All posts by Howard Todd-Collins

About Howard Todd-Collins

Grad.Dip.Couns.HS, M.Couns.HS, Counsellor/Psychotherapist, Consultant MACA Howard is the director and owner of Men and Relationships Counselling. He passionately believes that given the right space and environment, men open up and talk about their lives in a way that empowers them to take steps to change. He has a strong connection to the growth of men, with over 15 years experience in designing individual and group programs for men and fathers as well as facilitating human relations groups. Go to > and Learn About Our Consultants – What We Do And Why

Valentines Day

Is Valentines Day an accurate measure of love?

Valentines Day can be a mixed experience for some relationships.

Some couples see Valentines Day as an essential ingredient of their romantic and intimate lives.

Accordingly, they plan, organise and manage the day with relative ease and comfort. Indeed, it can enhance their love, intimacy and connection.

However, for other couples it’s more complicated!

Millions of men and women sweat nervously as Valentines Day approaches.

There are thousands of thoughts going through the minds of thousands, probably millions, of men and women.

Possibly,  it’s fair to say, more likely men doing the sweating than women!

Valentines Day

Expressions of love may never be captured in one day.

The pressure of Valentines Day depends how much you get seduced by the commercial hype and your capacity to genuinely express love and romance to your partner as a natural form of communication.

Take the pressure off!

It’s highly likely you already know how to express your love and appreciation of your partner. Think for a moment of:

  • All the things your partner likes
  • The activities they enjoy
  • What makes them smile
  • Their passions

If you don’t know, now is the time to find out!

How do you do love and romance?

Valentines Day doesn’t have to be the one day of the year to show love.

However, how you express your love to your partner is important.

Do you:

  • Tell them ‘I love you” regularly
  • Do stuff for them
  • Buy surprise gifts throughout the year
  • Take them out to dinner, holidays, weekends away
  • Show physical affection
  • Stay in touch throughout the day
  • Compromise your own needs sometimes
  • Make yourself available when they are struggling


This Valentines Day don’t wait another 364 days to let your partner know how you feel about them.

How do you express your love for your partner?

Valentines Day

Does Valentines Day highlight how secure your relationship really is?

There seems to be a myriad of myths and stories as to the true origins of Valentines Day.

Yet in our commercial world, Valentines Day creates all kinds of expectations in terms of expressing love and romance predominantly through gifts and experiences.

Valentines Day may be a good time to go beyond the commercial aspects of relationship satisfaction and delve a little deeper.

How safe and secure is your relationship?

Relationship security is when each partner is able to offer a safe port of call in times of need. Each person provides a secure base where both can explore and develop his or her potential.

Sounds sensible?
Do you turn to your partner for support and comfort in times of distress?

In a committed relationship a secure connection between you and your partner is established and preserved when you BOTH have a lived experience of responsiveness in times of need.

Relationship security changes everything!

When we feel secure in our intimate relationship a deep psychological resource is created.

The power of this sense of security helps to create:

  • Higher relationship quality.
  • Positive emotions.
  • More emotional expression.
  • Constructive ways of dealing with negative emotions.
  • Healthy curiosity and tolerance for uncertainty.
  • Better ways of coping with stress.
  • Physical health benefits such as reduced risk of heart disease, improved immune functioning and ability to cope with pain.

A secure relationship promotes freedom and self-confidence.

If both of you go out into the world feeling stronger, supported, cared for and more confident you are better equipped to deal with the ups and downs of daily life.

This spills over to benefit your children, colleagues and the community.


You can enhance the security in your relationship by supporting your partner to grow in the following ways:

Valentines Day

How has your partner encouraged you to grow and develop?

In what ways do you support your partner’s dreams and aspirations to grow?


Creating safety

The focus of relationship safety and security is heavily shaped by your emotional intelligence. In turn this shapes the depth of emotional intimacy which is how your relationship grows.

In an intimate relationship emotional intelligence is often described as a style of emotional attachment between partners.

Attachment is a deep and lasting emotional bond that connects one person to another.

Your attachment style will have been influenced by your early relationships with your parents, caregivers and subsequent adult partners.

Each and every one of us will have developed our own style of emotional attachment over the years.

This is why couples counselling is so powerful because it explores each partner’s style of attachment and how it supports relationship security.


The way in which you and your partner give each other support and comfort creates safety.

Here are some ways:

Relationship Support

How does your partner give you support, comfort and encouragement?

How do you offer your partner a safe haven in hard times?

On this Valentines Days take some time to reflect on the security and safety of your relationship.


Are you struggling to find answers?

It may be that you’re holding on to hurt or anger and consequently this is getting in the way of moving forward?

In addition, maybe you struggle to see how your partner is attempting to connect with you?

Get some help to unpack some of these blocks to moving forward in your relationship.

Check out our couples page for more info.
 (Adapted from An Emotionally Focused Workbook for Couples. Veronica Kallos-Lilly, Jennifer Fitzgerald)
Toxic Masculinity

How To Transform Toxic Masculinity

Is toxic masculinity creating a crisis for men?

The media seems to be consistently exposing the world of toxic men.

Politicians, entertainers, businessmen and actors are appearing amongst the many men abusing their privilege and power.

These men are acting out in toxic ways including:

  • Harassment and abuse of women
  • Aggressive, bullying tactics during political debate
  • Power and controlling behaviour that dominates work place culture
  • Explicit misogynystic views

Toxic masculinity is not a new term.

According to Wikipedia it is:

“used in the social sciences to describe traditional norms of behaviour among men in contemporary American and European society that are associated with detrimental social and psychological effects”

Sadly, the so called ‘traditional norms’ referred to in the definition above encompasses traditional male attitudes and behaviours such as:

  • Sexual aggression
  • Suppression of emotions, except anger
  • Tough men don’t need to seek help
  • Stoicism

In contrast, there are many good men in the world today who find the behaviours of toxic men abhorrent and shocking.

Therefore, a counter-balance to the negative characteristics of toxic masculinity is an appreciation of what makes a good man.

What is the essence of a good man?

Countless men are searching for more meaningful and authentic lives.

These guys are actively owning and changing their behaviours and attitudes.

However, the voices of these men are rarely heard.

Some time ago a good friend gave me a poem. Her partner penned the following words:
Toxic Masuclinity
About the author – Kym Faehsi is a trained art teacher, a practicing artist with 10 one man exhibitions to his credit, and has a lifetime of creative experience. I’m grateful for his permission to publish such a great piece.

Transforming Toxic Masculinity

The poem captures some important messages of change for some men.
Such as:
  • Be heartfelt
  • Have compassion and flexibility
  • Be able to calm anger
  • Have understanding and grace
  • Nourish, nurture and inspire
  • Learn patience
  • Offer Kindness
  • Be helpful
  • Offer wisdom
  • Be consistent and reliable

Could these be the attitudes and behaviours that transform toxic masculinity?

What do you think is the essence of a good man?