Friday 22 February 2019

Social media behaviour becoming 'common problem' in Irish marriages

Catholic counselling service to tailor the way it operates to deal with relationship issues arising from mobile technology and social media.

The icons of social media apps, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and WhatsApp, are displayed on a mobile phone screen, in London.
The icons of social media apps, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and WhatsApp, are displayed on a mobile phone screen, in London.

Aoife Moore

The use of social media and technology has become a “common problem” in Irish marriages, suggests new research.

Accord Catholic Marriage Care Service believes constant access to technology has removed the “cooling off” period following a domestic argument.

Research conducted in Maynooth of over 3,000 clients over two years found that both men and women agreed that social media and technology “behaviour” caused difficulties in marriages and relationships.

Accord said it is now tailoring its service to deal with the issue following feedback from couples.

Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin, and president of Accord, said: “Social media is a huge issue. Pope Francis spoke about this at Croke Park and we need to be digitally conscious.

As we shape our marriage preparation courses in the future, we'll be taking this into consideration Bishop Denis McNulty

“We’re dictated by gadgets so being clued-in is important.”

On the lack of a “cooling-off” period he added: “When you send a text, a tweet or a Whatsapp message, there’s no way of pulling it back, and it causes huge heartache for everyone involved.

“As we shape our marriage preparation courses in the future, we’ll be taking this into consideration.

“We have a low divorce rate in Ireland, and I would like to keep it low. I have no doubt people in Ireland still take marriage very seriously.”

16,048 individuals attended its marriage preparation courses across the island of Ireland in 2018, down almost 800 from 2017.

Separately, Accord counsellors provided 24,180 counselling sessions to individuals and couples during 2018 throughout Ireland, north and south. This figure is also lower than 2017, which saw 26,946 people attend counselling.

The bishop attributes some of the drop in figures to couples attending different private counselling services.

Other “common problem areas” from clients attending Accord counselling included unresolved arguments, inappropriate behaviour during arguments and satisfaction with their sexual relationship.

It said 75 per cent of clients whose data was reviewed rated their relationship as improved after counselling.

Press Association

Editors Choice

Also in Life