Increased financial pressures and unemployment, especially among men, affecting married couples – ACCORD

02 May 2009

2 May 2009

Increased financial pressures and unemployment, especially among men, affecting married couples – ACCORD

40% increase in families facing financial problems between 2007 and 2009

New statistics from ACCORD, the Catholic marriage care service, indicate an increase in the number of couples attending marriage counselling as a result of financial pressures and unemployment facing families.

In 2007 3.96% of ACCORD clients were unemployed, with the rate among men slightly higher at 4.4% and women lower at 3.4%.  In 2008 the rate rose to 5.5% amongst clients and this increased for men to 7.5% and to 4% in women.  In the first quarter of 2009 the general rate rose to 7.5%, but amongst men it rose to 11.5% and 4.8% in women.

In 2007 20% of clients identified finances as a problem for their marriage and in 2008 this rose to 25%.  For the first quarter of 2009, this figure has risen to 28%.

Commenting on these figures, Mr John Farrelly, Director of Counselling with ACCORD said “The recession is quickly and deeply affecting marriage and family.  One only has to consider how in the first quarter of 2007 only 4% of males attending our service were unemployed but this has nearly tripled to 11.5% for the first quarter of 2009.

“Financial problems have always increased stress on marriage and relationships.  However, an analysis of current data shows an increase of 40% in this problem between 2007 and 2009.  Crucially, the context of financial stress has changed.  Previously couples worried and argued about keeping up with the demands of the so called ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy.  Issues such as who was in charge of finances in a two income family were to the fore.  However in 2008, and particularly in the first quarter of 2009, among the challenges now facing couples is how the family’s childcare and mortgage costs are to be met.

“Increasing stress brought about by reduced income through wage cuts, higher taxation and the possibility of unemployment are also a cause for concern as this raises the spectre of the repossession of the family home.”

Mr Farrelly concluded “Other common problems cited by clients during ACCORD counselling sessions are:

– Partners being critical of one another, insulting and not listening, 42%
– Sexual and intimacy issues, 26%
– Depression , 16%
– Problems with extended family, 15%
– Infidelity, 14%
– Dissatisfaction with task sharing in the home particularly childcare and housework, 12%
– Alcohol & Drugs, 10%.”

Notes to Editors 

  • ACCORD, the Catholic Marriage Care Service, is an agency of the Irish Bishop’s Conference and is the most geographically widespread provider of services in support of marriage and family in Ireland.  ACCORD has 57 centres countrywide.  All services are confidential and provided based on clients needs as opposed to ability to pay.
  • In 2008 ACCORD provided over 30,000 counselling sessions throughout Ireland.
  • The rate of unemployment amongst men was highest in the following areas:

Tallaght – 26%; Swords – 20%; Newbridge – 23%; Bray – 18%; Tralee – 16%; Ballymun- 15%.

  • Financial difficulties for married couples was highest in the following areas:

Tallaght 28%, Tralee 25%, Newbridge 30%, Monaghan 30%, Limerick 21%, Belfast 26%, Bray 40%.

  • Statistics extracted from data on over 15,000 clients helped by ACCORD in 2007, 2008 and first quarter 2009.
  • Statistics for 2008 indicate that: 66% of clients who sought counselling were married; 13% were cohabiting; 6% were single and 10% were separ ated or divorced.  63% of clients have children whilst 7% of clients have children from a previous relationship.  Half of ACCORD clients were aged between 30 and 40 years old, the average age is 37 for women and 38 for men.


Further information:

Martin Long, Director of Communications 086 172 7678
John Farrelly, Director of Counselling ACCORD 087 2889720