Emotional blackmail and other toxic behaviors that can destroy your marriage

Marriage is a two-way street that requires communication and honesty. While many actions can destroy a marriage, like abuse or infidelity, other non-subtle behaviors are just as toxic and can also damage your marriage.

Sometimes these are just as dangerous because you don’t realize you’re doing them or that they’re being done to you. Let’s look at several toxic behaviors that can destroy your marriage if you’re not careful.

Being Controlling

Controlling behavior is not black and white. There are various levels of controlling behavior, some of which can be annoying but are not necessarily a marriage breaker.

If a spouse is constantly checking up on you, demanding a play-by-play of who you have talked to, or asking where you went when they weren’t around, that is controlling behavior.  When a spouse tells you what you should or shouldn’t wear, that is also being controlling.

Whether the control is overt or more subtle, it’s toxic behavior that has no part in a healthy marriage. If you see this type of behavior, it should be a red flag.

Jealous & Passive-Aggressive Behavior

If someone gives your spouse extra attention, you may become jealous, which is a normal emotion. But, when your spouse begins to check your text messages and emails when you’re sleeping or wanting to know every twist and turn of your life, that type of jealousy can become toxic quickly.

When that jealousy leads to passive-aggressive behavior, it can also take its toll on a marriage. If your spouse is going somewhere with friends and invites you, but you’re feeling a little jealous, you may just tell him you’ll stay home, although you want to go. This type of passive-aggressive behavior is not good for a marriage. Instead of accepting the invitation and being open-minded about the experience, you’ve chosen to shut down with a passive-aggressive response. If these patterns continue, they can ruin a marriage.

Emotional Blackmail

Any action that involves blackmail of any type isn’t healthy for a marriage. When we talk about emotional blackmail, we’re referring to when someone uses things, they know about you to manipulate you to do something. An example would be threatening a spouse that they’ll never see their kids if they divorce you. Your spouse obviously knows how much you love your kids, so they’re threatening to take them away to prevent you from filing for divorce.

Another example would be threatening to disclose a secret to a parent or relative to get your spouse to do something you want. While that type of emotional blackmail is obvious, there are also more subtle forms of it.

Emotional blackmail is manipulative, and something people do when they’re desperate to get you to do what they want. It’s very toxic for marriage and unhealthy for you emotionally.

Constant Negativity

Everyone has a bad day or a stretch when they feel blue. But then there are some people who are continually feeling negative and do nothing to get out of their rut. This type of behavior can push people away, especially a spouse.

Some people are naturally negative, which is hard to overcome. Someone who has a naturally negative outlook on life will have to work hard to change and focus daily on being more positive. Practicing mindfulness, exercising, eating healthy, and getting adequate rest can all be helpful on the path to positivity.

If your spouse has a negative personality, know that it is not your responsibility to help them feel better. You can certainly help, but in the end, your spouse needs to take responsibility to change the behavior, which can have a very harmful effect on your marriage.