Marriage is supposed to be one of the greatest parts of our lives, filled with joy, love, and admiration. But what happens when the honeymoon phase ends and you're left constantly feeling sad, frustrated, or conflicted? In many cases, this is a sign that something isn't right — and in many cases, the problem doesn't even lie with you.
Most people can spend years in an unhealthy marriage before they even begin to understand what is wrong. However, as you start to peel back the layers of your relationship, you may find that the person you married isn't good for you at all. In fact, they may be toxic or even abusive.
If that's the case, you need to learn how to divorce a toxic husband so you can get out and get your life back. Here's what you need to consider first:
Things to know
- If you're unsafe you'll need to get out of the situation as soon as you can. Ask a friend or professional to help.
- If you can, find a good lawyer who can put protective measures in place and get you a fair settlement in your divorce.
- Life after divorce will be difficult, but you've got to let go and live your life freely.
Let's explore this in more detail. Here's what we'll cover:
Signs Of A Toxic Husband
The word "toxic marriage" has become synonymous with any type of marital unhappiness. But does our dissatisfaction automatically equate to a toxic relationship? Well, not necessarily.
Typically, a toxic person behaves in a way that causes constant distress and emotional pain for those around them. They may do this through physical harm, known as domestic violence. However, they may also use their words to cause emotional pain to their loved ones and family members.
A toxic spouse is usually this way because of some sort of underlying cause of distress. They may live with an untreated personality disorder, or they may have grown up in a home filled with domestic abuse and other issues. In fact, your toxic husband's behaviors could be what they learned from one of their parents.
In other words, a toxic partner is the kind of spouse who makes you constantly feel on guard and bad about yourself. It isn't an isolated incident, nor is it something that happens suddenly. It is usually something that, looking back, you knew was there all along and escalated over time.
Not every unhappy marriage is toxic. Similarly, not every toxic partner engages in physical abuse. However, the following signs indicate a severe problem with your marriage:
1. You aren’t allowed to express your feelings
Do you feel you have to keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself most of the time? Is your spouse constantly belittling you or dismissing your emotions? This isn’t something that happens in healthy marriages.
When you and your partner have a healthy relationship, you both listen to and respect each other. Your opinions matter and hold value. If that’s not happening, then your emotional needs aren’t getting met — and that’s never okay.
2. Boundaries are ignored
Boundaries are a necessary part of any relationship, even happy marriages. Sometimes boundaries help you maintain your identity, whereas other times, they relate to rules at work or something a friend has confided in you about. Either way, when you make a request or tell your spouse “no,” they should respect that.
When a spouse purposely ignores your requests or puts their desires above your needs, then that’s an issue.
3. They keep secrets
Outside of the occasional birthday surprise, most partners don’t keep secrets from each other. Things like messages and phone calls at strange hours, unexpected charges on a shared credit card, or a newly opened bank account are all red flags, and they shouldn’t be ignored.
If you discover secrets and are met with defensiveness and no answers, that’s definitely not a good sign. In many cases, a toxic person will provide vague answers and try to place blame somewhere else when someone questions their intentions.
4. Your home is full of arguments and chaos
All couples disagree from time to time. However, a dysfunctional marriage is filled with constant arguments, and even small moments of disagreement quickly escalate into enormous fights. In some cases, these arguments may come along with over-the-top apologies and showers of praise but are then quickly met with conflict again.
This type of volatile home life is often a sign of emotional abuse. The longer it goes on, the worse it gets.
5. You’ve lost your ability to exist outside the relationship
Does your partner need to be involved in every decision you make? Do they get jealous when you make plans with friends? Do they try to snoop through your conversations? Do they control what you wear or who you spend time with?
If your spouse calls all the shots, then your marriage is definitely not healthy. Losing yourself in a relationship can impact your mental health and cause you to feel sad and hopeless, which is not suitable for your self-worth or happiness.
6. Your health is taking a hit
Unfortunately, spending any amount of time in an unhealthy relationship can take a toll on you. In fact, it can impact your physical and mental health, not to mention other aspects of your life.
For example, an unhealthy marriage often causes chronic stress. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and physical symptoms like back pain, migraines, or digestive issues. You may also lose sleep, neglect your self-care, and isolate yourself.
If you have children, the parental conflict between you and your partner can also impact your kids, ultimately affecting you. This is why toxic behavior shouldn't be tolerated — and you shouldn't have to live with it.
How To Divorce A Toxic Husband
Moving on from a toxic marriage isn't easy. However, there are things you can do to properly prepare and work your way out of the unhealthy relationship so you can eventually heal and find happiness again.
1. Get your affairs in order and get out
The first important step in any type of divorce is to get your affairs in order so you can get out. Obviously, the steps involved in this will vary based on the duration of your relationship, whether or not you have children and various other factors. However, there are some general strategies most people use when preparing for a divorce.
First and foremost, you'll need to secure your financial independence from your toxic spouse. This may mean you need to open your bank account or apply for your own credit card. It may also mean you must brush up on your resume and start applying for jobs that will provide you with a better income.
Next, you must ensure you have all the necessary documentation to file a divorce petition. These requirements vary based on your geographic location, but the more you can gather before you file, the better off you'll be.
Finally, you may also need to secure a place to stay or make other arrangements if you foresee a high-conflict divorce. Having all of these affairs in order will take time and some hard work on your part, but it will ultimately help you as you start the divorce process.
2. Find professional help
Unless you have a degree in family law, chances are you'll need to secure the necessary professional help to work through your divorce and protect you from sneaky divorce tactics. Uncontested divorces are possible, but they rarely happen in situations with a toxic partner trying to control everything. So, you'll need someone like a divorce attorney or divorce coach to assist you with all of the necessary steps for filing your divorce petition.
A divorce lawyer will be well versed in handling situations like yours and will guide you through every step of the process. They will ensure you get what is rightfully yours in the divorce without making it drag out forever. In fact, they may find ways to get your husband to settle through mediation or other steps that happen before the dispute goes to court.
Most divorce attorneys also provide a confidential consultation before taking on your case. This can help you decide if the attorney will be a good fit and help you get out of your abusive relationship. They will also guide you on topics like child custody or division of assets if needed.
3. Practice forgiveness, but don't back down
Although this separation process can be a challenging time, it doesn't all have to be bad. In fact, many people believe that forgiveness is an essential step along the way, even when they're ending a particularly bad relationship with someone.
We hurt ourselves when we hold onto the past because we remain tied to that negativity and pain. That's never a good thing, especially when trying to work your way out of a toxic marriage. Forgiving your partner frees you to move on with your life.
Forgiving someone isn't for them — it's for you. It allows you to move on with your life and removes the weight of someone else's actions holding you down.
However, many people confuse forgiveness with acceptance. In these types of situations, it's important to distinguish the two concepts because they can have a very different impact on your separation and your relationship with your toxic spouse going forward.
So, even if you decide to forgive your abusive partner, do not back down on your decision to leave. Remember that you're doing this for your own benefit, and you don't owe them anything. You deserve the chance to move on, and you absolutely don't have to stay.
4. Seek emotional support
No matter how bad your unhappy marriage was, chances are you will feel sad and conflicted for months after choosing to leave. You will need support from people who either understand or are at least able to empathize with you and provide you with comfort and strength as you move on with your life.
You can find emotional support from lots of places. Some people seek out the love of a family member during times like this, while others confide in a close friend. There are also support groups for these things and therapists ready and willing to support you on your journey toward a new life outside of a toxic marriage.
Just remember: Your support network is there to help you through this difficult time. They will support you, encourage you, and remind you why you're doing this on the days when you feel like giving up. This is why these people are so important — they're your guiding light when you need it.
5. Find a way to move on
Once you finalize your toxic divorce and move out of the house you once shared with your ex (or they moved out), it's time to think about moving on.
This can sometimes be hard, especially if you had been with your partner for a long time or they are still reaching out to you to try to win you back. However, it's essential for you to find some sort of way to move on, even if you take small steps towards your freedom.
You may start by removing the negative impact this person had on your life. You may want to buy different clothes, cut your hair, or go out with friends for drinks one night. Any small steps you can take towards reclaiming your life are good ones, so don't be afraid to live a little.
If you hate being divorced and you're having hard time letting go, you may want to distract yourself with a new hobby or activity to keep yourself occupied. You could even find a group that meets regularly, so you have someplace to socialize outside of your friends and family who know all the details of the divorce.
If your partner keeps trying to reach out to you, it may be time to go no contact and remove them from social media so you can have some time to build a life without them.
Life After Divorcing A Toxic Husband
You may not feel like it right now, but happiness is possible even after an unhealthy marriage. It will take time, but you will find your groove again. Your toxic partner's behavior doesn't make you any less worthy of love and happiness, and it's important to keep that in mind as you begin to move on.
You will eventually find someone who loves you and cares for you the way you deserve. One bad relationship doesn't mean your next one is destined to fail. In fact, it's quite the opposite because you now know what to look for in an ideal partner and a happy marriage.
Give yourself time to heal. Don't be afraid to reinvent yourself. And, at the end of it all, you will rise from the ashes as a new person, ready to take on the world.