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Signs You Might Be In A Toxic Marriage

Not every marriage is a fairy tale. Many marriages are functional but meh. Some marriages are fiery with passion. There is nothing wrong with an outside the norm marriage. What is concerning is a toxic marriage. This type of marriage can literally dim the light of its participants and bring constant heartache.

Being able to recognize the signs of a toxic marriage is often the first step toward getting the help you need, whether that be counseling or a divorce. If you think you may be in a toxic marriage, speak with the divorce and family law attorneys at The Ramos Law Group, PLLC, to discuss your options and see how our team can help you move forward.  

How to Know You’re in a Toxic Marriage

There is no definitive way to know when you are in a toxic marriage. However, there are certain signs you can keep an eye out for to better recognize when it may be time to consider ending your relationship. 

Here are some common signs that you may be in a toxic marriage.

Lack of Intimacy

Lack of intimacy is often one of the first signs to appear in a toxic relationship. While at first glance, a lack of intimacy may not seem like a sign of a toxic marriage, it can certainly be a red flag of potential problems to come. 

Intimacy is a critical part of romantic relationships. And when there is a lack of intimacy between partners—especially when intimacy is being purposefully withheld by one partner—this can lead to feelings of resentment, dissatisfaction, and rejection. Ultimately, this can be extremely damaging to any relationship.

Lack of Control (or Controlling Behavior)

In a healthy relationship, it’s important for both partners to have a sense of autonomy and feel like they each have a say in decisions about themselves and the relationship as a whole. However, where one partner’s controlling behavior results in the other partner feeling like they have no control, this can lead to an unhealthy dynamic.

A marriage may be toxic when one spouse lacks the autonomy to make everyday decisions, or in the alternative, when one spouse has all the control power. Many spouses have specific roles in their household but when only one spouse is “allowed” to make certain decisions or have control over certain areas that is when relationship experts become concerned. Whether the contention of control is regarding how a spouse dresses or what social activities can be attended, it can become an unhealthy dynamic.


Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person manipulates another person in the hopes of acquiring power of them. This tactical manipulation may cause the victim to question their own reality rather than questioning the actions or motives of the person gaslighting them. Gaslighting by one spouse in a toxic marriage might look like any of the following: 

  • Denying or minimizing the experiences of the other spouse,
  • Trying to change the narrative by manipulating facts or reinterpreting certain events to suit their own agenda,
  • Casting blame on the other spouse to make them feel guilty for valid issues they may raise, or
  • Making repeated attempts to undermine the other spouse’s self-esteem and erode their confidence and self-worth. 

Gaslighting allows a spouse to deflect inquiries about their own actions. You often see cheating spouses accuse their spouse of cheating to deflect from their own actions. Gaslighting is a twisted form of manipulation as it literally causes a person to second-guess their own beliefs and reality.

Lack of Boundaries

Some say a marriage has no boundaries, spouses share everything. But life itself requires boundaries. For example, a teacher often cannot take calls during school. If a toxic spouse is constantly texting and calling, that is a violation of a boundary. If you agree with your spouse you won’t discuss marital spats with family or friends but they do anyway, that’s a violation of a boundary. These types of violations may seem innocuous at first but can snowball into your spouse disregarding any sort of autonomy you may have.


The culture of the United States is very social. We love gatherings with family and friends. We value relationships. When one spouse intentionally attempts to isolate another from their family or friends, that is a huge red flag. Sure, some people have questionable friends, but oftentimes the isolation is an intentional attempt to control a spouse rather than looking out for their best interests. Spouses in toxic marriages often look around one day and realize they no longer have the same friendships and social circle they once did. They may now only interact with their spouse’s friends or no friends at all. The result of such isolation is limiting where a spouse can go for help or hide the fact a spouse is being toxic or abusive.

Repeating Patterns

A hallmark of a toxic marriage is when the toxic behavior never ends. Whether it is domestic violence or a violation of boundaries, the repetition of unhealthy behaviors will continue to mire the marriage in a toxic sludge. These patterns of toxic behavior are not self-correcting. The patterns will continue unchecked (and usually with several partners or spouses) until the person takes a hard look at their history and takes steps to correct it. Otherwise history is doomed to repeat itself.

Speak with a Texas Family Law Attorney Today

A toxic marriage does not necessarily mean a failed marriage that is destined for divorce. In some cases toxic relationships can be changed once the parties acknowledge their part in the unhealthy behavior exhibited and work to correct it. However it is too little, too late to be fixed, don’t be afraid to seek help and discuss your options moving forward. The experienced team of family law and divorce lawyers at the Ramos Law Group, PLLC are here and ready to help. Call us today at (713) 225-6200 to schedule a confidential consultation today.

Last Updated on August 11, 2023 by Mary E. Ramos

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Mary E. Ramos

Mary E. Ramos is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She is recognized and respected throughout the Houston legal community for dedication in effectively representing clients’ rights and interests. Mary understands the emotional side of divorce and brings a special compassion to each and every case.

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