FOUR out of five couples who turn to professional help for marriage problems are blaming Facebook as one of the major factors contributing to the breakdown in their relationships.
Counsellors have noted a significant surge in the number of couples who have cited a partner's addiction to popular social media sites and their mobiles as a major reason for breaking up.
Therapists at leading charity Relationships Ireland say as many as 80 per cent of marriages they are trying to save have fallen apart partly because of a growing trend of couples spending more time texting and posting status updates than talking to one another.
Therapist Tony Moore said the effect on relationships can be devastating, leaving the innocent party feeling betrayed as his or her partner opts to spend time on their smartphone rather than have sex.
He said the victims in a relationship often feel that their 'guilty' partners are being unfaithful and are "having an affair with technology".
Mr Moore said: "It's very much a growing problem and the trouble it causes is really severe. Couples in the home are on their phones and computers the whole time, often when they're sitting together in the same room. It's become an addiction for many people.
"Facebook is the biggest culprit and if people are using it, then they're not talking to their partner.
"It leads to huge problems and creates a distance if one partner is choosing to post Facebook updates rather than being intimate and it makes the other person in the relationship feel angry and rejected.
"It's like having an affair or another relationship with your computer or phone and is a significant contributing factor to a lot of break-ups. Nearly everyone now has a smartphone or a computer, so it's infecting every relationship now in some way."
Mr Moore urged couples to make time to turn off their phones and computers at home to rekindle their relationships and learn to talk to each other again.
He added: "An excessive use of your phone is a symptom of your relationship going nowhere. It's a warning sign that couples need to sit down and do something about their situations, because when they get to me it's often too late."
Meanwhile, therapists at Relationships Ireland have said they are anticipating a surge in demand for their services following fall-outs from the discovery of extra-marital affairs over Valentine's Day.
They said Valentine's Day is the time when adulterers are most likely to get caught red-handed by their suspicious partners.
Mr Moore said evidence of a secret love affair is more likely to have come to light last Friday than on any other day of the year, as thousands of love rats struggled to conceal their double lives from their spouses.
He said: "In as many as seven out of 10 relationships in Ireland, there is some kind of affair or betrayal going on, so the chance of getting caught out is very high, particularly on Valentine's Day.