A sixth of all people who contacted the Accord marriage care service last year did so because their marriage was in trouble.
Just over 60,000 people used Accord’s services last year, including 9,233 clients who availed of 46,656 hours of marriage counselling.
A breakdown of the reasons for attending marriage counselling indicated the level of strain many marriages are under — just days after the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) said other figures indicated that the recession had resulted in strained marriages and had worsened relationships between parents and their children.
Those attending Accord marriage counselling sessions were asked for the reasons for seeking help, with more than half claiming criticisms and insults were “highly relevant” to their attendance.
An even higher percentage of respondents, 58%, said being ignored or not listened to by their partner was a major factor in their strained relationship, while 54% rated ‘conflict’ as being of relevance.
Anxiety and stress was rated as highly relevant by 58% of those seeking counselling, while almost half said intimacy issues were present and almost 40% referenced sexual issues.
Financial issues were deemed highly relevant in struggling relationships by almost 38% of those seeking help.
However, while there was a 1.6% increase in the number of people availing of marriage preparation courses last year compared with figures for 2013, the number of marriage counselling hours taken up last year fell by 8.4%.
Other services operated by Accord include the marriage preparation course, 694 of which were delivered to 15,504 people last year.
Accord said more than 6,300 families accessed some of its counselling services last year. Between those families, almost 14,000 children were involved.
A conference being held in Dublin today by the ESRI will use data from the Growing Up in Ireland study to highlight how the recession placed family relationships under enormous strain.
Organiser Richard Layte of Trinity College Dublin said the “squeezed circumstances” experienced by some families was likely to continue in many cases.
“People will bear the scars,” said Prof Layte. “Once the economic strain lifts it might be that people are nicer to each other.
“But it might be that the children’s educational outcomes that were affected by their experiences in the recession, it might be that that is a long-term effect.”
Prof Layte said “patterns of behaviour that get established” in economically strained times can continue even as the economic gloom lifts, with children that had witnessed “repeated open conflict” between parents likely to have suffered psychological distress.
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