Nobody enjoys living in a toxic marriage, do they? A couple in a toxic marriage may love their partner or spouse and find it difficult to leave them even though the relationship is toxic. Other couples may want to stand by their vows. But the experience of staying in a toxic marriage for the rest of time without changing anything will be soul destroying, exhausting, devastating and unhealthy for your health and wellbeing but not just for you, but also for your spouse.
So it’s hardly surprising when many people find themselves asking the question; can a toxic marriage ever be saved?
Toxic marriages can be saved
It is possible to save a toxic marriage, and they can also be worth saving but not without a lot of effort and commitment from both spouses!
The amount of efforts required to save a toxic marriage is huge but, if you’ve decided that your marriage is worth saving then it’s definitely worthwhile.
Which leads us to the next point – not all toxic marriages should be saved.
When a toxic marriage shouldn’t be saved
There are a number of conditions or examples of a toxic marriage that will either require you to leave for your own safety or for the safety of your children.
And there will also be toxic marriages that you might need to leave for your sanity.
The final reason why a toxic marriage shouldn’t be saved is if both spouses are not all in on the efforts required to turn their toxic marriage into a healthy, loving and securely attached marriage then it won’t work either.
It’s going to require the commitment of both spouses to get this job done!
Here are a few examples of when a toxic marriage shouldn’t be saved;
- If you are in physical danger.
- If you are afraid that you might cause physical harm upon your spouse.
- If your spouse does not want to change.
- If your toxic marriage is hurting your children physically.
- If your conflict is hurting your children emotionally and you or your spouse don’t want to make the necessary changes.
- If you are questioning your sanity because of your toxic marriage.
- If you or your spouse have decided that you don’t want to fix the marriage and instead wish to leave.
If you are all good with these issues, then there is a chance that you could begin to save your toxic marriage. And if you are both committed to making the changes required, it’s entirely possible that your toxic marriage can be saved simply because most other issues have the potential to be handled. Even if you’ve experienced, anger, infidelity, contempt, frequent arguing, poor communication, grief, blame, hostility or a lack of love.
But to achieve this it means forgiving, letting go, reconciling the past, talking about issues, learning how to communicate and how to handle conflict and also learning how to respect and love each other, even when tempers flare.
Sometimes one spouse needs to lead the way
In some situations, to save your toxic marriage it might be only one spouse who instigates the much-needed changes. And the instigating spouse may also need to be the one who holds the boundaries and leads the way inspiring the other spouse to follow.
So, if you are ready to save your toxic marriage it’s time to start stepping up and becoming the spouse you would be if you were in a healthy relationship. This means beginning to drop your contemptuous ways and toxic reactions even when it would be so easy not to.
This means that you’ll need to develop a couple of important skills right from the offset.
How to inspire the change in your toxic marriage
Step 1: Check in with yourself frequently before acting to prevent a negative reaction
It takes effort and practice to stop and think before you react, not to mention self-restraint! But if you work on this consistently, you’ll be surprised at how fast your mind and physiology support your decision to change your reactions.
Sure, at first when your spouse triggers your toxic reactions it will be extremely difficult not to react (and we acknowledge this is the most challenging part of this strategy) but, even if you slow yourself down for one second, and take a slightly different response, then you are beginning to train your reactions to better ways.
Your efforts will be rewarded and your actions won’t be lost on your spouse, even the smallest ones.
Your spouse might find themselves intrigued, or even grateful that you prevented their toxic behavior from escalating.
If you imagine getting better and better at this strategy and how even the smallest change in your response can create a huge difference you can begin to see how this approach to helping you to save your toxic marriage is vital and incredibly powerful.
Step 2: Concentrate on being the best version of you
Despite your strongest resolve, your spouse will trigger you, and you might still trigger them – especially if there is a lot of water under the bridge in your relationship.
But, if you focus solely on being the best version of you – even if you don’t feel that you’ve ever experienced that version of you.
This approach will help you to reduce your toxic behavior and take the high road when you experience your spouse’s toxic behavior. It will support you with your first strategy (to change your responses) and can be extremely powerful in causing your spouse to want to be the best version of themselves too (even if they don’t even realize what they are doing!).
If you have decided that your toxic marriage is one that can be saved, and is worth saving, then all you need to do to get started on your road to recovery is to follow these steps, to begin with. And if you can teach them to your spouse, in no time at all, you’ll have turned a positive corner in your marriage.
In some marriages, the strategies above might be all you need to turn your marriage from toxic to healthy. And in others, there may be underlying issues that you’ll need to address. Such matters could stem either from childhood or from your relationship that needs to be worked through. There is plenty of advice to be found online and on our site to help you with that, and this is also the point where you might consider working with a marriage counselor to help you heal the past and give you more opportunity to enjoy the best of each other for years to come.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.