Sad September as bills and blues hit home

September has proved to be the unhappiest month of the year for married couples, as mounting debt and post-holiday blues combined to put relationships under massive strain.

Sad September as bills and blues hit home

Counsellors from Relationships Ireland noted a 15% increase in demand for their services from the start of last month, with a sharp surge in exasperated couples making last-ditch attempts to save their crumbling marriages.

Tony Moore, a therapist with the nationwide charity, said: “September is usually our busiest period and this year has proved no exception.

“Part of the reason is the fallout from holidays and the return to the routine of going back to work and the kids returning to school.

“Money problems are a huge issue too, particularly at this time of year. Bills are coming in and then there’s all the back-to-school costs and a lot of couples find themselves more and more in debt because of that.

“Financial issues have come into nearly every conversation I’ve had couples recently and for many of them the strain will only increase from now up to the run-up to Christmas.

“We keep getting told the economy is bouncing back, but from what I’ve seen that hasn’t filtered down to the ground and there’s no doubt that couples are feeling the squeeze now more than ever.”

Four out of every five troubled relationships are affected by financial problems, according to relationship experts.

And therapists have observed that marriages tend to be most under threat if the husband or male partner is unemployed.

Mr Moore said: “Men are often defined by their jobs and if they’re out of work they will often feel like failures. This leads to psychological problems and makes it difficult for them to get intimate with their partners.”

However, Mr Moore admitted that many couples could ease their financial burden if they made a few sacrifices.

He said: “Loads of people will say they have no money, but when you actually look at their lifestyle, you soon realise that that’s not the case. For example, a lot of couples I see who complain of financial problems still have expensive smartphones, subscriptions to Sky TV and enjoy nights out. But a lot of them are just unwilling to give them up.”

However, he added: “But there’s no doubt financial problems are still the number one issue in most couples we see. And don’t forget, we only see people when they’re at rock bottom. So there must be many, many more couples out there with similar problems who we don’t know about.”

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