Demand for pre-marriage courses from the Catholic agency ACCORD has seen a significant increase despite a devastating cut in Government funding.
Numbers attending the pre-marriage courses have steadily risen in recent years with an 8.5% increase across the country last year and a 15.6% in Dublin.
Bishop Denis Nulty, President of ACCORD, welcomed the “huge increase” and told The Irish Catholic “the biggest advocate for a marriage preparation course are couples themselves who tell their friends and their peers”.
He said the withdrawal of funding from Tusla in 2015 was “a big blow” but “any threat is an opportunity and you have to look and see what exactly do you provide and can we resource it better from our own resources, and we have had to do that”.
He said: “Tusla continues to generously fund marriage counselling and that is so important for people who need to avail of ACCORD marriage care services” and “because of the importance of the family for the life and wellbeing of society it is essential that both ACCORD and the State continue to work with each other to provide the necessary supports to strengthen marriage and the family.”
17,104 people attending sacramental marriage preparation courses offered by Accord in 2016, up from 15,774 in 2015.
Attendance at marriage counselling services has decreased from 33,970 in 2015 to 30,666 in 2016. The main problems that couples present with continues to be ‘not listening/ignoring’ (60%), ‘anxiety/stress’ (58%) and ‘criticisms/insults’ (53%).
There has been an increase in problems around both phone/texting (22%) and use of the internet (19%).
“Sadly technology can cause huge damage to relationships,” Bishop Nulty said. “What was said in that tweet; the picture that was shared on social media; the reactive immediate response on Snapchat can do enormous damage to a relationship, to trust and to the individual themselves.”