The Monster In Your Bed: Living With A Toxic Spouse Or Partner

emotional release emotional strength leaving a toxic relationship manipulative partner/spouse staying in a toxic relationship support toxic behavior toxic people Aug 20, 2020

I don't remember being scared of the monster under the bed when I was little, but I definitely keep my closet door closed now (you know, because of the closet monster). 

As children, monsters hide and creep out of the darkness when we're at our most vulnerable. As adults, we know they don't always hide or come out only at night. 

For many of my clients, the most toxic person in their life is their partner or spouse. The person you most want to trust and support you is the very one who belittles you and tears you down. This is incredibly difficult. I watched my own parents have this type of relationship the entire time I lived at home. So, I speak from experience when I say watching this as an empathic child was every bit as painful for me as it was for my mother to endure my father's criticism.

If you're in a relationship where your spouse/partner is toxic, then you have a few options. 

1) Leave the relationship. 

For your friends and other family members, this may seem like the best option, but they aren't in your relationship and don't get to make this call for you. Before deciding to leave, I recommend counseling by a licensed professional to work out any communication issues or save the relationship if possible especially if children are involved. Unfortunately, many of my clients often state that their partner/spouse refuses to go to counseling with them. It takes two to save a relationship, and you can't make the other person take an interest if they won't. 

If you feel leaving is your best option, then you may want to make an exit plan. Consult a lawyer about separation/divorce, research housing, jobs, childcare options etc. so that you feel confident when it's finally time to make your exit. 

2) Stay in the relationship, but make some alterations. 

Leaving a toxic relationship is hard, but staying in one is the harder choice by far.  There are many reasons why you may choose to stay in your relationship. Some of the most common reasons are for the sake of your children, religious reasons, you still love your partner/spouse despite their toxic behavior, financial security, and you have no other place to go. A tactic of abusers is to cut you off from family and friends to ensure that you feel isolated enough to never leave. 

No matter the reason, if you choose to stay, then it will require a mindset and behavioral shift on your part. I know, it sucks. Why should you have to change? Well, it's because we can't force anyone else to change. We can only control our own behavior. 

If you're not getting support from your spouse about issues important to you such as your job, goals, or desires, then it's a good idea to seek support elsewhere. For example, join a business mastermind to validate your goals and work endeavors. You can start a book club, and turn to friends or trusted professionals for companionship and emotional support. Although it may not be your preference, your partner doesn't have to be the one to support you in all things especially if they're uninterested, incapable, or toxic. 

Sometimes, you have to be the flame keeper in your relationship especially if your partner isn't at your level mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. You can keep the dreams you have as a couple alive within you even if your partner isn't supportive. I recommend letting your partner know that they don't have to support you, but their criticism (be specific in detailing exactly what triggers you) isn't helpful to you. Make sure to let them know and remind them if necessary that specific things they say are hurtful instead of helpful. ***SPECIAL NOTE: If your partner is manipulative and intentionally hurtful, then this information provides them with specific information to target you and may make your situation worse. Decide to use this strategy at your discretion. 

Additional strategies for dealing with a toxic partner include:

1) Ignoring their comments

This will require you to have a strong sense of self-confidence to block out the noise of their toxicity. Inspirational author, Louise Hay, had a technique where mentally she would think the phrase "That may be true for you but not for me. I am (insert empowering belief or statement)" whenever she heard anyone speaking negatively to her. 

2) Deflection

When your partner/spouse is criticizing you, then it may be helpful to change the subject or distract them in some way. This may take the focus off of you and lessen the tension. 

Every romantic relationship has challenges. Years ago, I divorced my husband, and it was the best option for me. However, I still felt guilt and shame that I had to clear emotionally. I want you to know that you have options whether you choose to stay or leave. Either way, I can help you release emotional burdens related to your relationship. If you need help dealing with the effects of a toxic relationship, then please consider emotional coaching and release work. You can book a free consultation here. 


April Darley N.D. is an Emotional Strength Coach specializing in helping Empaths/HSP's feel better, and function better by releasing stress, anxiety, pain, and sabotaging behavior. Through the combination of coaching and emotional release techniques, you'll learn how to step into your own power, comfortably deal with life's challenges, and stay calm and balanced.  

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