Friday 9 December 2016

When broken couples can't move on

Published 29/03/2011 | 05:00

Michael* (36), a marketing executive, and Sarah (34), an unemployed architect, live in a one-bedroom apartment in Dublin.

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Michael bought the property in 2005. The couple married in 2008 but their relationship disintegrated when Sarah learned Michael had been having an affair with a colleague last year.

Since then, Michael sleeps on the futon on the living room and the pair schedule their evenings so they are apart as much as possible.

Sarah has no savings and can't afford to rent another property. Michael's salary was cut by 20% in the last year.

Sarah believes their relationship can't be salvaged and feels trapped. She is too proud to ask for assistance from her parents, who tend to be frugal, and although she wants a divorce she can't imagine how she will be able to afford it.



  • Stephen (47) and Moira (40) -- both teachers -- have been married for 12 years. They have three children under the age of 10 and live near a modest-sized midlands town.


After a series of ill-advised property investments, the couple is in negative equity to the tune of €300,000. They first experienced financial worries in 2008 when they were unable to sell apartments they had bought in the town and the stress had a damaging effect on their relationship.

Now they sleep in separate rooms and are thankful that their home has five rooms. But Moira finds the arrangement oppressive and wants Stephen to move out. He argues that they don't have enough money to do that.



  • John (34) and Pauline (29) bought a house in Cork city in 2008 just before the bubble burst. They planned to get married last year, but their relationship struggled after John experienced depression when he lost his manufacturing job.


He has now moved back into his parents' house as he couldn't afford to rent another property.

Pauline is now having to pay the bulk of the mortgage, but is struggling to make ends meet on her teaching salary. During the Tiger years she had boosted her income by offering grinds, but this "nixer" effectively dried up in the recession.

The couple hope that time living apart will help them heal their relationship.

Meanwhile, John is having to get used to living with his parents for the first time since he was a teenager.

*All names have been changed. JOHN MEAGHER

Irish Independent

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