Internet blamed for marriage strain
Internet use and text messaging is tearing a growing number of couples apart, according claims.
A record 43,627 hours of marriage counselling hours were provided to 6,145 couples last year by Accord, which warned men and women to invest as much time in their relationships as they do in their home, job or hobbies.
Stress, a breakdown in communication, difficulties with intimacy and financial problems remain the main problems raised, the Catholic marriage care service said. However, it revealed internet misuse was the fastest growing area of concern in wedlock - up by 20% last year and by 125% over the last three years.
Ruth Barror, national director, said text messaging or spending time on the internet - from constantly checking emails to using porn and gambling websites - is detrimental.
"It can be a distraction from a relationship," she said. "It's so easy to spend hours on the internet doing other things instead of being in the relationship with your partner. Texting is also emerging as an issue, with people receiving texts and one partner wondering what the text is and the other not saying."
Accord said demand in marriage counselling rose by 8% last year as couples gave greater recognition to the benefits of their union.
Figures also showed fewer couples were considering separation, many due to a drop of income, and instead planned to work through difficulties.
Bishop Christopher Jones, president of Accord, said the recession has exercised enormous pressure on marriages and families.
"It is a tragedy that many people invest so much of their trust and energy in material things, while at the same time taking their relationships for granted," he said. "Relationships cannot exist as static unions, they need to be nurtured and grown in love."
Elsewhere, Accord said numbers attending pre-marriage courses fell due to an expected fall in the number of weddings and the growing numbers of alternative providers of marriage preparation courses.