While I cannot say that my marriage is perfect, I know my husband and I have tried to perfect it over the years. That doesn’t mean getting things right all the time but it is striving to do right all the time. And, I’ll be honest, it is tough.
Last week we had a huge fight where I cried in front of complete strangers while we were out strolling through town. If you know me, I like to cry in private and control my emotions sharing my weakest points to only a few people.
To cry in front of these people meant I was at a pretty big breaking point. Thank goodness I have a wonderful husband who loves and cherishes me. Any time we have an issue he is always there trying to figure it out which I love most about it. He never gives up even when it gets hard.
But just because I have a good marriage doesn’t mean I don’t have other relationships in my life that are challenging and (dare I say it) TOXIC!
Finding My Most Toxic Relationship
This last year was rough for me and my family. Sitting on bed-rest for 18 weeks, bleeding for over 20 weeks, delivering a baby 9 weeks early, spending 6 weeks in the NICU and working through all of that was not the highlight of my year. BUT, what it did do was expose some really important, valuable people in my life as well as people who may not have had my best interest at heart.
Surprisingly, my mother was one of those that I struggled with the most. She is not the loving, caring mother that I think most people imagine when they think of the word “motherly”. Nah, not my mom and never has been. She is more “rough around the edges” and often my friends would
say they were scared of her. Now, don’t get me wrong, my mother LOVED us and I never felt a lack of love but I did feel a lack of care sometimes. At the time, I didn’t get it and sometimes I still don’t. I try not to dwell on the past but….
“if I don’t address the issues I am never going to heal”
So what did I do?
I took a break and so did my kids. I gave her some guidelines (boundaries) before we could see each other again. Thankfully, I have a mother that is similar to my husband. She hasn’t given up on my or our relationship, even when it gets hard. She will even do some things that make her uncomfortable (therapy) to help us fix our problems.
Identifying Toxic Relationships
It took me nearly 30 years to realize that my relationship with my mom was not good, actually it was really toxic. And I wish I would have known was to identify why it was bad and how to better handle it. Here are just a few ways to know if you are in a toxic relationship.
- Lack of trust – this could mean anything from calling you non-stop, checking your social media and even not believing what you say
- Tearing you down, not building you up – using abusive language or not supporting you
- Control – Andrea Bonior PhD, author of The Friendship Fix told Health.com “This doesn’t always mean physically threatening or violent”. Control can simply mean walking on egg-shells.
- Playing the blame game – you can never do anything right or making you feel unworthy
- No give and take – relationships should be partnerships meaning splitting responsibilities, even in friendships
- Punitive – you are often punished for any type behavior without any feedback, sometimes you can be called “too sensitive
A good gut check is:
“If it doesn’t feel right, then it probably is wrong”
How to Handle Toxic Relationships
Identifying toxic relationship often is easy, knowing how to handle them is sometimes more challenging. Here are 4 of the most helpful tips I’ve learned to manage toxic relationships:
- Manage your emotions – don’t get to worked-up but also show that you care, it s a fine balance
- Take a break – best advice from my Psychologist friend, “if it is getting too heated, set a time to come back to the conversation – 5 minutes, 30 minutes, maybe even the next day”
- Set clear boundaries – some of the hardest things I have had to implement but here are some ideas of what boundaries to set
- Be honest with yourself – as Christine Carter says “acceptance is always the best choice”, don’t hide the truth even if it is painful
- Talk about it – I found that friends but even more so a therapist helped me heal from the hurt of my toxic relationship
Even though I am not a licensed therapist or have credentials in the psychology world, I have suffered like so many people. Relationships are hard, some harder than others. Knowing these tools can hopefully help you find more health and sanity in your many relationships helping you to live a life less toxic!