In 1955, the movie The 7 Year Itch was released giving some plausibility to the reality that perhaps after 7 years of marriage, something psychological sets in, and marriages are tested and tired. The feeling of anxiousness or anxiety, or perhaps boredom with marriage after the milestone 7 year mark, the relationship has progressed in many ways. Many couples have started a family by this point, or are wading in financial debt, or become complacent with the relationship to the point that they miss the excitement and passion that comes from the newness of a relationship. Additionally, it can take many people 7 years or so to realize that the idiosyncrasies and annoying habits of their spouse are just too much bear, and therefore begin to have a wandering eye.
Another theory about the 7-year itch stems from some research that shows the human body and mind develops in 7-year increments. It is one theory of human development that says that every 7 years the human body and mind go through major transformational phases. This theory based on antiquated astrology, also suggests that every 7 years or so people begin to shed new light on their future goals and desires and redevelop, or renew old passions. Additionally, as human’s age they often begin to realize their immortality and start questioning their relationship with more scrutiny than they did before.
Interestingly enough, a study out of the Wright State University showed that marriages go through both a 4-year itch, and a 7-year itch. The study indicated that ‘couples often begin their unions with high levels of marital quality, but that it appears to decrease twice. Once at 4 years and then again at 7 years.’ And having children only seemed to experience a more devastating decline in the quality of their marriages.
Apparently, however while there might be some relevancy to the 4 and 7-year itch, studies indicate that most people divorce either at the 3-year mark or around the 12-year mark of a marriage. Obviously, some people may start to experience some unhappiness and dysfunction in the marriage near these key years together, but put off making a definitive decision of divorce for years to come. Perhaps the timing is not right, especially if young children are involved or couples swallow their unhappiness and try to make do with the marriage as best they can fearing the change more than fearing the complacency of a marriage.
Regardless of what studies suggest, or what statistics state there is no real safe zone for a marriage. For a lot of couples, the innuendo of the 7-year itch in and of itself can be enough for them to start questioning the marriage. And obviously, people change. You aren’t the same person today that you were 7 years ago, or 3 years ago. In a relationship when people change, the key is that the couple try to evolve together rather than apart. And this can be a very difficult feat to master. While one person may start to envision new goals or have new interests the other may be completely happy in the marriage the way it is. it’s nearly impossible for couples to evolve and grow at exactly the same rate.
The key is communication and realizing that your marriage is subject to change for a plethora of reasons. The carefree days of being a newlywed are extremely different from the years where a couple is trying to raise a family. Everything, from financial readiness to sexual relations can change throughout the course of a marriage. And these changes can rattle the foundation of any (and every) marriage. If couples can learn to feel these changes coming on, and can keep an open dialogue as well as maintain separate but equally satisfying lives, they have a better chance of making it through the cycles of marriage that are as certain to occur as the tides.
As you approach the 7-year anniversary in your marriage, sit down together and reassess how far the two of you come, and perhaps begin to focus on new goals together. This way, you can ensure that the two of you are seeing eye to eye and are unionizing your efforts of how to move forward in the future. Instead of being intimidated by the 4 or 7-year itch, uses these milestones as times to sit in gratitude and renew the vows that the two of you took on your wedding day. It is only natural that the two of you will be completely different people; with completely different lives at the 4 and 7-year mark than you were the day you walked down the aisle. Expecting everything to always remain the same, and then feeling disappointed or stuck, or resentful when the marriage takes on a new direction is perhaps one of the biggest marital mistakes that you can make.
Marriage is all about change and working together, and collaboration. With clear communication and respect, you can actually reach the 7-year mark with a much healthier marriage than you ever expected!