Love is still in air despite growing pressure on couples
Published 14/02/2014 | 02:30
Financial pressures, stress and poor communications are taking their toll on a growing number of Irish marriages.
Couples are seeking relationship counselling in larger numbers than ever before as they struggle to deal with effects of the recession.
Figures released by ACCORD, the Catholic marriage care service, show that the most common causes of marital trouble are communication difficulties between partners (83pc), followed by anxiety and stress linked to financial difficulties.
Some 72pc of couples who asked for help cited intimacy problems, while 51pc said that depression was a factor.
ACCORD operates 58 centres throughout the island of Ireland and the agency's counselling service gave nearly 51,000 hours in counselling in 2013, which was up from 43,627 in 2010.
President of ACCORD, Bishop of Elphin, Christopher Jones said: "Difficult economic times had put pressure on marriages and family relationships."
According to Mary Johnson, a specialist in counselling with ACCORD, overuse of the internet and social media, while a factor in some relationship difficulties, is not a major contributor to relationship breakdown.
"Overall, about 26pc of couples would identify it (the internet) as problematic in their relationship."
The breakdown across regions show that the northern region, which covers Belfast, Derry, Newry and elsewhere across Northern Ireland, saw a significant rise in demand for counselling. A total of 3,721 hours were given to couples there, up from 3,187 in 2012. Dublin also saw a significant rise – 20,263 up from 19,968.
However, the recession does not appear to be stopping couples walking down the aisle. ACCORD has also reported that demand for marriage preparation courses is on the rise, up 7pc last year.
Some 7,600 couple attended the agency's programme, which provides advice to future brides and grooms on fertility issues as well as how to resolve conflict, and how to communicate.
Coinciding with the launch of ACCORD's figures was a special blessing of engaged couple Helen Young from Rathfarnham and Conor Kavanagh from Harold's Cross, at St Valentine's shrine in Whitefriar Street in Dublin.
Carmelite priest Fr Bernard Murphy sprinkled holy water on the couple in front of the altar where the relics of the world's most famous saint are kept.
Helen and Connor, both 35, first met when they were 15, then went their separate ways and bumped into each other by chance a few years ago in Neary's pub in Dublin. They plan to marry in June.