Ireland’s biggest Catholic marriage counselling organisation has descried the 2011 census divorce figures as a ‘wake-up call’.
Stephen Cummins, Director of Marriage Education at Accord, says they have seen a marked increase in the number of people in Ireland living with crisis marriages.
Cummins blames poor communication and excessive use of social media and online gaming as root causes.
“The same issues always come into the counselling room – lack of good communication. In an age where we’re so easily accessible, the fundamentals are missing,” he said.
“We’ve noticed an increase in the use and abuse of the internet and social media, whereby people are spending hours upon hours online. This leads to suspicion in the relationship. Years ago you had to leave your home to gamble, now it’s all online.”
He added: “Couples and young people are breaking up with each other by text. We’ve lost that care and respect for each other.”
Divorce has been legal in Ireland for almost 17 years when the passing of the Divorce referendum in 1995 lifted the ban.
Accord, which is 50 years in existence this year, has over 60 centres across Ireland where it offers marriage counselling.
Its annual report last year showed it had provided 43,000 hours of counselling – up nine per cent on the previous year.
“It’s very sad to believe that these kinds of numbers exist and that there is an increase,” Cummins said.
“But we have also noticed a trend that people are coming for counselling before they get married. That would never have happened 25 years ago. Divorce affects relationships within the family. That’s the sad part of it. The breakdown of marriage is not necessarily a good thing for society. “
Commenting on the census figures that show divorce has gone up 150 per cent in Ireland in the last five years, he added: “The percentage is big yet the numbers are small but with the same token it’s a wake-up call.”