some serious thought to what you would like to see happen to this relationship. Do you want to continue to invest in it? Are you willing to let go of old behaviors that may have been contributing to the toxic atmosphere? If yes, then:
Bring in the experts
Once a certain level of toxicity has come into your relationship, it will be very difficult to detox without the help of a trained couples’ counselor. This is especially important if you are at the point where your attempts to communicate only lead to arguments. A trained and neutral third party will help guide the detox process in a solution-oriented way.
Re-learn how to talk with each other
The therapist will provide you with the best tools to use with each other to encourage respectful and kind communication. This can include using “I” statements such as “I’m feeling underappreciated” rather than using finger-pointing statements such as “You make me feel underappreciated.”
Re-learn how to listen to each other
Another strategy to master that will help detox your relationship is the art of active listening. Allow your partner the chance to voice their issues, uninterrupted. Then mirror back your understanding of what they said. “It sounds like you feel invisible because I’m not noticing all that you do for our family” is an example of how to actively listen. It’s an incredibly validating way to discuss hot-button issues and keeps the conversation grounded.
Apologize, forgive and reboot
Couples who seek to detox their relationship recognize the need to take responsibility for their part in the toxic buildup. They own it and apologize for it. Both partners invest in the practice of forgiveness which allows them to move forward in a purer, more loving relationship. And lastly, they reboot their relationship each day by using the strategies they have learned to keep their detoxed relationship clean, healthy, and life-enhancing.