Author: Janine Bird
Page: /counsellors/janine-bird
Active Rester

Difference versus Enmeshment in relationship: The “active rester” versus the “passive rester”.

One of the things I pay attention to in couples is something we call “Enmeshment”.

Enmeshment is where one or both parties become or believe they have to become like the other to be acceptable and to have a happy relationship. It can start off with the well-meaning ideas of compromise and making the other person happy. However, enmeshment is really unhealthy for the individual and for the relationship.

Take Joanne and Luke (not their real names). Luke is a busy guy. He likes to have lot’s of things going on keeping him challenged and filling his time. He works hard in his job, runs and organises kids’ clubs and has hobbies he likes to pursue. Growing up he received a strong message in his family that doing nothing was being lazy. Active resting was the only acceptable and “right” way.

Joanne on the other hand is an artist and like most artists, she needs to do nothing to allow the creativity to flow. However, over the many years of her marriage to Luke, she has got the strong message that doing nothing is not ok. He makes comments to her and their girls that are often critical and judging.

Author: Janine Bird
Page: /counsellors/janine-bird
Pre Nuptual Agreement

Let’s face it, a prenup is not the most romantic thing to be thinking about when you are in the throes of love's magical chemical, but you should be thinking and talking about it and here’s why.

Nobody enters a committed relationship with the intention for things to go pear-shaped and end up hating each other or screwing each other over. However, when relationships don’t work out it can end up in a terrible and very expensive conflict that leaves family property lawyers rubbing their hands together ordering their next Audi and you with a rapidly shrinking bank account and growing desperation.

You may know 100% that you would never screw your partner over if the relationship didn’t work out, but you cannot predict the circumstance that cause the breakdown, therefore you cannot predict how you may react and cope with what has happened. Would you feel like being as fair, for instance, if your partner had an affair while you were pregnant, perhaps struggling to afford the baby's new cot, yet found out he’d been taking his bit on the side out to fancy restaurants or on tropical holidays that he told you were work trips?

My partner would never do that” I hear you protest. I hope not, but it does happen, and you can bet that person did not think their partner would do something like that either, or they wouldn’t have committed to a relationship with them. My point is not to put a dampener on love and relationship, my point is to say that you cannot predict the future so better to future proof to minimise the damage IF things do go wrong.

Author: Janine Bird
Page: /counsellors/janine-bird

It’s been said we fall in love with 3 people in our lifetime. Each one for a specific reason.Thee loves

First Love:

This love often happens at a young age. You eventually grow apart or call it quits over silly things. When you get older you may look back and think it was not love. But the truth is, it was. It was love for what you knew love to be.

Remember: There are different depths of love.

Second Love:

The hard one. You get hurt in this one. This love teaches us lessons and makes us stronger. This love includes great pain, lies, betrayal, abuse, drama, and damage. But this is the one where we grow. We realise what we love about love and what we don’t love about love.

Now, we know the differences between good and bad humans. Now, we become closed, careful, cautious, and considerate.

We know exactly what we want and don’t want.

Third Love:

This one comes blindly. No warning. It creeps on you silently. You don’t go looking for this love. It comes to you. You can put up any wall you want, it will be broken down. You’ll find yourself caring about that person without trying. They look nothing like your usual crush types, but you get lost in their eyes daily. You see beauty in their imperfections. You hide nothing from them.

You want marriage and family with them. You thank the universe for them. You truly love them.

Often people say to me that they feel embarrassed and ashamed about being divorced. They see it as their failure or that there must be something wrong with them if they have been divorced more than once. The truth is that relationships are the greatest learning forums and we only fail if we fail to learn and grow from what we have been through.

Sometimes we need to repeat an experience before we learn from it. Sometimes it takes us a long time to get the lesson, sometimes it's quick.

Question is, do you give up if your lessons have brought too much pain and suffering or do you brave into one more try, with your new understanding and tools tucked under your belt, in the hope of achieving that loving, safe, fulfilling relationship we all crave with another who craves the same?

Author: Janine Bird
Page: /counsellors/janine-bird
Janine Skydive

Many moons ago, I did a sky dive over Lake Taupo. I thought it would be thrilling, give me a huge sense of achievement and pride in myself for stepping out of my comfort zone. I thought I would see if I had the courage within me to brave the leap, because if I could do that then surely, I could push through any fearful situation that I faced in the future.

As I sat in the doorway of the plane, feet dangling over the edge, parachute strapped to my back, hands gripping the door frame, all I felt was absolute terror, major anxiety and the overwhelming belief that my parachute would tangle up and I would plummet to my death.

I knew that there could be a thrilling, exciting experience ahead of me that would make me feel proud of myself, happier and I’d be able to see a greater more beautiful landscape, but the fear of plummeting to my death if the parachute didn't open, that feeling of terror that I made a terrible mistake and there is no going back, no recovering from it, kept my nails dug into the door frame of the plane saying over and over "After three, one, two, three JUMP!" my bum still stuck to the edge of the plane, nails dug into the frame clinging for dear life to what was safe.

Leaving a relationship can feel a lot like jumping out of a plane.

The fear of not knowing if you will be ok, if you have made a mistake, if they are a right match and you just haven’t tried hard enough. You may worry (or have been told by your partner) you are too idealistic about relationships or too needy. You may fear it will wipe out your future dreams of family and companionship. You may wonder if you still have enough self-esteem and self-respect left to believe you can find love again, support yourself and your kids, or even worse you may fear that leaving will literally kill you (especially if you are in a domestic abuse situation). You’re sat on the edge of your relationship wondering if you should jump and you have no certainty leaving is going to be any better than staying.

So, what do you do?

Well, you can jump on google and get an abundance of websites with titles like “Ten signs you’re in an toxic relationship”, “15 reason’s s/he is not good for you”, “5 ways to spot if you are being abused”, etc. Or, you could go to more scientifically support sources like the Gottman Institute and learn about things that make relationships healthy and happy, and things that will break the relationship. These will all fill your mind with lots of “opinions” and information that often leaves you just as confused as when you started.

So, what to do?

I am going to make the radical suggestion that you already know in your gut if the relationship is working for you or not.

Yes, you may love them to your bones, and will miss them as much as your lungs would miss air to breath, but many years of experience has taught me that love is not enough to make a relationship work unless it is actioned daily in ways that both people need it.

That requires being able to have brave conversations, which in turn require the skills and tools to have them without escalation into conflicts.

If one or both parties are not willing to engage in conversations and actions that strengthen the relationship, build safety, security and intimacy, then there is not much hope that anything will change in the future, and it is probably time to clear the space for a partner who matches more closely your relationship goals, efforts, expectations, values and dreams.

Two people have to meet each other equally in the effort they put into the relationship and in the love they express.

So, you’re probably wondering, did I eventually jump? Yes, I jumped both literally (yep, that’s me in the photo) and metaphorically.

Note: If you are planning on jumping - Sky dives are always a little easier if they are a Tandem dive – Gather friends and family around for support, to be alongside you, support you and be a sounding board. (Ask them to not give opinions unless you ask for them, just help you clarify your thoughts.)

Ask for help, especially if you end up single parenting. You will need a shoulder to cry on, someone to hold you. Brene Brown makes it clear, asking for help is one of the ways we build trust with our friends and family. If we are vulnerable with them, they can be with us.


Are you on the same page or even in the same book?

Get clear on what you want and need from relationship. There are no right or wrong answers here, you need what you need. However, be conscious of the ideas and expectations you may have about relationship that come from society. Relationships take many forms, the only form that matters is what works for the two of you (or more of you if polyamory or polyandry is your thing).

Regularly check in with each other:

Once a week, put some time aside to sit face on, making eye contact and share with each other:

  1. Some ways I felt loved by you this week are…
  2. Some ways I expressed my love for you this week are…
  3. One way I felt hurt by you this week was…. (if there is anything), what I needed or need from you is…
  4. One thing I would love more of is….

Get the Oxytocin flowing:

Every day give each other at least a six second hug, or better still, passionately kiss for at least six seconds.

Author: Janine Bird
Page: /counsellors/janine-bird
Black Lives Matter Rally

This weekend I attended the second Black Lives Matter protest in Auckland with my 14 year old daughter who dragged along a few of her friends to share her passion for justice and activism.

She is my little activist. She identifies as gay and wants to live in a world were acceptance of everyone is the norm. She inspires me to be better and do better.

As a counselling agency we need to do more than just condemn abuse, sexism, racism, homophobia or prejudice of any kind, we need to engage with our clients and staff who experience any form of oppression, abuse or discrimination about their experience and take their feedback on how we can improve ourselves individually and as an agency.

When we get things wrong, it will be unintentionally, but it means we need to be corrected, educated and make the change they want to see. So, please let us know. We can only grow if you let us know where we have room for improvement.

I encourage you all to engage with and listen to people you see as different, those with different view points, political beliefs, lifestyles. Learn to be curious and try to understand. Speak up when you see bullying, discrimination, abuse of power, injustice, etc. Because bad things only continue to happen because good people do nothing. Sitting on the fence, staying silent is not an option if you want a better world.

It's also our job to educate our audience on social media. You may or may not agree with our stand and that's ok, you are free to follow or not, but we will stand up, speak up and support where support is needed.

Be kind to each other, life is hard enough.

Author: John Evangelista
Page: counsellors/john-evangelista
Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

I remember reading a book on "midlife crisis" in which the author compared a man (or woman) approaching midlife to Humpty Dumpty. Indeed, "the man approaching midlife has strange and difficult times ahead of him". (Jim Conway, Men in Midlife Crisis)

Many have attempted to describe "midlife crisis" as a transition of identity and self-confidence typically with some people 45–64 years old. Not everyone experiences a "midlife crisis". And it does not necessarily happen in middle age. In my counselling practice, I would normally treat it as part of "life transitions" which might occur at any time in one’s adult life.