A lot of couples who come for counseling usually cite frustration with their partner as one of the major issues they face. This frustration usually stems from unmet expectations.

Expectations play a huge role in relationship satisfaction. Couples who are frustrated say things like ‘You weren’t very supportive of me when I quit my job to freelance’ or ‘You didn’t plan any special activity for our anniversary’. Constant frustration can lead to resentment and create an unhappy relationship.

Here are some practical tips to help you reduce frustration towards your partner.

1.     Communicate – You need to inform your partner of your expectations ahead of time because they can’t read your mind. If you want them to text you more often, or take you on more dates, tell them why it is important to you.

2.     Manage your expectations – Beyond the basic things that are necessary for a happy relationship, decide what’s really important to you and let go of some frivolous things. Remember that your happiness is directly related to your level of expectations. No expectations, no disappointment.

3.     Appreciate – Be grateful for everything that your partner does for you. Appreciate your similarities and differences, and your gratitude will help you unlock a whole new level of love, passion and satisfaction in your relationship.

4.     Don’t keep score – Keeping a mental scorecard of what your partner does or doesn’t do based on your expectations will only cause hurt and frustration. Kill your mental scorecard and remember that if they aren’t aware of your expectations, they can’t possibly live up to them.

5.     Accept your partner – Acceptance is key. Love your partner for who they are, not who you imagine them to be. Accepting your partner’s differences and peculiarities, makes them feel safe and respected. Judgement, however, causes them to feel blamed and become defensive.

6.     Understand your partner – Understanding your partner’s personality and motivations could help you be less frustrated when they don’t meet expectations. For example, if they hate sports they’re probably not going to take the initiative to buy you tickets to see your favorite team play unless you’ve told them how important it is to you. Rather than keeping score, aim to understand your partner’s way of seeing the world.

7.     Learn to calm yourself – Controlling your emotions and response when your expectations aren’t met can be the difference between a happy relationship and an unhappy one that’s bound to end. This means you need to take out time to settle and soothe yourself before talking to your partner about it.

Decide what expectations are important to you, and communicate them to your partner properly. If you are able to accept and appreciate your differences, then you still have a shot at having a loving and fulfilling relationship.

I can help you resolve frustration and anger in your marriage or relationship. If you would like marriage counseling or relationship counseling, please contact me.

Priscilla Hurd, LPC, M.Ed.

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