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Fifth of Northern Ireland people raised in broken home, survey reveals

By Joanne Fleming

Published 03/09/2015

Money appears to place the greatest strain on the relationships between parents
Money appears to place the greatest strain on the relationships between parents

One in five people in Northern Ireland grew up in a home where their parents had broken up, a new survey has found.

And money worries are the biggest strain on relationships here.

The study of more than 6,000 people in the UK lifted the lid on some of the most personal areas of our lives, with money worries the top concern for 57% of families in Northern Ireland.

This largely equates to the UK-wide figures, which also placed financial concerns at the top of the list for families.

Those with children are far more likely to cite money worries as one of the biggest strains on their relationships (61%) compared to those without (47%).

The demands of running a home and maintaining a work-life balance were the next biggest worries, with parents that have children aged five or under found to be particularly affected.

Published by the charities Relate, Relationships Scotland and Marriage Care, The Way We Are Now 2015 is one of the largest studies of its kind, providing a window into the nation’s relationships — from couple and family life to sex, friendships and how we feel about our colleagues and bosses.

Other statistics relating to Northern Ireland found that 12% of people living here said they have no close friends.

Nearly one in five people living in Northern Ireland (23%) also said they had experienced the breakdown of their parents’ relationship.

Just 35% of people living here said that sex life and physical attraction are among the three most important factors in a relationship.

Relate NI said the survey results on money worries for families tied in with their work, with family finances frequently discussed in the counselling rooms.

One in three parents of under-fives (32%) said childcare and bringing up children was one of the top three strains on relationships.

In addition, 37% of those who were in full or part-time employment agreed that work interferes with home life, personal life and caring responsibilities, compared to 27% of workers without children.

Dave Murphy, chief executive at the Relate NI charity, said: “This study provides a unique insight into the state of the nation’s relationships.

“It shows that, despite the improving economic climate, money worries still loom large for many — particularly those with children.

“Relationships are the lifeblood of a thriving society, meaning that supporting strong relationships should be everybody’s business.

“That is why we are calling for the Government to robustly implement its ‘Family Test’, forcing policymakers to think about the impact of new policies on families like those who took part in our study.

“We also suggest that anyone worried about the impact of financial pressures on their relationships opens up about what’s happening and gets some support if needed.”

Relate’s services are provided to more than 3,000 people in Northern Ireland annually through 10 centres in Belfast, Londonderry, Portadown, Newry, Coleraine, Ballymena, Bangor, Cookstown, Dungannon and Irvinestown.

To see the full The Way We Are Now 2015 report visit

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