One in two couples who turned to marriage counsellors last month identified financial pressures as being the root cause of their relationship breakdowns.
Therapists said the number of couples who sought professional help in January was up 15% on the previous year, with over half of last month’s clients falling out over overspending at Christmas and mounting bills.
Experts at Relationships Ireland said financial worries are increasingly leading to problems with couples’ sex lives, with male partners in particular too stressed to perform.
But Tony Moore, therapist with the charity, said men who are suffering from sexual anxiety are increasingly willing to take the initiative and seek help.
He said: “January is always the busiest month of the year, but last month was particularly busy, up roughly 15% and the busiest start to the year we’ve had in a long time.
“I noticed a lot more men coming in on their own, many who were very stressed and suffering personal confidence issues. In a lot of the cases, about 50% of them, financial worries are affecting the relationships, whether that’s unemployment, the struggle to get a permanent job, negative equity, houses facing repossession or all the bills that are coming in.
“It’s particularly daunting in January and people in this situation will often look at the year ahead and wonder how they are possibly going to get through it.
Financial stress also makes it difficult for men to be intimate with their partner, because they lose their sense of self-worth and confidence.”
But Mr Moore said problems in relationships are getting resolved more quickly, because bickering couples are more willing to turn to therapists as soon as relationships start to hit the rocks.
He said: “People are coming to us a lot more quickly than they used to do and not leaving it until things turn really toxic in the relationship.
We’re now seeing more and more couples just a few weeks after problems start to emerge, whereas in the past couples used to wait years, and by that stage it’s often too late to help.”
Meanwhile, Relationships Ireland has encouraged gay couples who are intending to tie the knot to sign up to a specially-tailored pre-marital course, the first of its kind in the country for people in same-sex relationships.
The charity is rolling out a one-to-one marriage preparation course for same-sex couples in the coming weeks in response to growing interest from the gay community in their services.
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