Do you ever find yourself frustrated in marriage, but unsure of how to express that frustration without being rude or passive? In today’s #MarriageMonday, Mark is diving into 5 ways to express frustration in a healthy way!

Mark here. Over the past seven weeks, I’ve been navigating a ton of health issues. First a detached retina, then an additional retinal tear, then a mini-stroke, then ANOTHER detached retina (all in the same eye!). It was a lot to handle emotionally and I found myself very frustrated. (We just talked about it on a short bonus episode of the No More Perfect Podcast Episode that you can listen to here.)

Jill and I call ourselves Mark and Jill 2.0 since our marriage crisis 10 years ago. Mark and Jill 1.0 weren’t as emotionally healthy as Mark and Jill 2.0 are. However, in order for there to be a Mark and Jill 2.0, there has to be a Mark 2.0 and a Jill 2.0.

Want to know a night and day difference between Mark 1.0 and Mark 2.0? How I manage my frustrations.

A few weeks ago, Jill said to me, “Mark 1.0 would not have been managing these health challenges well but Mark 2.0 is really staying steady and navigating these frustrations well.” That made me feel really proud of the growth I’ve experienced.

That same steadiness is what I’ve also experienced in marriage. It’s what’s allowed me to learn to express frustration to Jill in healthy 2.0 ways.

Did you know that it’s possible to express frustration in a healthy way? It really is! Yet often we see couples fall into a couple traps.

Here’s a pop quiz for you (don’t worry, it’s easy):

  1. Have you ever gotten in a fight with your spouse because you felt your needs aren’t being met?
  2. Or have you ever told yourself that you don’t need to explicitly express your needs to your partner, because they should just KNOW?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, don’t worry, you didn’t fail. But you do need to study up on healthy ways to communicate your needs to your spouse…just like I had to do.

I want to invite you to take these five steps to express frustration to your partner in healthier ways:

1) Be Forgiving

This step is the hardest, but will be the most rewarding when done first. Before you even say a word to your spouse, forgive them for not noticing your needs.


  • Because our partners are not mind-readers. There are many things that will seem obvious to you, but your spouse will simply not see it.
  • Because God calls us to forgive. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
  • Because the act of forgiveness will help your brain shift from the “debate” mentality into the “dialogue” mentality. This is so important!

This first step has been a game-changer for me. I talk to God before I ever talk to Jill.

2) Be Compassionate

This is crucial, especially if you’re having trouble with the “forgiving” phase.

Take a moment to reflect on how things are going for your spouse:

  • Are they struggling with other responsibilities, like work or parenting?
  • Do they seem to be going through a rough day, or even a rough week?

Once you notice the things your partner is balancing, take another moment to forgive them for not seeing your needs, and find gratitude in the things they are doing for you. In fact, thank God specifically for three things your spouse is doing that you’ve not been paying attention to. This will increase compassion and appreciation right away.

3) Be Direct

Too often we lack direct communication about our frustrations. Now is the time to remedy that. No hinting, no subtlety. No passive-aggressive snarky comments. No questions.

Tell your partner exactly what you need with steady, kind words. Remember: “I” statements are your friend. Avoid “you” statements.

For example:

  • “I love it when we connect in the evening after the kids go to bed. Can we do that tonight?”
  • “I need you to hold me for a minute.”
  • “I miss going out on dates with just the two of us. Could we put a regular date night on the calendar?”

Direct, but not aggressive…that is key.

4) Be Specific

While you’re being direct with your spouse, don’t forget to be specific.

  • Being direct is telling your partner, “I need more connection.”
  • Being direct and specific is telling them, “I need more connection with physical touch. Can we hold hands more on our walks?”

This lets your spouse know the actions that mean the most to you.

5) Be Inquisitive

Once you’ve made yourself and your needs crystal clear to your partner, don’t stop there! There’s still one more very important step:

Ask them what they need.

Sure, they may not be as frustrated as you are in that moment, but they absolutely have needs. Making the effort to check in with them shows that your acts of giving and receiving aren’t a one-way street.

Your act of caring for their needs is a way to practically express love.

Frustration is inevitable in marriage. It’s entirely possible, though, to deal with those frustrations in healthier ways. I hope you’ll give one of those a try today as you help your spouse understand your needs.

I’m curious: Which one stood out most for you? How else have you learned to express frustration in healthy ways?


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