Articles by Alex Ryder, Communication, Couple's counselling, Couples

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.

About Alex

Alex is an accessible and compassionate therapist.  His clients appreciate that Alex listens with the intention of genuinely understanding them.  He’s lovely with adolescents, who seem to warm to him

immediately, and he creates a space in sessions for any or all participants to have their say and feel heard.

Alex’s particular strengths are in the area of working with couples and he has extensive experience and training in this area.  He is both Gottman and Systemically trained and draws on practical ideas that clients can immediately make use of to enhance their relationships.

Alex comes to Sydney Couple and Family Therapy Specialists from backgrounds as a Lifeline Crisis Line Counsellor and Trainer and Therapist at the highly-respected Jansen Newman Institute.  He has supported individuals and couples through trauma, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and adolescent struggles.

Alex has helped many people through intensely frightening and painful life events – and to a place where they have the skills and confidence to carry themselves forward.

Alex is married with a young family and therefore easily relates to the stress and struggles that many couples and young families face today.

“It takes a lot of courage to share a moment of crisis with someone you don’t yet know.  Even more so, to entrust your intimate relationship over to them.

I have been in the fortunate position to be trusted with that responsibility many times and have helped people – through their own bravery, honesty and effort – to transcend their suffering and improve their key relationships.”

Alex also runs the pre-marriage counselling course at the Sydney Couple and Family Specialists

Qualifications and Professional Membership

Alex holds a Masters of Counselling and Psychotherapy from Jansen Newman Institute Sydney, and a Bachelor degree from the University of Sydney.  Alex also holds a Gottman training certificate.

He is a member of the Australian Association of Family Therapy, the Counsellors and Psychotherapist Association of Australia, and the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia.

Why see a Couples Counselor?

Are you wondering if couples counselling is for you? In this interview Alex Ryder answers common questions we hear from people who want to understand more about this process.

And remember, if you are a new client you can book a free 15 minute telephone session with Alex.

“We really like your approach. The other couples counsellor we saw left us stuck in negativity.  Right from the start we felt hopeful with you.  Your positive approach helped us out of the slump, so we could address the real issues.” – Murry (36) married to Tasha (39); One Child (3) – Clients who saw Alex Ryder for Relationship counselling.

“I’ve wanted to refer you to so many people.  Obviously I haven’t given the circumstances, but we are huge fans and are so grateful for your help.” – Tom (49) married to Sarah (43). Two children; 15 & 13 – Clients who saw Alex Ryder for Relationship counselling following an affair.

“I think we told you in our first session that you were the last couples therapist we were going to try. Everything was on the line.  So thank you for… well everything.” – James (55) married to Philippa (53) – Clients who saw Alex Ryder for Relationship Counselling

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