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3 signs you're in a toxic marriage

Could you be in a toxic marriage?

In a toxic marriage, you aren't free to change and grow. If anything, you find yourself withering, being exhausted at the mere idea of enduring time with your spouse and feeling trapped.

Often, it's easier for outsiders to see just how toxic a marriage really is to their loved one. They can tell that the emotional garden your marriage is planting is full of weeds or poisonous plants, while you're focused on the one or two flowers that are managing to grow.

So, what signs can help you spot a toxic marriage? Here are a few:

1. Your spouse's jokes are covert critiques

Jokes should be funny for everyone. When your spouse "jokingly" makes fun of your weight, your work, your efforts at cooking and other things that matter to you, that's hurtful behavior -- yet, somehow, you're portrayed as the "bad guy" if you don't laugh.

What's really happening is that your spouse is killing your self-esteem, one "joke" at a time.

2. You're always watching your step

Most toxic relationships have their roots in one spouse's insecurities, so controlling behavior is quite common. If you feel like the boundaries of behavior in your relationship are always changing, you have to ask before you do anything and you constantly have to justify what you do and how you do it, that's no way to live. You aren't a child, and you shouldn't be treated like one.

3. You're the one burdened with all the responsibilities

Every marriage comes with some unspoken (or maybe clearly delegated) agreements. One person may do the majority of the indoor cleaning while the other does the yard work. One person may do the bills while the other does the grocery shopping. If you feel like the entire burden for keeping the household running falls on you, however, it may be time to reexamine why this is happening. It may be your spouse's way of keeping you too tired to do anything you enjoy.

If you've had enough of a toxic marriage and counseling hasn't helped, it may be time to think about getting a divorce and moving on with your life. There are better ways to live -- and love can't grow in a toxic environment.

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