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Men and relationships

Addressing emotional challenges in men can be a difficult journey; we’re here to provide guidance, understanding, and support for a brighter, healthier, and more connected future.

This page primarily addresses men’s experiences, but the insights and information we share here can be valuable for individuals of any gender. We’re confident that everyone will find this content helpful in understanding and navigating the inherent constraints built into men’s emotional well-being. By addressing these constraints, we can foster healthier relationships and create a more supportive environment for everyone.

A personal message from Michael Myerscough

Founder of The Reconnection Institute

Okay, so this isn’t exactly a secret. It’s very rare that a man comes to couples therapy unless he’s being dragged along. Whilst I don’t think anyone is thrilled to show up and divulge the inner workings of their marriage to a stranger, it does seem to be a more excruciating experience for men. It goes against our most basic conditioning to seek support which is incredibly sad because it is that same conditioning that will sometimes kill us. Many men learn the strong lesson of ‘do not show weakness!’ as they grow up and yet, in counselling, we are expected to ‘tell all’ to a stranger. I understand why it is hard.

Couples therapy is not all that attractive of a proposition for many of us men and generally things get to a pretty dire point before we’re willing to show up asking for help. I get it. As someone who still struggles to ask for directions when I’m looking for a restaurant, I don’t expect you to be excited about the prospect of getting help with your marriage.

Despite this, it’s only in your best interests to seek this support and assistance as the real cost of divorce is so much bigger than most people suspect. If you have kids, they’re probably going to get raised by another guy, the financial strain that you’re feeling is about to double and, statistically, as a man, your next marriage will likely be worse. It doesn’t sound too great, does it?

We provide a lifeline to those couples in crisis and a safe, supportive environment for them to recover from the unimaginable pain of infidelity.

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Living life in a bunker is no kind of life.

You may or may not remember it, but there was a popular ‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus’ theory years ago about how men need to retreat into their ‘cave’ when feeling upset or threatened. As men, we sometimes feel a need to disappear into the garage, shed, gym or maybe even the pub. What that theory neglected to address was the real issue in that the man would have generally tried to be heard or understood earlier in the relationship, but, when it didn’t go so well, he disappeared into safety in his version of a bunker.

Men’s life expectancy is still shockingly lower than women’s. Suicide rates among young men are alarmingly high. Alcohol and substance abuse continue to devastate lives and relationships. We are all starting to wake up to the fact that it’s time to face these issues head-on and provide men with the support they need. According to an article in the UK Observer UK and a report from the World Health Organisation, it’s only getting worse.

  • Men’s Life Expectancy: Men live on average six years less than women, according to the World Health Organization.
  • Relationship Problems: A staggering 70% of divorces are initiated by women, indicating that men often fail at close relationships.
  • Behavioural Issues: A whopping 90% of children with behaviour problems in school are boys.
  • Kids Helpline Reports: Here in Australia the Kids Helpline Insights Report 2018 revealed that only one in five contacts the service received were from males. Even though four times as many girls call as boys, when boys do call, they tend to report more severe problems.
  • Alcohol Abuse: Six million men drink more than the recommended weekly limit of 21 units, compared to only one million women who exceed their recommended limit of 14 units.
  • Incarceration Rates: Men make up 95% of the prison population, despite constituting only half of the general population.
  • Suicide Rates: The leading cause of death for men between ages 12 and 60 is suicide, with a 71% increase in young male suicide rates in the UK over the last 10 years.

Can we all just agree that these problems are real and dig into this a little? Men are less likely than women to seek help for mental health problems in many countries, leading to higher rates of alcohol and substance abuse, as well as self-destructive behaviours. Women have higher rates of diagnosis for conditions such as anxiety and depression because they are willing to admit to struggling whereas, in comparison, men, rarely ask for help. There’s a reason why the leading cause of death in young men is suicide—it’s directly linked to this deep-seated, socially conditioned belief that men should never show vulnerability or admit to a need for help. The culture of toxic masculinity cuts both ways and often leads men to bottling up their feelings, suppressing their emotions, and turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse or other self-destructive behaviours.

This conditioning starts at a very young age with boys being taught to tough it out on the sports field, suppress their tears, and toughen up whenever they show any sign of weakness. It’s a harmful cycle that perpetuates the idea that seeking help is a sign of weakness, rather than a sign of strength and resilience.

The suicide statistics are especially painful. I remember a client, Matt, sitting on my couch having lost his best friend to suicide after only saying the night before that he was fine. How would you feel in his position? This issue is real, and it is highly dangerous. Do everything in your power to play a role in minimising those numbers and please try to do a better job of asking your friends if they are okay. ‘She’ll be right mate’ and ‘Suck it up Princess’ are phrases that kill men. If anything, we need to soften the fork up which is the absolute opposite of everything you’ve been taught. You might not know it, but you are playing with live ammunition here.

I have no doubt that at times you have tried to be open and honest but somehow your point wasn’t heard and eventually it became easier to just ‘wall off’. Men have become masters at just keeping their head down and waiting for the storm to pass. Unfortunately, it makes for an infuriating relationship for the people living on the other side of that wall. Stonewalling or emotional withdrawal will always hurt a relationship over time and, let’s face it, living in a bunker sucks.

When it comes to a relationship, there are five losing strategies that are guaranteed to cause you both heartache and pain. I won’t wait for you to work out what they are and what mistakes you’re making. The method I work with is the most directive therapy you’re ever going to find. I will tell you what isn’t working, why it isn’t ever going to work and then I will teach you how to put the winning strategies into place.

I’m of the opinion that if your therapist knows what you ‘should’ be doing differently, it’s borderline abusive not to tell you. That said, most therapists will assume they are doing you a favour allowing you to work it out for yourself. I disagree as, if you were able to do that, you’d have done it years ago. If you want to be better at anything, you need a coach much more than you need a fan.

Success Stories

Over the last 20 years we've tried so many different ways to improve our relationship. And truth be told I've hated them all. Michael's 2 day Couples Therapy Retreat was different. Very different. He understands that as a guy you just need to tell me what to do and then get me to practice it over and over again until I've got it. At points I felt like he drilled details into me, incredibly though I started using the skills as if they were natural for me. As a result his approach was so much more helpful than any other I've tried. 6 months later, my wife and I are still enjoying the benefits that come from using the new skills Michael has given us. I think we actually love each other more now than when we first met. And - I don't say this lightly - this is a miracle because before working with Michael I was so unhappy I'd decided my best bet was to simply swallow the cost of divorce. It still makes me shudder now to think how close I came to losing my family. If you are considering doing the 2 day intensive, just do it, it gets the job done, fast.

Arthur and Claire*

We met Michael, at a point where our marriage was at rock bottom and I was really struggling with how it was going. I wanted out, but something kept me wanting to make it work. We had seen marriage counsellors, before, but Michael, was different. He has a great knack of getting to the root of the issue, using humor and a lot of sensitivity; he understands your boundaries and knows when to cross them. Needless to say, after three sessions, my wife and I were back in bed, making love (after seven years of no sex); our communication is improving, thanks to the tools, Michael offers and I finally feel like my wife, loves me and I love her - beyond the use of lip service. Michael, is a champion and I highly recommend his services. Thanks again mate!

Phillipa and Roger*

Michael knows exactly how to get a couple out of trouble and is fearless. Before working with Michael I was very sceptical about therapy for couples and did not believe that any outsider could fully understand me, my partner or our situation well enough to be of help. At best, I expected clichés and a quick fix that would wear out after a short time. Michael is different and not at all what I had imagined in my cynical mind. He knows exactly how to get a couple out of trouble and is fearless, original and talented in his approach. Michael has provided permanent solutions that have eliminated the stony silences and my dark moods of the past. My home is once again a place of light , laughter and love – a sanctuary that I genuinely return to with excitement and anticipation. I can never thank Michael enough – he has saved me from myself and saved my relationship with my best friend and lover.

Chris Turner*Company Director

*Names have of course been changed.

For the partner: this is how you get him to come for help

In my experience, the partner who has betrayed the other is often looking to move through the recovery process quickly and will do whatever it takes to heal the rupture they’ve caused. For them, there is often a sense of relief that the secret is out and that they can finally come clean. All of the sneaking and running around is finally over, and they finally get to stop being the ‘cheating spouse.’ This desire to just move forward can be the cause of years of resentment, frustration and ongoing punishment if handled badly. It’s no surprise that that ‘I said I was sorry; I don’t understand what else I can do!’ just isn’t going to cut it for anyone, ever.

When you are ready to give up the pain, distance and all of that discomfort, please get in touch or book in for a session now.

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Key questions answered

Do you think men not knowing how to communicate is the problem?

There is a myth that men don’t know how to communicate which is simply inaccurate. If you’ve ever watched a team of guys build a road or a house, it’s clear that they can communicate very clearly in ways they all understand. It’s just not the same as how women communicate. There’s another myth that says men don’t have feelings which is also simply nonsense. Men have a vast array of feelings that they were sadly taught, usually by the age of three, that it was shameful to display most of them.

You would be amazed if I told you the number of times a couple will show up to my practice with the woman being adamant that the real issue is her partner’s inability to communicate. I often spend an hour or more with her whilst she tells me all about his raging deficiencies and then turn to him expecting some kind of mute given everything that’s been said about him. This has never once been true in all my years in the business, however what is true is that he’s often just given up trying to get heard.

If you’re able to look for it, you’ll see that men will always offer you a glimpse into what’s really going on for them. It’s almost as though they test the waters to work out whether it’s really safe enough to be fully honest. If, as his partner, you fail to listen, get critical or become defensive, it’s easy to understand why he retreats back into his cave. Luckily, I can teach both of you how to get past this particular losing strategy very quickly.

One other pet peeve of mine is just how often a woman insists that all she needs is for him to be a little more vulnerable and yet, when he is, she stomps all over him. Sometimes I’m amazed that women find men’s withdrawal in any way confusing. My job is to teach both of you how to speak in such a way that you’ll be heard and feel understood. I will teach you how to stop arguing and how to start talking. If all you learned from me was how to make a request instead of a complaint, your lives would immediately improve.

Seriously, you think I’ll get something out of this process?

If I didn’t believe that I could help you, I simply wouldn’t be doing this as it would just be pointless and frustrating, I’m a guy, I like results too. Experience has taught me that there is just no way this mess that the two of you are in is all your fault. I can, however, state with some confidence that it’s highly likely that you’re not doing yourself any favours on the communication or participation front. The great news is that the method I’m trained in does not require you to go through long hours of soul searching or self-disclosure. Like I said, I just want to get the job done too.

I’m more of a coach than a therapist. I’ll tell you exactly how you are shooting yourself in the foot and, more importantly, I’ll tell you what to do that will get you what you want. Most couples take 7 years to get help. I hate to say it, but that’s generally because the guy involved ignores his partners complaints and demands until she starts moving down a very convincing path to leaving him. That’s, on average, at least 3 years of absolute misery for both of you where your only salvation could easily be sports and beer (Okay, that’s a generalisation, but the point is that it won’t be your wife’s loving arms).  You are worth so much more than that, even if you can’t see it right now.

So having my wife angry and pissed off with me isn’t compulsory?

If I ask a guy how he feels about his wife being so unhappy, he will always reply that he feels like ‘sh1t’. If she’s not happy, you’re not happy. That is a given! Men like to be good at stuff and the great news is that what I teach has rules and strategies so communication can become better for the both of you. It also has structured processes and techniques that we as men can relate to as there is a defined direction to travel in. It is not some wide open ‘feeling fest’ that just leaves you uncomfortable and wondering when the session will be over as it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

For the partner: This is how you get him to come for help

The simplest way of putting this is that you must really mean it when you tell him it’s not good enough. If you are waiting for him to feel as though getting help would be a good idea, you’re in for years of pain and misery. In 95 out of 100 cases, it is the woman finally INSISTING that they get help that causes him to agree. The other 5% are when he’s been caught doing something that he knows is a deal breaker and he’s desperate to get things back on track. Generally, it’s the very real threat that either something changes, or you are going to take the level of misery in the home to a whole new level. If there are children involved, it’s important for him to know that he will rarely be having breakfast with them in the near future if he doesn’t agree to seek help.

Until it reaches that kind of level, he is fully capable of filtering it out as some kind of background noise that could easily be perceived as your general dissatisfaction with him. Men often live with the sense that nothing they do will ever be good enough for you and, sadly, they continue to adapt to this over the years. Whilst this is such a terrible waste of what is actually possible between the two of you, the tragedy is this is the life that most couples are living.

As men, we are always looking for solutions to our problems. My approach allows men to feel at ease and helps them to gain confidence to show up in the relationship as a result. Where appropriate, I ask couples for a commitment of just a few months of work, never years. Men appreciate the sense of momentum and getting the job done as the end of their discomfort is always in sight.

When you are ready to give up the pain, distance and all of that discomfort, please get in touch or book in for a session now.