Internet behind rise in marriage woes

MORE marriages are breaking down because of financial and gambling worries and an alarming rise in the use of internet porn and cyber sex.

Accord, the Catholic Marriage Care Service, also said 15% of its clients are facing huge difficulties because spouses were bringing extra work home or turning to pornography, online gambling and computer games.

The marriage advisory service also revealed demand for services increased by 10% during 2009, with 40,000 counselling sessions delivered.

Ruth Barror, Accord national director, said while a breakdown in communication is most common, a variety of other difficulties are emerging during the economic downturn.

“Stress levels have gone up and there is more depression among people,” she said. “Financial problems are very much to the fore and a number of people are suffering from internet problems like pornography, cyber sex and gambling. They are distractions in a relationship, a form of escapism.”

Liam Lally, acting director of counselling, revealed problems surrounding internet use jumped dramatically in recent years.

“Some are using the internet for genuine work purposes but with people bringing work home, particularly for international companies, they are not available for family life,” said Mr Lally.

“Online gambling is now quite easy to do at home and people are also getting addicted to playing games. Pornography is also a problem. It is linked with a form of infidelity because a person is getting sexual gratification from the internet instead of having a relationship with a spouse. When a partner finds out they feel very let down. They take it as a partner rejecting them and turning to cyber sex.”

Accord delivered more than 40,000 hours of counselling to 4,700 couples and 1,800 individuals in 2009 — an 11% increase on the previous year.

Since 2007, the number of clients with financial problems increased by 71%, while issues around the use of the internet increased by 87.5%. Rates of depression and stress in clients were up 14% and 12% respectively.

But communication, stress and sexual intimacy were the most common problems in a relationship.

Mr Lally said the rise in counsellors’ workload is because people can’t afford to separate and couples, who may have previously gone to a private counsellor, will go to Accord as its charges relate to ability to pay.

Ms Barror said: “It has been suggested that because people can’t sell their homes they are having to stay together and maybe they are looking at their relationship again.”

Ms Barror added that couples need to be there for each other to have a healthy marriage.

“They need to give each other and themselves time and they have to have fun together, that’s something people forget very quickly,” she continued.

“They also need to show appreciation for what they do for one another and talk through difficulties together by communicating.”

Of the 30,000 couples who chose to get married in a Catholic Church in Ireland in the last two years, about 70% attended marriage preparation services with Accord.

It encouraged couples to invest in their relationships as their single greatest asset.

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