Supporting YOUR Partner When They Express Frustration


Making a committed, romantic relationship work for the long term is a delicate balancing act.

It involves a dynamic dance between doing and being, giving and receiving, setting boundaries and being flexible.

When our partners express frustration it can be all too easy, especially for us guys, to simply jump into ‘problem solving mode’ while giving very little attention to the feelings that are being expressed.

Does this strategy really work?

Is there a more effective and compassionate way to deal with our partner’s frustrations?

Some basic rules of thumb for supporting your partner when they express frustration and/or disappointment

  • Validate your partner’s feelings
  • Acknowledge their efforts
  • Encourage them to let go and relax
  • Always ask them if they want your help, before offering assistance
  • Always ask them how they would like you to help
  • Always remind your partner that you love them just the way they are

Validate your partner’s feelings

It’s all about trust.

Trust requires ‘safety’.

We feel most safe and secure when we can fully be ourselves.

One way to build trust and safety is to communicate that all feelings will be heard, acknowledged, and accepted.

The best way to communicate all of the above is to simply be quiet and listen.

I encourage you to give your partner full permission to just express how they feel.

Guys, please get this one.

When your partner ‘backs up the proverbial dump truck’ and expresses their frustration or disappointment just listen

  • Don’t take anything that he/she says personally
  • There is no ‘right or wrong’, it just is
  • Always remember that the details are not important
  • Do not try and do any problem solving

Just listen and express you support.

You might try saying, “that sounds awful, you must feel so disappointed”.

Now if you’re also ‘disappointed’ always try and remember that there will be time to vent your feelings also.

Just inwardly acknowledge that you have feelings and trust that you will get the opportunity to be heard as well.

Acknowledge their efforts

Everyone wants to feel appreciated and loved, especially when things don’t work out as hoped for or expected. 

Once you have fully supported your partner’s feelings by listening and asking questions to understand, it is important to acknowledge their efforts as well.

Our materially oriented, results driven society has conditioned many of us to act as if the outcome or result is more important than the person or people involved.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s the striving that matters!

Acknowledging your partner’s efforts is really very easy.

You might try saying, “I know how hard you tried to _____.” or “I get just how much effort you put into _______.”  I am so proud of how you showed up.”

Put the emphases on their efforts.

Their personal courage and striving.

By taking this approach you are actively supporting the development of  your partner’s ‘core virtues’  which, in turn, helps them to manifest more of their higher self- the person you were attracted to in your heart to begin with!

By supporting them in this way, you are helping them to stay ‘connected’  to their true value as a human being.

The bottom line is that you want your partner to know that you value them  for who they are!  And  You especially want them to value themselves!

Let’s set a mutual intention to always try and transform disappointment into an opportunity for growth, deeper self-love, and positive personal transformation.

Encourage them to let go and relax

Most of the time we know what helps our partners to simply let go and relax.

Perhaps rubbing their shoulders or neck helps.

Perhaps rubbing their feet helps.

If you don’t know what might help them to let go and relax, you might try asking them.

You might say something like this:

“What can I do to help you let go and relax?”

The important thing is to be sensitive.

It’s not up to you to get them to relax. It is up to you to offer your support and help, so that they can relax.

Perhaps they just need a ‘little time to themselves’.

Always ask them if they want your help, before offering assistance

When our partners expresses frustration it is only natural to want to help them to move forward.

In this context it seems useful to point out that respect is the minimum expression of love.

From my world-view, the most respectful way to assist anyone in crises is to ask for their permission before attempting to provide any problem solving assistance.

Always ask them how they would like you to help

Once your partner has acknowledged that they would like your help, it is a very wise practice to ask them how they would like you to help.

This seems obvious, but it is an easily overlooked step.

When people are frustrated their sense of control over their lives is generally reduced.

One way to help them back to a stronger sense of self-empowerment is to ask them to direct how you can support them.

In this context, I feel that it is important to leave your partner in complete freedom to choose what is right for them in this moment.

They may respond to the question, ”How can I support you” with “I don’t know”.

This is perfectly fine.

Don’t take this sort of answer personally.  It has nothing to do with you!

If your partner responds in this way, I recommend saying something like this, “I am here for you.  If you think of some way that I can support you, please let me know.”

Leave them in freedom to find a solution themselves, in their own time and have faith that they will do so!

If appropriate, set a time to check back with them.

Always remind your partner that you love them just the way they are!

From my experience, most of us are fragile when we are frustrated.

We are all too aware that we are simply not at our best.

Frustrated = Fragile.

Again, always remmember to remind your partner that you love them just the way they are.

Remember, it’s the relationship that matters.

Times of frustration and disappointment can be transformed into opportunities to move closer together in love. 

I hope that you found this post useful.

Live, connect, love, prosper

See you next week!

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Comment by stephen light
February 26, 2013 @ 5:32 am

Dear Ron

This is one of your best posts ever. I love this line:

Validate your partner’s feelings

It’s all about trust.

Trust requires ‘safety’.

We feel most safe and secure when we can fully be ourselves.

Safety, safety, safety is the relationship equivalent to position, position, position in real estate so well done for naming it. I love this post thank you.

Love & Courage
Stephen Light

Comment by williamtrimpi
February 26, 2013 @ 10:44 am

Thank you Ron-i love the frustrated equals fragile-that’s so right on–Rainbows-Bill

Comment by Ron
March 3, 2013 @ 11:42 am

Dear Bill,
Thank you for your comment.
Warmly, Ron Capocelli

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