9 Signs You’re a Toxic Person

9 Signs You're a Toxic PersonToxic people are everywhere – at work, at the gym, on the highway, you name it.

We all have seasons in our lives when we’re frustrated, depressed, or discouraged. After all, those are all natural human emotions.

But beyond occasional bouts of depression or even just “the grumpies” lies a place where nobody wants to be: Toxicity.

So what happens when one of them lives in your house?

And when that person is you?

It doesn’t take much research to find study after study associating negative close relationships with higher probabilities of things like heart disease, depression, adrenal fatigue, obesity, and early death.

And while we might all question the “need” for a study to tell us being a toxic jerk is a bad thing,” the studies are there. So now we have common sense and science telling us being toxic is a bad thing.

Given that, how can you tell if you’re a toxic jerk causing the person you promised to love forever – the person you love second most in the world (after yourself, naturally…) – extreme mental and physical harm?

Here are 9 warning signs that your spouse is living with a toxic person…

And, before you ask, the answer to “What if I only display one or two of these?  Does that mean I’m toxic?” the answer is “I don’t know, but if you only display one or two of these that at least means you have one or two things to work on no matter what the ‘label,'” wouldn’t you agree?

One more thing: while I could suggest ways to get help, I asked my good friend and Toxicity Education Advocate, Jen Moff, to draft a couple of posts for all of us on  that. Be sure to check back right here the next two Mondays to welcome Jen and thank her for sharing such important information with all of us!

1. You’re self-centered.

When you get home and your wife says she had a rough day, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If your natural reaction starts with something like “you think you had a bad day” you might be a toxic husband.

2. You’re controlling.

Does she have to ask your permission to do things that normal people “just do”? How do you react when you ask her for something and she says no? Do you get mad? Pout? Go on a guilt trip offensive?

3. You would rather be right than happy.

There’s a difference between being “right” and being “happy.” If you don’t know the difference or don’t care as long as you’re right, you might be a toxic husband. Do you keep arguing until she gives in even when you’re plain wrong? Are you so focused on being right that you lose sight of what you’re actually arguing about sometimes? Bullying your way through an argument until your wife gives in even when you’re wrong makes nobody happy.

4. You’re negative.

Do you wake up in the morning waiting for the world to suck the life out of you? Are your days “bad” until something happens to make it “good”? Do you find yourself responding to pretty good news with “yea, but [something to the effect of it could have been better]”? Do you find yourself regularly seeing the negative in things?

5. You talk too much.

Is there anything more demoralizing than trying to express a want or need to the person who promised to love you forever but not being heard? When your wife is talking are you actually listening or are you just waiting for her mouth to stop moving so you can say what you want to next?

6. You’ve never met a “victim card” you didn’t play.

You know those people. The world is out to get them. They have no luck. They can’t do anything right. They were the only people stuck in traffic. Their boss won’t listen to them. Their wife doesn’t understand them. They, they, they.

7. You think your spouse owes you something.

Your wife promised to love you, respect you, and care for you. And you promised the same in return. You did not vow to “love and respect you as long as you go first.” If you withhold affection, emotional support, companionship or anything else that goes with being a loving husband because you think she hasn’t done enough, you may have some serious problems.

8. “Everything” is “always” an extreme and you “never” get “any” “help.”

Does your wife never listen? Does she always nag you? Do you do everything around the house and never get a second to relax? If you’re constantly going to the extreme, you’ve lost touch with reality and might be a toxic husband. The reality is that unless there’s a toxic spouse or agreement where one spouse does one chore and the other does another, rarely is one spouse doing “everything” in a relationship. If you constantly say or think in extremes, you may be a toxic husband.

9. Boundaries? What boundaries?

Your spouse needs space sometimes. Respect that. If you get upset when your wife is tired or frustrated and asks for some time alone then you might be a toxic person. If your wife closes a door and you just barge in without knocking, that’s pretty inconsiderate. Just like you want some space or boundaries, so does she. Oh, and if you thought “I’ll respect hers when she respects mine,” you might be a toxic husband.

So what now?

All of us have our moments. But moments are fleeting. If you find yourself regularly engaging in activities like these, you’re likely hurting the person you’re supposed to love the most.

Chances are none of you are truly happy.

And maybe it’s time for you to figure out what you can do to improve.

Be sure to check back next Monday for Jen’s first post or subscribe to the site to have it sent right to your e-mail!

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

My 7 Favorite “Long-Term Relationship Hacks”

My 7 Favorite Long-Term Relationship HacksAnother day another viral marriage post that comes across my keyboard, this one courtesy of a friend who just needed to share Buzzfeed’s “15 Long-Term Relationship Hacks” post from a little over a year ago.

At first a post touting relationship “hacks” seemed suspicious. But after reading the subtitle and list of “hacks,” it’s clear that the title was just effective copywriting.

The list has some pretty creative ideas to help solve some of the more common day-to-day relationship issues that can cause turmoil and tips on living a happy life with your happy wife!

Here are a my 7 favorite “Relationship Hacks” from the post. Be sure to check out the other 8 in the original Buzzfeed post.  

If I’ve learned anything since starting this journey, it’s that it’s super important to be conscious and intentional about things like these and continue to read, listen to, and discuss ways to continually improve as a spouse.

OK.  Let’s dig in:

1. Talk about the good stuff first.

When you get home from work, the first thing each of you talk about is the best thing that happened to each of you that day. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just start with the best thing that happened. Start positive, no matter how frustrating your day was. Brilliant.

2. Use gift-giving occasions as an opportunity to encourage your partner to try something new.

This is pretty awesome. Instead of another sweater or manicure, use holidays and birthdays to buy your partner things like classes, tools, instruments, and other things that will help them broaden their horizons and let them know you believe in them.  I suggest adding a nice note of encouragement to it and consider making it a gift for two, too.

3. Prove yourself wrong sometimes

Freely admit that you were wrong when you are wrong.  HINT: You’re often wrong.  You’ll find that it’s actually freeing for you and your spouse will appreciate it and start taking after your example. Yep. This whole blog is about me being wrong… :)

4. Don’t gloat when you’re right.

Just as important as admitting when you’re wrong is being graceful when you’re right. Gloating when you’re right is divisive. And gloating about being right is a surefire way to end up “wrong” even when you technically started out right…

5. If you agree to let something go and move on, LET IT GO AND MOVE ON.

This is a HUGE trust issue. And it’s important for your mind, too.  (BONUS: Most things should be let go. Not everything is about the “principle.”).

6. Take breaking up off the table when you’re fighting.

This takes arguments to a whole other level. Your goal should be to de-escalate an argument. Turn it into a “discussion.” And never, ever mention breaking up in a fight. If you are going to break up with someone, that’s a separate discussion and doesn’t belong in the heat of an argument.

7. Collaborate on a long list of things you’ve always wanted to do in your own city

Take that list and choose one for each date night. (Also be sure to designate a date night.).  I’m a big fan of batching activities like writing, recording, working, etc. It gets your juices flowing and allows you to be way more productive and “in the zone” with each activity.  This is like batching date night ideas and can be fun to cross things off the list.  Maybe even take 6 or 8 ideas each date night, write them on post-it notes and put the notes on a board game spinner to choose that week’s date night activity… :)

Relationship Hacks?

Who knows. I still think just creative copywriting. But I’m glad it caught my friend’s attention because it put some cool tips on my screen.

Do you have any creative tips to add to the list?  Let me know in the comments or e-mail me at Nick@ATerribleHusband.com.  

I’d love to hear from you!

Do you love the one you love?

Do you love the one you love-


This doesn’t happen often, but these last two posts from Joanne were so awesome that I put off my post that was supposed to go live in between.  :)

So instead of a post last wednesday I delayed it until next Monday so we could enjoy these two posts in a row!

Can you remember the moment you fell in love?

That pivotal moment when, suddenly, the world stood still and you imagined a full orchestra playing a crescendo of romantic music in the background and your heart did a flip-flop like you had just dropped from cresting a gigantic hill on a roller-coaster? That kind of love? Can you remember it?

A mutual friend introduced Dan to me on my very first day at the Ohio State University branch campus. I was a seventeen-year-old sheltered and very naive freshman and he was a Conservative Mennonite eighteen-year-old sophomore. I needed a ride to campus several days a week and he was quick to jump at the opportunity. We quickly became great friends. But I remember one day as clear as a bell. The day IT happened. He had picked me up in his little Renault Dauphine (look it up!) four-speed on the floor. We were talking animatedly, as always when he reached up to adjust the volume on the radio. Instead of bringing his hand back down to rest on the gear shift, he rested it on my knee. Now, come on, you know that feeling. Like an electrical spark happens and you suddenly realize this isn’t just a friendship any more. And that is exactly what happened. In less than a year we were married. That incident happened in 1967. A few years ago. But to this day, I love it when Dan puts his hand on my knee, or pulls me in a bear-hug or snuggles up to keep me warm.

Decades of marriage bring on differing manifestations of love. They may not include all the tingles and butterflies and crescendos of orchestral music, but I challenge you to never forget why you fell in love with the one you love. Because, chances are, the very reasons you did are often the very attributes that cause you to bristle and pull your hair out in frustration. Funny how that happens. As a very naive seventeen-year-old who never experienced having a father or brother, I cherished the strength and determination I saw in Dan. I still do. I loved his brain and his ability to be decisive and carry through. I still do. And sometimes those very things I most love about him are what drive me mad. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I, too, have a voice in what happens in our relationship because if I don’t I can quickly become consumed by his more overpowering personality.

Ever have this kind of conversation?

Dan: “Where would you like to go to eat?”
Joanne: “I don’t know. I ‘m open to whatever.”
Dan: “Ok then, let’s go to Gracias.”
Joanne: “No, I don’t want Mexican!”
Dan: “Well, how about sushi?”
Joanne: “No, I eat there every week with the girls and I’m getting tired of sushi!”
Dan: “Why don’t you tell me where you would like to go then?!”
Joanne: “I said I was open….just not those places.”

By now Dan is feeling like Charlie Brown when Lucy has once again retracted the football when he was running to kick it. And I’m wishing I could be more decisive and make the choice without this kind of scenario. But we are different and after all these decades we recognize those differences and they don’t bother us as much as they did when we were early into our relationship, trying to figure each other out.

Every now and then I think on why I married my dear husband. And I keep a couple of photographs on display in our home of when we were first married and had stars in our eyes and so much love in our hearts we were full to bursting. Our love hasn’t diminished. It has grown so much stronger through the years because we have learned to live with each other in the everyday. Not just the date nights when everything is perfect, the candles are burning and the orchestra is playing in our heads and we see nothing but the best in one another. We have been together through some very rough times and clung together in tears and in loss.

How has your love changed for your partner?

I challenge you to spend an evening together reminiscing about the first time you knew for certain THIS was the one. The only one. Perhaps you will hear music you had forgotten was there all the time.

Do you love me? (What to do to make sure your spouse never has to ask)

Do you love me-Golde: Do I love him? For twenty-five years, I’ve lived with him, Fought with him, starved with him. For twenty-five years, my bed is his. If that’s not love, what is?
Tevye: Then you love me?
Golde: I suppose I do.
Tevye: And I suppose I love you, too.
Together: It doesn’t change a thing, but even so, after twenty-five years, it’s nice to know*

I just came back from a week spent on a California beach with my long-time girlfriend, Irene.

As soon as I began to unpack my suitcase, a huge smile lit up my face with the discovery of one of Dan’s love-notes. Just simple, handwritten notes on post-it sheets telling me he is thinking of me, wishing me a great time with my dear friend, and just loving me.

Telling me he loves me. Throughout the week I kept discovering more notes.

When did he have time to write them and insert them into my suitcase when I didn’t know? That’s always part of the mystery and fun… and romance of it.

You see we have been doing this for each other most of our marriage. If one of us goes away without the other, the traveler can expect to find love notes somewhere in his bags or books. And the one staying home can expect to find a note, card, or delayed email.

I usually leave a nice letter for him on his pillow. I have even been known to put a note in the shower, inside the lid of the Mentholatum he puts on his lips at night to keep them soft (for me!), tucked into his underpants or the sleeve of a shirt.

He will often stick a love note inside the book I am taking along to read or layer them in the many layers of clothing I simply “have” to take.

The point is, we take the time to let each other know we will be thinking of them even when we are apart. Especially when we are apart. Tangible gifts of love.

It is great to hear, “I love you”. In fact it is very important to hear the words. Never forget that.

I remember a conversation Dan and I had soon after we were married. He did not come from a home where “I love you” was said verbally. Neither did I. But I craved it. I wanted to hear the words. Dan figured if he was showing me by doing things for me and keeping a roof over my head, I should know he loves me. Why use up words? I would say them often to him, hoping he would figure it out at some point. Finally one day I got tired of waiting:

Me: “Dan, do you love me?”
Dan: “Of course, why?”
Me: “Then why is it so hard for you to tell me so?”
Dan: “I do tell you!”
Me: “Yes, you do…..after I have told you. Always after I have said it first. You sound like a parrot. Polly want a cracker?” (Ok, that was a little sarcastic and totally not necessary…especially since Polly was my mother’s name….. but I was in a mood)
Dan (totally stumped): “I show you all the time that I love you.” (Ok, now he sounds like Golde in Fiddler on the Roof and I am wanting Antonio Banderas)
Me: “But I need to hear you say the words. Not because you heard me say them but because you mean them and you want me to know it. I see it in action but I long to hear it in your voice.”
Dan: “Ok, I can work on that. I love you!”

And he did.

A lot.

Over the years he has been more aware of saying it to his loved ones. He never hangs up the phone with one of our children or grandchildren without saying, “I love you.” He never leaves the house without kissing me and saying those three important words. It has become a good habit that endears him to family and home.

Don’t be a parrot. Don’t overlook the importance of those three small words. And the love notes…..

Be Antonio Banderas! She’ll love it.

*Lyrics from Do You Love Me?, Fiddler on the Roof. Written by: GORDY, BERRY JR, Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, BOCK IP LLC, IMAGEM U.S. LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group