Articles by Alex Ryder, Couple's counselling

Are you feeling angry and frustrated with your partner?

Couples often come for marriage counselling saying that they’re angry and frustrated with their partner.


This can quickly lead to resentment and the relationship can be in trouble. What I see in couples counselling is that commonly the anger and frustration are about unmet expectations.

Expectations play a significant role in your overall relationship satisfaction.

Here are just a few of the common complaints I hear in my work from couples who are left feeling wounded, hurt, unloved or uncared for… because their expectations weren’t met:

“I sent a text message saying something nice and I didn’t hear back from you for four hours.”

“I didn’t receive flowers or a card for Valentines day.”

“I thought I would be coming home from work to a clean house and a family who were happy to see me.”

“When I told you that I might lose my job, you had nothing nice to say.”

“You didn’t call to say you would be late.”

8 tips to help alleviate frustrations:

1. Communicate your expectations ahead of time – Your partner is not a mind reader. If you expect them to give you a card on Valentine’s day, then tell them how important Valentine’s day is to you. If you want them to call when they’re coming home late, then tell them why that’s important to you.

2. Let go of some of your expectations – Beyond a base set of rules that ensure safety in your relationship, your level of expectations for your partner is directly related to your level of dissatisfaction, anger and frustration. It is important to decide which expectations are worth holding on to.

3. Learn to self sooth – Managing your response when expectations have not been met can be the difference between a relationship that is improving and one that is headed for the rocks. This might mean taking time out to settle yourself before raising the issue with your partner.

4. Explore – The areas of frustration in your relationship are areas that you and your partner have different rules or scorecards. Rather than keeping score or enforcing your way, explore with curiosity your partner’s way of seeing the world. Understand their scorecard.

5. Burn your scorecard – Keeping a mental scorecard of your partner’s behaviour based on your rules and your expectations will guarantee relationship dissatisfaction, frustration and anger over the long-term. You can’t control your partner and they are not necessarily playing by the same set of rules as you.

6. Acceptance – Accepting your partner’s differences and idiosyncrasies is validating for them. It creates safety in the relationship and brings them closer because it communicates respect. Judgement or score-keeping however, causes your partner to feel blamed and will make them defensive. Once that occurs, you have less chance of rescuing the situation.

7. Appreciate – When you are able to truly appreciate and treasure the differences you have with your partner; in how you see the world versus how they see the world; in the way you do things versus the way they do things, your relationship will experience love and passion in a whole new way.

8. Assume the best – Assuming or believing your partner has positive qualities and will perform well does help them perform better. But if you tie your happiness to those assumptions or beliefs by making them expectations, then you have just set your relationship up for failure.

Decide which expectations are worth holding on to and communicate them to your partner. If you are able to accept and appreciate your remaining differences then love and passion will re-enter your relationship.

Sydney Couple and Family Specialists can help you resolve frustration and anger in your marriage or relationship. If you would like marriage counselling or relationship counselling, contact Sydney Couple and Family Specialists on 02 8968 9397.

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