Today I am afraid I found myself frustrated when I watched a TV show here in Ireland which had a respresentative from ACCORD talking about their annual report which has just been published. (ACCORD is an agency of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference which provides a nationwide (60 centres North and South) service to couples preparing for or seeking a deeper commitment within the sacrament of marriage.)
The essence of the interview was about the fact that the Internet is to blame for an increase in the number of problems in marriage.
The Accord Annual report actually has one paragraph in the 52 pages of the annual report referencing this research – you can access a PDF of the Accord Annual Report here.
The statement in the report is under the title of “Presenting problems in the needs assessment of ACCORD clients” which identified that the primary reason people approached ACCORD was for reasons relating to stress (87%) and communication issues (78%). The comment on page 16 of the report is as follows:
Communication difficulties continue to remain very high. There was an increase of 9% in the number of clients listing financial problems as a source of conflict in their relationships and a decrease of 12% in the numbers who were considering separation. While the total number of people listing the internet as a factor in marital difficulties is small, it is growing faster than any other area – an increase of 20% in 2010 and an overall increase of 125% since ACCORD began to compile these statistics in 2007.The internet, like many things in life, can be hugely beneficial or detrimental depending on its use.
ACCORD provide a valuable counselling service to people who are experiencing marital problems – there has been an 8% increase in demand by couples for the agency’s marriage counselling service during 2010. I don’t find their research suprising – in the current economy more people are likely to be reporting financial issues as a result of conflict and fewer people considering separation – probably as they can not afford to do so.
What would be good to see in the report would be if people found the Internet being a help when facing marital difficulties – from researching for assistance to connecting with friends for support.
The TV show commentary was about the fact that people are connecting with others on Twitter, Facebook and Skype and avoiding communicating with their partner. But perhaps that eases the pressure for some people? It would have been good to have seen an alternative point of view in the interview.
You can read a press release on the release of the ACCORD annual report on the the Irish Catholics Bishop’s Conference website – you will also notice that they use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Audioboo and Flickr as part of their online communications – so this must mean that they believe that social networking and social media can be used for positive change.
So my plea for today is a little more balanced reporting in the traditional media when it comes to the serious issue of marital problems which impacts not just the couple involved, but especially their children.