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Editorial: Money remains heart of matter for many stressed-out couples

ST Valentine's Day might not seem the most appropriate occasion for the Catholic Church's advisory service to produce its annual report, which details how so many married couples are striving to cope with stress, depression and conflict. But Accord believes that through counselling and dialogue, couples who are experiencing difficulty in their relationships can be helped to work out their problems.

This is the fourth year that demand for its services has risen, with the agency conducting 51,000 hours of counselling for couples throughout the country.

"We struggle to do our best," says the agency's co-ordinator Harry Casey, who like many others is trying to maintain and even expand services against a backdrop of falling government funding.

It is hard to argue with his contention that if marriage and family is to be a cohesive force in society, every facility should be made available to protect it. There is no doubt that austerity and the money worries cast a long shadow over Irish society and marriage.

"Difficult economic times have put pressure on marriages and family relationships," the Bishop of Elphin, Dr Christopher Jones said at yesterday's launch.

With signs that the national mood is improving and people are at least beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel, maybe this time next year Accord will be able to report an easing of pressures on marriage and family life.

On St Valentine's Day we can only hope so.

Irish Independent