Verbal abuse, anxiety, stress cause problems in 80% of marriages

Verbal abuse, anxiety, and stress led to problems in almost 80% of marriages last year while reports of physical violence have decreased, figures show.

Accord, the Catholic marriage care service, which operates 60 centres across the island, said there has been an increase in demand for its two key services — marriage preparation and marriage counselling — in the past year.

Accord delivered more than 50,000 hours of counselling in 2012 — up from 43,627 in 2010. The number of counselling cases in 2010 was 6,185, while this rose to 6,536 last year.

Accord has almost 800 professionally trained volunteers to counsel couples across Ireland.

The key problems highlighted by couples visiting Accord include:

* Levels of anxiety and stress reported by clients decreased marginally from 83% in 2011 to 82% in 2012;

* Reports of communication difficulties were cited as a problem by 78% of couples while not listening/ignoring was cited by 82%;

* 58% of couples rated financial difficulties as a problem;

* There was an increase in levels of emotional abuse reported by clients, from 54% in 2010 to 59% in 2012;

* Levels of depression reported by clients remained the same in 2012 and 2011 at 51%;

* Concerns about separation rose from 52% in 2010 to 58% in 2012;

* The number of clients reporting infidelity rose slightly from 24% in 2010 to 26% in 2012;

* Reports of physical violence in relationships decreased from 19% in 2010 to 14% in 2011 and to 13% in 2012.

Commenting on the figures, the president of the service, Bishop Christopher Jones, urged anybody with marriage or family difficulties to seek support and assistance.

“While an increase in demand for marriage preparation courses is a positive development, Accord figures also indicate an increase in 2012 in demand for our marriage counselling service and, sadly, this tells another story.

“Difficult economic times have put pressure on people and in turn on their marriage and on their family relationships. My key message today is for those who are experiencing difficulty in their marriage and family, Accord exists to assist you to address, at every stage, these fundamental and vital human relationships.”

Bishop Jones launched the figures as he blessed an engaged couple — Holly Asaa from Maynooth, Co Kildare, and John Delaney from Borris-In-Ossory, Co Laois — in the Carmelite Church in Whitefriar St in Dublin.

He said Ireland continues to have a strong tradition of marriage and family.

“Each year large numbers of couples choose to get married and of these a significant majority choose the sacrament of marriage, to get married in the Church. We need to encourage and offer them every possible support,” he said.

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