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Internet and texts tearing couples apart

Internet use and text messaging is tearing a growing number of couples apart.

A record 43,627 hours of marriage counselling hours were provided to 6,145 couples last year by Accord, which warned men and women to invest as much time in their relationships as they do in their home, job or hobbies.

Stress, a breakdown in communication, difficulties with intimacy and financial problems remain the main problems raised, the Catholic marriage care service said.

But it revealed internet misuse was the fastest growing area of concern in wedlock -- up by 20pc last year and by 125pc over the last three years.

Ruth Barror, national director, said text messaging or spending time on the internet -- from constantly checking emails to using porn and gambling websites -- is detrimental.

"It can be a distraction from a relationship," she said.

"It's so easy to spend hours on the internet doing other things instead of being in the relationship with your partner.

"Texting is also emerging as an issue, with people receiving texts and one partner wondering what the text is and the other not saying."

The problem was highlighted last year when TV presenter Vernon Kay apologised for sending racy texts to five women -- including a Page 3 model-- behind the back of celebrity wife Tess Daly.

Accord said demand in marriage counselling rose by 8pc last year.

And the organisation said numbers attending pre-marriage courses fell due to an expected fall in the number of weddings and the growing numbers of alternative providers of marriage preparation courses.

Accord's regional counselling figures were:

•Dublin: 2,487 couples had 18,177 hours of counselling, a 4pc increase in hours delivered.

•West/north-east: 993 couples had 7,729 hours of counselling -- a 31pc rise in couples.

•South-east: 780 couples had 5,276 hours of counselling, both up on previous years.

•South-west: 838 couples and 5,576 counselling hours -- a 20pc rise.

•Midlands: 520 couples, 3,427 hours of counselling.