Role of Cultural and Religious Beliefs in Keeping You Stuck with Unhealthy Relationships

Role of Cultural and Religious Beliefs in Keeping You Stuck with Unhealthy Relationships role of cultural and religious beliefs in keeping you stuck with unhealthy relationships
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Our culture and religious beliefs have a huge impact to play in keeping us stuck in toxic relationship patterns. Our culture dictates some our behaviors and norms and some may be so rigid to the point that you ignore your own inner peace for the sake of following along with your beliefs. It’s one of those topics we don’t even like to talk about because of the general fear and backlash around it.

Very few will stand up and really challenge or see beyond those beliefs. Our perception of marriage and relationship is greatly influenced by religious and cultural beliefs to the point we’ve lost touch with our true voice. Our true voice here is that voice behind beliefs, or that voice of the pain you’re feeling deep inside.

Regardless of which kind of belief system you subscribe to, a belief system is a learned system which depends on the environment you’ve been brought up in. Your belief system will, of course, limit your independence in terms of thinking and decision-making.

This article is not meant to challenge your belief system, whatsoever, but it will just show you some aspects of culture and religious beliefs that may play a role in keeping you stuck in an unhealthy relationship.

You may not be a victim of this but there’s someone in your close circle who’s stuck in that toxic relationship because of their culture or religious beliefs. Some aspects of culture that have an impact in keeping us stuck in toxic relationship patterns include: –

1. Traditional Family Unit

The belief of keeping the traditional family unit is one of the main reasons why people get stuck in toxic marriage. Depending on your culture, there’s always this strong emphasis of maintaining that family unit at all costs even at the expense of your own inner peace.

It’s the persevere for the family kind of attitude or ‘family first’ or ‘blood is thicker than water.’ Fed with this, you will feel ashamed or you will feel that you’re betraying your extended family by leaving that relationship. You may be dissatisfied with the relationship but you don’t want to look like an outcast in a family with no head (husband) or helper (wife).

The other thing is you were raised in a traditional family unit and you want to do the same for your kids. It’s also an indicator of stability and it will even earn you respect in society. In fact, in my village, you cannot be a village elder if you’re not in a ‘stable’ marriage (lol). Like, “how can you lead when you can’t stay in a stable marriage”. Almost all cultures care less about what’s happening behind the scenes. The fact that a traditional family unit is viewed as a sign of stability, prestige and ‘happiness’ (on the outside) will make some of us stick to unhealthy relationships.

2. Gender Roles and Expectations

Our cultures are filled with toxic gender roles which can also keep us stuck in toxic relationships. Your gender identification as a man or a woman carries some expectations to it. The most common ones are the man as the provider and protector while the woman is to be submissive. Depending on your interpretation, of course, it can imply that the woman will sacrifice their own well-being and inner peace for the sake of their husband’s happiness.

It doesn’t really take into consideration things like reciprocity or boundaries. So, if a woman finds herself in a toxic relationship, she will stick to it because she doesn’t want to upset her partner. After all, her role is to keep them happy. Another thing is, in some cultures, a woman is not really encouraged to have their own money because the man will provide for her.

This will of course limit their independence and options when it comes to leaving the relationship. On the other hand, for men they’ve been conditioned to have this ‘dominant’ and ‘fearless’ masculine nature. So, when they get abused or fall into the hands of a female covert narcissist, they will not come out and even dare share what they’re going through because it will look unmanly. They will stick to it to maintain their ‘masculinity.’

3. Religious Beliefs

Religion has many aspects to it and it plays a huge role in keeping you stuck. I’ve interacted with some beautiful human beings who are tied to abusive relationships but they just feel helpless to leave. One aspect of religion is that, most of them discourage divorce and even view it as sin which makes it’s really hard for someone to even view leaving that marriage as an option. It will all be about preserving the marriage out of fear that they will burn in hell or ‘God’ will punish them. The thought of ‘going against God’ is more painful than sticking to a toxic relationship.

Also, religious teachings emphasize on forgiveness and compassion which are really great qualities but not when you’re dealing with a serial manipulator. When you subscribe to these feelings of compassion and forgiveness, you may interpret them as the reason why you need to forgive your cheating or hurtful spouse even when they keep repeating the same, same toxic behaviors. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why you may not set boundaries or even hold them accountable for their actions.

Religion is a quite complicated one but it all depends on your interpretation or mostly the interpretation of your religious teacher.

4. Stigma Around Divorce

There’s also this general aspect of viewing divorcees as failures. We celebrate weddings with expensive banquets and treats but a divorce is mostly done silently. Our culture encourages people to come together and get married but there’s not word around leaving if things get tough. Only a few enlightened cultures view divorce as just a normal thing.

There’s just this general aspect of seeing divorce as a bad thing and it’s better to just ‘hide’ behind an abusive marriage than even talk about it. Even the wedding vows themselves emphasize so much on permanence of marriage in front of your own inner peace. It’s more of when you’re married, you’re supposed to commit to it for life.

Oh, even the wedding vows are all about, “Till death do us apart” (this should be changed to till abuse do us apart). So, the entry is clear but the exit is full of stigma, threats, fear and a whole lot of dragons you have to slay before you leave. In fact, the aspect of permanence (it may hide behind commitment) is the thing holding most relationships together, it’s not even love or growth. The stigma around leaving will make it hard to leave, only the courageous and brave ones pull it off.


There are many aspects of cultural and religious beliefs that may make you stick to an unhealthy relationship. It’s enough to fill a book with it but if you really want to learn more, just look around you and have an open mind. It’s not easy to break free from these patterns because your relationship is not just between you and your partner, it’s more of a relationship between you, your partner, your culture and your religious beliefs.

When you leave, you have to go against some of your cultural norms and beliefs you’ve been conditioned with since childhood. That’s why leaving a toxic relationship will always be a difficult and complex decision because it depends on your inner strength as well as how deeply entrenched you’re with your culture and religious beliefs.

But regardless of your belief system, just know that no one (your ancestors or your ‘God’) will want you to suffer and be in pain. Always prioritize your own well-being and healing then maybe you will have a clear interpretation and understanding of your scriptures and beliefs without pain or trauma getting in the way.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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