Dealing with feelings of frustration with a partner
Many couples who come for therapy cite frustration with their partner as one of the significant issues they face. This frustration often is from unmet and unexplained expectations.
Expectations play a huge role in relationship health. Couples who are frustrated find themselves saying things like ‘You weren’t very supportive of me when I quit my job’ or ‘You didn’t plan a special event for our anniversary’. Frustration can lead to resentment and create a break down in communication.
Here are some suggestions to help you reduce potential.
- Communicate – Inform your partner of your expectations ahead of time because they can not read your mind. If you would like them to text you more often, or take you on more dates, help them understand why it is important to you.
- Try to manage your expectations – Beyond the basic things that are necessary for a happy relationship, decide what is important and let go of some frivolous things. Remember that your happiness can be directly related to your level of expectations. If you can let go of expectations, you are letting go of potential disappointment.
- Try to appreciate – Be grateful for the things that your partner does do for you. Appreciate your similarities and differences, and this gratitude will help you feel love, passion and satisfaction in your relationship.
- Do not keep score – Keeping a mental scorecard of what your partner does or doesn’t do will only cause hurt and frustration. Let go of your mental scorecard and remember that if they aren’t aware of your expectations, they can’t possibly live up to them.
- Accept your partner – Acceptance is essential. Loving your partner for who they are, rather than whom you imagine them to be is critical. Accepting your partner’s differences, perhaps their peculiarities will make them feel safe and respected. Judgement can cause them to feel blamed and become defensive.
- Understand your partner – Moving towards understanding your partner’s motivations could help you be less frustrated when they don’t meet expectations. For example, if they hate watching sport, they are probably not going to take the initiative to buy tickets to see your favourite team play unless you have told them how important this is to you. Moving towards an understanding of your partner’s way of seeing the world will create intimacy.
- Learn to calm yourself when you feel overwhelmed – Having an awareness of your emotions and responses when your expectations are not met can be the difference between a happy relationship and an unhappy one. This may mean you need to take time out to self regulate before talking about it.
Decide what expectations are the most important to you, and communicate them to your partner clearly and compassionately. If you can find a way to accept and appreciate your differences, this will continue to strengthen and build intimacy in your relationship.
I can help you navigate these conversations within your relationship through couples counselling here in Brighton and Hove. If you would like to explore this work, please contact me.