Handling Frustration in Marriage
A Patient Man Has Great Understanding, But a Quick-tempered Man Displays Folly. Proverbs 14:29
Welcome to the world of frustration—marriage. You have probably experienced some frustration already; but just wait until you start planning the details of the wedding.
Then you can relax—or can you? Frustrations will occur more than you realize once you are married; and some of them will flare into anger.
What culprits create frustration? One will be your expectations. We all have expectations, but some have more than others have. You have expectations for yourself, your friends, your soon-to-be partner and now for your marriage relationship. One problem: Too many expectations remain unspoken. When this happens, expectations may turn into demands.
You cannot expect your partner to read your mind and just “know” what you expect. You cannot expect your partner to be exactly like an idolized parent, or totally unlike the parent.
You may expect your partner to supply all you missed as a child. This puts pressure on your partner and will only result in one thing—frustration.
Another cause for frustration is a belief or value from the baby boomer generation—it is called “entitlement.” This belief says if you want something, the other person has no right to say no.
It confuses desire with obligation. Unfortunately, this mind-set says your partner must give up his or her boundaries for you. It is another form of demanding. This attitude shows little care or concern for a partner.
What happens when your partner brings the same attitude into the marriage? The result may be a standoff, a clash, a power struggle and frustration. An attitude of entitlement is doomed to failure; not only won’t it work, but it is also contrary to the teaching of Scripture.
Another reason for frustration developing in marriage is the belief that life must be fair. Relationships must be fair and my partner must be fair according to my standard of fairness.
Who determines what is fair? Who said life is fair? If you want to be frustrated, hold on to this belief. It will get you there fast!
Keep in mind that frustration doesn’t remain frustration; it evolves into anger. Sometimes your anger emerges because you want a better, closer, more intimate relationship with your partner.
That’s okay, but remember—responding in frustration and anger won’t draw you closer, but will create a greater distance between you. After all, who wants to come close to a frustrated angry partner?
What can you do to keep the frustration out of your marriage? Identify your expectations, evaluate them and discuss them.
Evict the feelings of entitlement in your life. Who wants to keep a belief that is doomed to failure? Do the same with the belief that life must be fair.
Then, internalize the guidelines from God’s Word. God has preserved those Scriptures through the centuries for a major reason: His guidelines for life are the best because they work.
Read the following two fundamental truths from Proverbs. Memorize them, practice them and watch your frustration shrink:
A wise man controls his temper. He knows that anger causes mistakes (14:29, TLB).
It is better to be slow-tempered than famous; it is better to have self-control than to control an army (16:32, TLB).
H. Norman Wright is a licensed Family Counselor and child therapist and has taught in the Grad. Department of Biola University. He is the author of more than seventy books