alduhs, Author at Relationship Expert

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Is Resentment Wrecking Your Relationship?

is resentment wrecking your relationship?

​Is Resentment Wrecking Your Relationship? How to Turn Things Around

Is Resentment Wrecking Your Relationship? How to Turn Things Around

Is Resentment Wrecking Your Relationship? How to Turn Things Around

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. ”

-Carrie Fischer

It’s been referred to as the cancer of relationships.

It’s one of the main reasons why relationships break-up over time.

It is a silent killer, sneaking up on couples slowly. It may seem like nothing at first-perhaps your spouse neglects his share of the housework or criticizes you in front of others. You may have ignored this trait at the start of the relationship. You used to think: “That’s just how he (or she) is”.

Over time however, for many couples frustration and resentment starts to build. What you once found amusing or quirky you now start to dislike. Resentment builds up, creating a wall between you and your partner that many couples simply cannot break-down.

Take John, for instance. He has been in relationship with Sandra for just over three years. Sandra is a loving, caring and organized person-but is often late to activities that she and John have planned. At first John didn’t mind-he was so happy to be in relationship with Sandra and thought: “So what if she is late? She is the best partner I am likely to get!”

Three years later John is not so sure. He is tired of waiting for Sandra and can’t understand her lateness. He knows that he cannot change her-but something is building up inside him. He is becoming more emotionally detached. Their communication is suffering as John begins to close down. Even their sex life is affected. Unless John finds some way to deal with his resentment, their whole relationship may be threatened.

What Is Resentment?

American psychotherapist Mark Sichel describes resentment as follows:

“Resentment refers to the mental process of repetitively replaying a feeling, and the events leading up to it, that goads or angers us. We don’t replay a cool litany of facts in resentment; we re-experience and relive them in ways that affect us emotionally, physiologically, and spiritually in very destructive ways.”

This reiteration of anger is the key pattern in feeling resentment, and the constant return of annoying or upsetting memories is the most distinctive sign that it’s present in you.

Resentment then, is a mental process. A past event or series of events has made us unhappy, so in our minds we:

  • Replay the event (or events) over and over and over.
  • Focus on someone to blame, like our partner, and refuse to forgive them.
  • Feel the anger and pain anew each time we replay it.
  • Allow resentment to grow for those we deem guilty.

Why Choose Resentment?

Resentment is a very complex feeling-but for many people it is an easier feeling to experience than to take action on the issue that is causing the resentment.

Consider John again. Why doesn’t he just tell Sandra that her lateness is affecting him? There are many reasons for this-and in some situations he has expressed to Sandra how he is feeling. But there are deeper issues.

In counselling with John I began to explore the roots of his resentment. John said that he grew up in a very conservative household. “In my home feelings were just not expressed” he says.  “My Dad would often say why even talk about feelings-he was a “just get on with it” sort of guy”.

“So I grew up avoiding any feelings” John added. “We didn’t even have any conflict in my family. We were taught not to hurt others-and that even raising issues might hurt other people. It is not healthy, I know. And I do it with Sandra-and I know that it is affecting our relationship.”

For John (and for many other people) the feeling of resentment offers an illusion of control. We believe that we can control the situation that we are in by rehashing the issue in our mind that we are resentful about. We may even think that we will eventually achieve the elusive prize of justice-or that we can finally be recognized as “right.” But in reality we are just hurting ourselves. As Carrie Fischer states, we are drinking poison that we have created and waiting for the other person to die.

Resentment almost always hurts us more than the person we resent. But there is good news! We can become free of resentment’s relationship poison. How? By learning new behaviours and approaches to events that are leading to our resentment and practicing better responses-either by ourselves or with our partner. Sometimes this is best done in with the help of a professional counsellor. But we can also do it ourselves. We can and will stop obsessing over the injustices (perceived or real) of the past. We can more forward together.

6 Ways To Turn Resentment Around In Your Relationship

6 Ways To Turn Resentment Around In A Relationship

“Anger, resentment and jealousy doesn’t change the heart of others– it only changes yours.”

 Shannon L. Alder

1. Choose Acceptance

Acceptance is a powerful position to have on any event that has happened. The famous serenity prayer, used in many 12 step therapeutic programmes, begins as follows:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

In this prayer the word “God” may be replaced by any sense of a higher power.

Not to be confused with surrender or denial, when it comes to resentment acceptance is equally empowering. By accepting the situations that have led to our resentment we take huge steps towards understanding and conquering this resentment.

After working with clients over many years, I find the following beliefs to be most powerful in overcoming resentment:

Belief 1: Resentment is a negative state of mind-it is not useful for me to maintain my resentment

Belief 2: You cannot change the past. No matter how often you use resentment to replay old dramas, the outcome will never change.

Belief 3: It’s common for people feeling resentment to mentally punish present partners for the sins of past partners. You can choose not to do this.

Belief 4: You cannot control others, not even those who have hurt or rejected you.

Four Top Beliefs For Overcoming Resentment In A Relationship

2. Appreciate yourself!

Resentment is nothing more than the illusion of strength, power, or control. By choosing resentment, we are not validating our best selves. This means we are not bringing our best selves to the relationship. Instead of choosing resentment, choose to bring your best self to the relationship.

Some people I have worked with find it useful to make lists in which their best selves show. Start your list with something like: “I’m willing to own up to past mistakes, forgive myself, and move on”. Include all aspects of yourself that you like best!

3. Communicate Your Feelings

As Mark Sichel has said, resentment is the mental replaying of a feeling or action that has made us angry. We can replay this situation in a negative spiral over and over again.

One way out of this spiral is to take action. In relationships this often means to communicate to your partner your feelings about the event or events that is leading to your resentment.

For people like John who are not used to communicating their feelings this can be a hugely brave and courageous step. It also one that can lead to valuable growth opportunities-both individually and for the relationship.

When communicating your feelings it is best to:

  • describe the situation that is leading to your resentment (without blaming your partner)
  • explain your feelings about the situation,
  • suggest what you would like differently from your partner, and
  • include the benefits from your relationship if things were to change.

For example, John may choose to say to Sandra something like:

“When we go out together you are often late. This makes me worried that people will judge us when we arrive, or afraid that I won’t be able to find a carpark in time. This stresses me out and means that I do not enjoy the evening with you as much as I would like to. It would be great if you could try to get ready on time (or even early) as I’d be much more relaxed and nice to be with!”

In this communication John is focussing on expressing his feelings to Sandra (and not blaming her for the situation). While this type of communication may not solve the problem all of the time, it can lead to more constructive and useful discussions about the issue that is causing the resentment. After all, Sandra may see the situation from a completely different perspective!

4. Create an Amnesty Ritual

Resentment is a powerful emotion and sometimes the steps described above may not make much difference to the level of resentment that you feel.

For example, you and your partner may have communicated about the issue-but it has made no difference. Or you have become even more frustrated or resentful!

In these cases there’s still no reason for you—the partner holding onto the poison of resentment—to not find a way to productively deal with it. You can help yourself to do this by creating an amnesty ritual to help you let go of the resentment. You may do this by processes such as:

  • write the issue that is causing you resentment on a piece of paper, and burn it
  • write a contract with yourself, saying that whenever the resentful thoughts come into your head, you will let them go immediately
  • do some silly action, such as turn around in a circle, every time the resentment becomes strong

5. Forgive or (Deliberately) Forget

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

-Lewis B. Smedes

Forgiveness is a powerful feeling-and one that can set you free as much as the person you are forgiving. Forgive wherever, whenever, and whomever you can.

This applies especially in a relationship. After all, nobody is perfect. While John is focusing on Sandra’s faults, is he thinking about his own? Does he realise that he is late sometimes as well, or that he tends to be critical of others whereas Sandra is always kind and generous to others? Perhaps she feels a little resentful about this?

It is all too easy to focus on others faults and not to focus on ourselves. By forgiving others we are saying that there are more important things in life that the events that are causing our resentment. We can choose to forgive and move on-and even deliberately forget if we need to!

6. Ask For Help

Resentment can create an impasse in any relationship-a brick wall that slowly gets bigger and bigger until both partners feel very distant from each other. As a relationship counsellor I use a variety of techniques to help couples get past issues that are causing them resentment. Often couples are not able to do this without professional help-just as I would not try to fix my car without professional help!

Seeking help for issues of resentment allows couples to move on in more loving and caring ways. If you are experiencing resentment towards your partner don’t wait until it is too late-get help now!

7 Effective Ways to Improve Communication In Your Relationship


Every relationship has its tough moments. These moments don’t necessarily mean you no longer love each other. Many times common issues in relationships (such as what to spend money on, how to parent the children effectively, whose turn it is to do the housework, and so on) aren’t to blame either. Many couples struggle simply because they have not learned effective ways to communicate with each other.

Consider John and Tracey. Married for 7 years and with 3 children under 5, John and Tracey find that they fight just about all of the time-mostly over even little things. “It’s been almost a year” Tracey told me, “since we really sat down and talked. All John does now when he gets home is go to the couch and watch TV. He says it’s because he’s exhausted from work and that I nag him all the time, but I don’t know what else to do. When he get’s home I’m exhausted too from looking after our children-I need rest too. I guess sometimes I do nag him about some of the smaller issues, but we shouldn’t have to fight about everything. It’s not why we got married in the first place.”

John and Tracey are typical of many couples. Over time it is easy for communication levels to drop in a relationship. Tensions can build up. Arguments, and especially uncontrolled anger, abuse or violence stifle good communication. Some couples may not even start with good communication skills. Some people are brought up in homes where their parents did not have talk about their problems, or if they did, they did not do so in front of their children. Some people’s parents model arguing all the time. Other people’s parents may not have argued at all.

For all of these reasons it is not realistic to expect couples to naturally have good communication skills. The good news is that these skills can be learned. Almost anyone can improve their communication skills in a relationship-and this can help couples such as John and Tracey navigate the toughest or relationship times.

Effective communication can:

  • Build higher levels of trust
  • Develop deeper understanding between both partners
  • Help partners connect with each other
  • Enable couples to work out solutions to common relationship problems
  • Avoid problems being too large in the first place
  • Help you develop knowledge, love and trust in your partner

With a solid foundation of good communication, relationship obstacles usually don’t appear so discouraging. When you feel confident in your ability to talk effectively with your partner, you become a better problem-solver. Think about the couples you know who regularly work together on improving communication. They also usually work on improving their relationship (such as by spending time together, thinking about each other’s hopes, wishes and desires, doing daily acts of consideration for each other, and so on). There is so much to communicate about communication. Let’s begin this important, ongoing conversation:

7 Effective Ways to Improve the Communication In Your Relationship

1. Enhance Your Listening Skills

Of all the communication skills that I teach to couples, good listening is perhaps the most important. Unfortunately it is also a difficult skill to master, especially in the heat of an argument. However good listening skills can help couples avoid arguments in the first place.

There are many good articles on effective listening skills (also called “active listening). For examples of two such articles, click here or here.  While active listening is a skill that is more complex than many people think, some basic elements of active listening include:

  • Maintain eye contact with your partner
  • Don’t interrupt!
  • Avoid distractions
  • Be aware of body language and gestures
  • Listen to the emotional content of what your partner is saying, not just the information he or she is conveying
  • Ask your partner “open” questions (questions that require longer answers, such as “What did you do today?”)
  • Avoid “closed” questions (questions that have a “yes” or a “no” answer)
  • Summarise or reflect back to your partner what you have heard them say
  • Avoid taking over the conversation (when you are listening, you are not talking!)
  • Don’t argue!

2. Understand Power Dynamics

Your personal interactions don’t exist in a vacuum. The society that shaped us plays a role in everything we do. Therefore, we must take this reality into account. For example, using the couple already discussed, John works as a foreman on a construction site-sometimes overseeing up to 20 men who are working for him. He is used to giving orders and getting things done as fast as possible. He also works mostly with men who are like him.

When John comes home and Tracey starts to talk with him about a problem or issue-John will often just try to solve her problem-like he would at work. He doesn’t understand why Tracey doesn’t find this useful-in fact she says to him all the time that he just needs to listen to her-she can solve her own problems once she has got everything out that she needs to talk about.

This is one example where men and women are socialised differently in society. Men tend to be socialised as problem solvers and women as nurturers-aware of their own and other people’s feelings. So when men and women talk there are often problems. This isn’t the fault of either party-just an unfortunate aspect of the culture we have grown up in!

3. Respect Boundaries

Here’s a basic example. Let’s say that when John comes home one day he clearly states a need for alone time. Tracey should respect that boundary-just as John should respect a boundary Tracey may state, such as when she on days when she is exhausted and she really needs him to help with the children.

In a healthy relationship, both people must be able to declare their needs-and have that need respected. This especially applies to when good communication is being lost and an argument is starting to develop. Either party should be able to say that they don’t want this argument to continue. Often taking a quick “Time-Out” in these situations can allow emotions to calm down and for more rational and useful conversation to take place.

7-Effective-Ways-to-Improve-Communication-In-Your-Relationship4. Learn How to Apologize

We all mess up at times. You may have hurt your partner’s feelings. His or her expectations weren’t met. Perhaps you broke a promise or forgot something important to your partner. Rather than hope that your partner forgets about this event or trying to explain your reasons for what you did, a much more powerful step is to take full responsibility for your behavior.

This often begins with an authentic, sincere apology. This can be particularly difficult for men who are socialised to believe that admitting responsibility for something or apologising for something is a sign of weakness. But in almost all cases it is exactly the opposite-a sign of maturity and strength.

As with active listening, learning to apologise for mistakes we have made is a skill that can be learned. There are many articles on how to apologize effectively-such as this article or this. However, a productive apology requires you to:

  • Express regret
  • Hold yourself responsible (dont blame anyone else!)
  • Avoid justifying your actions
  • Offer to make amends (such as make up for the event or do something special for your partner)
  • Promise to make up for it and not let it happen again (this often requires taking action-not just saying words).

5. Avoid Passive Aggression

Passive aggressive behaviour is common in relationships where one or both members of the couple may be avoiding saying what they really think. People who engage in passive aggressive behaviour tend to express negative thoughts in indirect ways, rather than stating them directly to the person concerned.

Signs of passive-aggressive behaviour include:

  • Saying one thing, but knowing you won’t do it
  • Hostile humour, such as criticism, sarcasm or put-downs
  • Sulking or withholding affection
  • Saying things like “Fine, whatever”, or trying to brush people off
  • Making the other person feel guilty about things you have done
  • Pretending to be helpless in a situation
  • Gossiping about people behind their back
  • Blaming others for things that are your fault

If you find yourself engaging in any of this behaviour, it’s time to check yourself. Commit to more honest and straightforward interaction with your partner. You may need to make a specific time to talk with him or her about the issue that is bothering you.

6. Practice Radical Honesty

Sometimes the most basic step (such as talking to your partner about something that is on your mind) can be the most challenging. Saying what you really think or feel can be scary. You may be afraid that simply saying what is on your mind may lead to an argument with your partner. It often feels simpler to push down thoughts or emotions rather than risk a fight. Letting things simmer, however, can lead to distance in a relationship or to the passive aggression we have just discussed.

This is where the concept of “radical honesty” can come into play. You and your partner can choose to commit to being more open. Honesty in a relationship-provided it is not designed to hurt the other person is almost always beneficial. Remembering this and choosing to tell your partner what is on your mind is often exactly what your relationship needs at the time.

One step to make this process of “radical honesty” easier for people is to agree on a warning. Before stating a tough opinion, tell your partner you’re about to engage in radical honesty. This prepares them and can make it easier for them to hear what you are saying without them getting angry or defensive. It also provides a chance for them to set a boundary. They can declare then that they’re not ready for it. In this case you both should remain committed to the process of radical honesty and choose a better time for you both to talk.

7. Commit to the Process

Communication is not a destination. Instead it is a process of constant improvement. What may work for you and your partner to communicate better now may not work as well in a week or a year time. Instead good communication is a relationship is a journey. Commit to the journey. You get to improve yourself, of course. But you also get to strengthen your relationship. No one ever said it’d be easy but the rewards are so worth it!


7 Ways to Conquer Jealousy and Rescue Your Relationship


“You can be the moon and still be jealous of the stars.”- Gary Allan

“I’ve never admitted this to anyone, but I know my jealousy is pretty bad.”

Jonathan sat nervously in his chair. It was his second session with me-but now he was beginning to open up.

“It doesn’t even make sense when I think about it” Jonathan continued. “After all I cheated on my last partner with Tracey-not her. But now I can’t get the thoughts out of my mind-what if Tracey finds someone better than me. Someone better looking or richer. I couldn’t stand losing her, but I know I’m pushing her away. I know I need to stop-but I don’t know how.”

Of all the relationships issues I encounter, strong jealousy is one of the most difficult to help people change. While we may all feel jealous to some extent, when feelings of jealousy take a person over they can become all-consuming. For some people it is difficult to go even 10 minutes away from their partner with thinking where he or she is or what they are doing. But the extremely controlling nature of these thoughts can easily destroy relationships-creating in the jealous partner the exact scenario that they were most afraid of.

jealous coupleWhat Is Jealousy?

Jealousy is a very common feeling experienced by both men and women.

As with all feelings, jealousy can play both positive and negative roles. For example, jealousy can play a positive role by preserving social bonds and assisting to bond people together, especially in new relationships.

More commonly however, jealousy is a negative experience for people. It makes people possessive and suspicious. It can lead to mistrust in relationships, demanding your partner tell you where he or she is all the time. It can lead people to stop their partner going out or forcing them to break bonds with members of the opposite sex that they have been friends with for years. It can corrode otherwise good relationship quickly-and people often feel powerless to change its influence.

Even though jealousy is a natural feeling it should always be controlled-if it gets out of control it can easily put a huge barrier between you and your partner-putting your relationship in real danger.

Where Jealousy Comes From:

At the root of jealousy is usually a fear of loss. For most people this is the fear of loss of a loved one or a relationship. But it could also be about fearing other losses-such as losing face, losing respect or losing self-esteem. Whatever it is we fear to lose, this fear makes us insecure. The insecurity, in turn, can easily lead to jealousy.

With Jonathan for example, he had seen how upset his ex-partner (Sandra) was when left her for Tracey. He had also experienced relationship losses in the past. And although he didn’t want to admit it, being in relationship with Tracey was scary for him. She was attractive, interesting and intelligent, and sometimes Jonathan wondered why Tracey was with him. What did he have that other men did not have? Jonathan wasn’t sure-but he was sure that he didn’t want to have to find out. He was petrified of Tracey telling him one day that it was over.

One key to addressing jealousy is to understand its roots. Whenever we feel the beginnings of jealousy it is essential that we contemplate the emotions behind these jealous feelings. These feelings may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Guilt
  • Insecurity
  • Inferiority
  • Anger
  • Resentment
  • Distrust
  • Suspicion

By acknowledging these feelings jealousy often loses its power. We are beginning to take responsibility for our emotional self-something that men in particular can struggle with. And we can use the following techniques for dealing with the remaining jealousy we are feeling-always remembering that underneath the jealousy will be other feelings (such as the fear of loss) that we may need to get in touch with. Seeking help from a professional counsellor is often the best way to do this.

7 Ways to Fearlessly Address Jealousy

1. Think through your emotions

As mentioned above, a major key to conquering jealousy is coming to terms with the emotions that created it. Dedicate time to think about this. Think about what feelings may be “underneath’ your jealousy. Is it feelings of inadequacy? Do you need to improve your self-confidence? Are you scared of losing your partner because this has happened to you in the past? Do you need to address past issues (such as a past partner leaving you)?
One way to help you think through these emotions is to keep a journal. Try to really understand the feelings you are experiencing. Ask yourself: What am I feeling and why? Once you answer this question, ask yourself again, why am I feeling this way? Keep going until you run out of answers!

If you prefer, you can make drawings or charts to keep track of what you feel and when. Or you can measure your feelings of jealousy on a scale. What causes it to increase? Or decrease? Throughout this going process, monitor how your body responds and reacts.

2. Believe Your Partner

The vast majority of people that I see who experience strong jealousy know in their rational mind that they partner is trustworthy. They know that their jealousy in their problem-and nothing to do with their partner’s behaviour.

In these cases, you may need to tell yourself over and over again that the jealousy you experience is to do with you-not your partner. The more you tell yourself this the more likely you are to believe it. And while it can take time for your brain to fully realise that your partner is fully trustworthy, over time this does really happen.

3. Work On Your Relationship

For some people, jealousy can be used as a powerful trigger to help them think about their relationship and identify areas of the relationship that can be improved. For example, after talking more with Jonathan, we identified that despite being scared to death of losing Tracey, he was not actually doing much to build their relationship together.

To help him change this, we used jealousy as a signal. Each time he started to feel jealous, I asked him to think of one thing he could do to start to improve his relationship with Tracey. For example, he started to use his jealousy to remind him plan date nights out with Tracey. Each time he started to feel jealous, instead of harassing Tracey about where she was or what she was doing, he would think about his date night plans. This significantly reduced the amount of jealousy he was feeling-and also made the experience of jealousy much more pleasant!

7 Ways to Conquer Jealousy and Rescue Your Relationship

4. Separate feelings from behaviors

Although it can be difficult, here’s where you cut yourself a break. As with all emotions, there’s a huge difference between experiencing jealousy and acting on it. Learn to realise that just because you are feeling jealous-you don’t need to act on it. Ideally you can even use jealousy to motivate you to perform a positive action, such as in item 3 above.

You can also consult your journal to understand and predict triggers. Learn to cultivate relaxation techniques. Embrace mantras such as: “I recognize these feelings of jealousy but I feel no need to act on them.” or “I don’t need to act on jealousy-I can think of something else!”. Remember to take credit for the progress you’re making!

5. Contemplate the worst-case scenario

Jealousy already has your imagination working overtime. Everywhere you look, you see reasons to feel fear. What if you really gave your imagination a workout? What if you contemplated the worst-case scenario? Although it may be difficult, consider the thought that your loved one really is planning to break up with you. Think about what your life be like if you were without the person you think you couldn’t live without? If you think that there would be a massive hole in your life, work on fixing that hole while your partner is in your life. Realize that your happiness cannot depend upon another person-it is always up to you to feel happy in yourself!

6. Work On Yourself

Why do you fear your loved one will leave you for someone else? The answer may involve a lack of self-esteem or self-confidence. Therefore, the fear-based jealousy that threatens to poison your relationship may be best challenged by a self-assessment. Get out that journal again and start making lists. For example, things you like about yourself, things you want to work on, what you bring to your relationship, compliments your partner regularly gives you, and so on.

For some people this may be difficult and I have certainly worked with people who have struggled to think of almost anything positive about themselves. If this is the case, then this is the real problem-not the jealousy. Remember again that it is not up to anyone else to make you happy (or even to feel good about yourself). It is up to you to learn to feel this way. You may even want to open up to your partner to let him or her know this is how you feel and you could work on this together.

Seeing a professional counsellor may also be a great option to help with issues of self-esteem or confidence!

7. Seek support

Feelings of jealousy can be all-consuming and very hard for people to change by themselves. Working with a professional counsellor can help guide you through the rough waters of jealousy. Consider asking for help and take the steps you need to take to understand your jealousy and rescue your relationship. This particularly applies to men, for whom asking for help can be challenging.

If you would like to conquer jealousy and rescue your relationship, please contact me.

Relationship Counselling in Auckland: A Complete Guide

Relationship Counselling in Auckland: The Complete Guide

All relationships go through hard times.

No matter how long you have been together problems will arise. Work pressure may mean that you spend less time with your partner. Your children may be taking all your time and energy. You and your partner may not be talking as much as you used to. Maybe you don’t talk at all.

It is important to realize that relationship problems don’t always fix themselves. You can’t always just hope for the best. Maybe you know that your relationship is struggling. Maybe anger, resentment, trust issues or communication problems are building up in your relationship. Maybe you know that without professional help your relationship is in serious trouble.

The decision to get relationship counselling is a brave one. It is a decision that many couples benefit from. Some of these couples had little hope for their relationship. Some had even given up on their relationship-biding their time before choosing to separate.

I have written this article to help you choose a relationship counsellor in Auckland. If you are struggling in your relationship I urge you to give relationship counselling a try. Most couples have little to lose-except the endless arguments or constant distance that keeps them unhappy. And they have the world to gain-including finding the happiness and connection that they used to feel together.

Who Am I?

My name is Alastair Duhs. I am a relationship counsellor based in Takapuna, Auckland.

For the last 17 years I have seen hundreds of couples who have been facing a wide variety of relationship issues. These include:

  • communication issues
  • a lack of intimacy in their relationship
  • loss of trust after an affair
  • issues of anger, abuse and violence
  • jealousy
  • work stress
  • and many more.

It is my belief that many of the skills for creating a happy, healthy and loving relationship are easy to learn. However many of us have not had this training. We may have been bought up by parents who constantly argued with each other. Or maybe our parents didn’t argue to all. As a result we may fear conflict-leading to other relationship issues.

Whatever issue couples are facing relationship counselling can help. I personally have seen hundreds of my clients completely transform their relationship. These couples have learned to:

  • communicate better
  • resolve conflict more effectively
  • manage issues of anger
  • regain trust and confidence in each other after an affair
  • increase their levels of intimacy and closeness
  • understand each other more-including learning about each other’s hopes, dreams, plans and goals for their lives

Over the years, I believe that I have seen a total of 7-8 counsellors. Without any shred of exaggeration, my experience with Alastair was by far the best. He was extremely helpful and he really truly did change my situation at the time completely into a positive direction. I have recommended him to many people since. I will never forget what he did for me, and all I need to do is think about him and it renews my faith in people and that they can care and make a difference and things can change.

Past Client, 2015


(Note: Click on the links below to go to the section that is most relevant to you).

Can I Help?

Questions? Need Help? Please contact me to find out anything more about Relationship Counselling in Auckland.

Contact Alastair Now

What Is Relationship Counselling?


Relationship counselling can mean many things. Churches, charities, private counsellors and even government departments all carry out relationship counselling. According to Wikipedia, relationship counselling is:

“the process of counselling the parties of a human relationship in an effort to recognize, and to better manage or reconcile, troublesome differences and repeating patterns of stress upon the relationship. The relationship involved may be between members of a family or a couple (see also family therapy), employees or employers in a workplace, or between a professional and a client.

In other words, relationship counselling is the process of helping two people in a relationship build a better relationship with each other.

What Happens in Relationship Counselling?


Relationship counselling can be conducted in many ways. The following however is a typical description of most relationship counselling processes.

Most relationship counsellors start the first counselling session by asking each person what bought them to counselling (or a similar question). However even simple questions such as “What bought you here today?” or “How can I help you?” may not bring simple answers-as many couples are unhappy for years before coming to relationship counselling. It can be hard to summarize these years in a few simple sentences!

Once the counsellor has an understanding of the problems the couple are facing he or she will start to help the couple overcome these problems. This can be done in many ways, including:

  • encouraging each person to talk more about their issues in the relationship
  • helping each person understand their partners perspective
  • assisting the couple to develop better communication techniques
  • assisting the couple to move on from difficult events (such as one person having an affair)
  • assisting each person to speak about concerns, thoughts or worries they have not shared with their partner
  • teaching basic relationship skills (including communication exercises or anger management techniques)
  • helping the couple to develop closeness and intimacy
  • helping the couple to develop a shared vision of their relationship together

Some of these discussions can be difficult for the couple to have. It is the role of the relationship counsellor to keep these discussions productive and to make sure both partners are fully heard. By talking together in deep and powerful ways the couple can heal wounds from the past and create a happy, healthy and more loving relationship.

How Do I Know If I Need Relationship Counselling?


Many couples wait years before addressing important relationship problems. By this time the problem has become complex-often affecting every part of the couples life. Couples who seek relationship counselling early are usually able to resolve relationship issues far more quickly than couples who have waited months or years to seek help.

Every relationship has specific areas that relationship counselling will help. Some common signs that a couple would benefit from relationship counselling include:

  • you are talking to your partner far less than normal
  • most of the conversation between you and your partner is negative
  • your partner gets angry when you mention things you dislike
  • your partner no longer feels like a friend to you
  • you touch your partner less
  • your sex-life is dissatisfying or non-existent
  • you (or your partner) are contemplating having an affair
  • you (or your partner) has actually had an affair
  • you are being financially unfaithful to your partner-hiding money or not telling him or her about significant spending
  • you and your partner prefer to spend time away from each other-rather than together
  • you argue a lot with your partner

Top 10 Signs that You Need Relationship Counselling

Do People Do Relationship Counselling Individually Or Together?


Couples usually attend relationship counselling together. This ensures that both partners are able to speak and listen to their partner directly. They are also able to work together to improve their relationship.

At times a relationship counsellor may decide it is best to see couples individually. Some counsellors do this on the first relationship counselling session. Individual sessions allow each person to speak about their relationship without judgment or response from the other partner. These sessions also help the counsellor assess if there are other issues (such as alcohol or drug addictions, domestic violence or mental health issues) that may make relationship counselling unsuitable.

Other times issues a person may raise issues in relationship counselling that are more suitable to address individually. This may include situations where one person has anger management issues or the need to address childhood abuse or trauma.

Where Do I Find a Good Relationship Counsellor in Auckland?

There are many highly skilled and qualified relationship counsellors practicing throughout Auckland. Below is a list of some of them-arranged by geography. If you would like further details about any of these counsellors or a recommendation of which counsellor may suit you, please contact me.

North Shore, Auckland is a relationship counselling practice based in Takapuna, Auckland-run by myself. I specialise in helping couples create happy, healthy and loving relationships. In addition to providing relationship counselling I have had over 20 years experience running anger management programmes and can help couples resolve issue of anger, abuse or violence extremely rapidly.

To find out more about visit my website or phone me on 021 137 0228.

Shore Therapy

Shore Therapy is a psychotherapy and counselling practice based in Browns Bay, Auckland. Shore Therapy offers individual and couples counselling and offers a choice of three counsellors, psychotherapists or psychologists to see.

To find out more about Shore Therapy visit their website or phone (09) 478 9223.

Central Auckland

Relate Counselling

Relate Counselling is a specialist marriage and relationship counselling practice based in Ponsonby, Auckland. They offer a range of services for couples including communication coaching, new relationship coaching and sex and intimacy coaching.

To find out more about Relate Counselling visit their website or phone 027 4101 102.

Suzi Wallis

Suzi Wallis is a counsellor and family therapist located in Ellerslie, Auckland. She offers a range of services for couples, including generalised couple and marriage counselling as well as divorce and separation coaching.

To find out more about Suzi Wallis visit her website or phone 021 870 576.

West Auckland

Mary Farrell

Mary Farrell is a psychotherapist and counsellor who has offices in Mt Eden and Titirangi. Mary has had over 25 years experience in relationship and couples counselling and specialises in helping partners communicate honestly and openly, understand each other fully and resolve conflict.

To find out more about Mary Farrell visit her website or phone (09) 817 4878.

Angelika Schuster

Angelika Schuster a psychotherapist and counsellor who has offices in Henderson and Devonport. Angelika provides a range of services including couples counselling and seeks to walk alongside couples to assist them to face the challenges their lives present. This enables couples to feel more in control, have more satisfying relationships and lead a more fulfilling life.

To find out more about Angelika Schuster visit her website or phone 021 129 6372.

East Auckland

Howick Counselling Services

Howick Counselling Services is a group practice consisting of 8 counsellors and psychotherapists. They provide a range of services, including couples counselling. Their mission is to enhance the quality of life of people by providing a range of professional counselling services in a supportive and caring environment.

To find out more about Howick Counselling Services visit their website or phone (09) 533 4453.

Caroline Williams

Caroline Williams is an experienced counsellor located in Howick, Auckland. Caroline provides a range of services to couples, including assisting them to create more connection and understanding in their current relationships or start intimate relationships without ‘baggage”.

To find out more about Caroline Williams visit her website or phone 021 070 6343.

South Auckland

South City Counselling

South City Counselling is a counselling practice run by William Garden and located in Takanini, Auckland. William provides a range of services to clients, including relationship counselling and assists couples to work together to resolve their issues in the most efficient and effective manner.

To find out more about South City Counselling visit William’s website or phone 027 450 0488.

Claire Thompson

Claire Thompson is a counsellor and mediator with offices in Howick, Takanini, Waiuku, Pukekohe and Auckland City. Claire provides a range of services to clients, including helping couples to get the communication and vitality flowing again. She also helps prepare couples for upcoming relationship commitments to ensure they start their relationship on a good footing.

To find out more about Claire Thomspon visit her website or phone 021 430 440.

Can I Help?

Questions? Need Help? Please contact me to find out anything more about Relationship Counselling in Auckland.

Contact Alastair Now

Does Relationship Counselling Work?


In general relationship counselling is very effective in helping couples improve their relationships.

As an example of this, research conducted by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists found that:

  • 98% of couples who attended couples therapy sessions said that they received good or excellent couples therapy
  • 97% of these couples said they got the help they needed, and
  • 93% said they had more effective tools for dealing with their problems.

These results are consistent with my experience. Almost all couples that I see improve how they relate to each other-including learning to listen to each other better, understanding each other more and reducing the number of arguments that they have.

What Issues Does Relationship Counselling Help With?


Relationship counselling can help couples with a wide range of issues. These include:

  • reducing arguments in a relationship
  • improving communication between couples
  • developing greater closeness between couples
  • assisting couples to boost their sex life
  • helping couples move on after an affair
  • dealing with parenting differences
  • learning basic anger management issues
  • working out shared directions and goals for a relationship
  • and many more issues.


How Long Does Relationship Counselling Take?


Relationship counselling can take as little as one session-or many sessions that are spend over many years.

The final length of relationship counselling is determined by many factors, such as:

  • how committed both partners are to counselling
  • what issues the couple is facing
  • how deeply the couple want to work with these issues
  • the skill (and therapeutic orientation) of the therapist
  • the level of insight and motivation of both partners

As an indication, most couples I see experience significant improvements in their relationship in 3-5 sessions. After these sessions some couples decide that they have addressed the main issue that they came to see me for.

Other couples choose to continue counselling after 3-5 sessions. These are generally the couples who are committed to creating a better relationship with each other. Some continue to see me for many months or years.

Regardless of the final length of time couples see me for, almost all couples I see experience significant improvements in their relationship in less than 8 sessions.

What Are The Best Books On Building A Good Relationship?


There are many very good books on how to build a good relationship. The top two books that I recommend to clients are:

5 Love Languages

The 5 Love Languages-The Secret to Love that Lasts (Gary Chapman)

This is a classic book that describes a simple, but powerful idea. We all experience love in different ways. In this book Gary Chapman describes these 5 ways (spending quality time with your partner, receiving words of encouragement, receiving gifts, receiving acts of service, and physical touch). Many of my clients have used this idea to powerfully transform their relationship.

why marriages succeed or fail

Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last (John Gottman)

John Gottman is one of the best known relationship counsellors in the world. Why Marriages Succeed or Fail is a book full of practical tips for how to create a better relationship-including not avoiding arguments and why more sex does not necessarily improve relationships. As with “The 5 Love Languages” many of my clients have used this book to improve their relationship.

The following 2 lists also contain many books that will help you build a happy, healthy and loving relationship:


How Much Does Relationship Counselling Cost?


Relationship counselling across Auckland can cost anything from $100 to $250 an hour.

In general there is little correlation between the cost of relationship counselling and its effectiveness. It is best to choose an experienced relationship counsellor that you relate to and think will be able to help you.

What Happens If My Partner Does Not Want To Come To Relationship Counselling?


If your partner does not want to come to counselling there are still some good options for you to consider. For example, you can:

  • choose to seek relationship counselling by yourself. This can help you work on behaviour that you want to change in your relationship (such as dealing with anger or developing ways to respond to your partner differently). You may also want to assess if your relationship is right for you.
  • talk to your partner about your relationship away from a counsellor. While this is often not as effective as attending relationship counselling you may be able to make progress in your relationship without professional help. Some couples I have seen for instance, make regular coffee dates with each other to discuss their relationship.
  • try other methods to improve your relationship. This may include trying new activities together or changing habits and routines (such as watching less television or playng fewer computer games!) that may be limiting the relationship.

While the above options are good, relationship counselling is often the fastest way to achieve meaningful improvement in a relationship.

How Do I Choose The Best Relationship Counsellor For Me?


As discussed, there are many good relationship counsellors in Auckland.

However when choosing the right relationship counsellor for you it is useful to keep some of the following factors in mind:

  • it is usually best if your relationship counsellor is a specialist relationship counsellor. Many counsellors in Auckland counsel people with a wide range of issues. Relationship counselling is one of the many services that they offer. In my opinion these counsellors are unlikely to be as effective in providing relationship counselling as specialist relationship counsellors
  • make sure you feel understood and respected by your relationship counsellor. For example, I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation with potential clients to ensure that they feel comfortable with me before we begin counselling together
  • your relationship counsellor should be optimistic and positive about the chance of your relationship succeeding. If he or she is not optimistic about your relationship, it makes it harder for you to be
  • choose a counsellor that you relate to. In general the best way to assess this is through the counsellors website. Does he or she look like a person you would get on with? Does he or she have interests in common? Does the counsellor seem approachable and friendly?

If you would like help choosing a relationship counsellor based in Auckland then please contact me. I will try to recommend the relationship counsellor that I think will be the best match for you.

Alastair Duhs is a specialist relationship counsellor who has had almost twenty years experience helping couples create happier, healthier and more loving relationships. For any questions or enquiries please contact Alastair on 021 137 0228 or via