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The Seven Year Itch

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

There is much discussion as to whether the “Seven Year Itch” is real or imagined. Whether this actually happens at seven years, four years, fourteen years or if it happens at all. If all couples face this or just some. And, what type of impact, if any, does this play within a marriage.

There are enough examples of couples who have experienced something that resembles this phenomenon to say that, yes, it is real.

Here are some interesting statistics:

In 1922 the median duration of marriage that ended in divorce was 6.6 years. In 1974 it was 7.5 years. And, in 1990 it was 7.2 years.

So why does this happen? And, what is this “Seven Year Itch” exactly?

It is a condition that can arise after the honeymoon high has worn off that often has us blinded to some realities. The honeymoon high is the initial excitement of getting married, the romanticizing of our relationship and the thrill of embarking on a new venture with our “soul mate”. And, the intense feelings and passions that accompany this new dynamic.

This itch has been described by those who have faced it, as being bored with their partner. Some experience the desire to be single again or in finding a different partner. Others feel like their relationship has evolved into something more like living with a roommate than with someone they use to be passionate about. The feeling of being alone or abandoned. There is a desire to be independent with no strings attached. Then there is the sense of the marriage being stagnant and stale. The feeling that the grass is greener on the other side of their marriage. Little annoyances once overlooked, or not known prior to marriage, now become irritations.

What are some of those irritations? Here are some of the more common ones:

  1. Bathroom habits

  2. Lapse in fashion

  3. Alcohol

  4. Snoring

  5. Lack of romance

  6. Hygiene issues

  7. Money & thriftiness

  8. Weight gain

Some couples marry for the wrong reasons. Those wrong reasons are most often not a strong enough foundation for a marriage to be built upon. In successfully overcoming things such as annoyances and are the most susceptible to this seven-year itch. Most of those wrong reasons are selfish ones. Marrying for money or financial advantages, prestige, a gain of power or position, notoriety, self-promotion or career advancement, necessity or convenience to name a few. In these situations, the commitment is to self. This is hardly a winning recipe for a successful, lasting marriage. Only a functioning, superficial one that will end once either party meets someone that actually does win their heart over and they connect on that deeper level. Or, those initial conditions for getting married should change. The irritations become one of the convincing excuses used to justify making an exit and hooking up with that new love, or finding someone else that can provide what was lost in the previous relationship that will satisfy those self-centered needs.

Many couples may experience what is considered a dry patch or rut. This should not be confused with an itch. A rut is merely a condition a couple can find themselves in where the relationship has become dry and too routine. An itch is an individual struggle seeking change out of a relationship or toward a different one. One that a person often perceives will be more exciting and stimulating. A rut, however, can lead to an itch if left unattended.

We all bring into a relationship quirks, habits and such that our mate may find as irritating, now that marriage has made being around that person a daily thing. However, those in a committed relationship will find a means to deal with it rather than to run away from it.

Yvonne’s pet peeve is water spots. Once she “strongly” voiced this as an irritation, I wisely (being facetious of course) became more conscious of it. And not wanting to add to her life’s frustrations, I focused on doing better. Even now, sometimes I remember to wipe them up after say, washing my hands, sometimes I quite frankly forget. One day she brought it up saying that she just resigned to the fact that she will find them. At least not as often. We’ve gone from DEFCON 5 to DEFCON 3. I think either I wore her down, or this reduction of water spots on my part helped reduce the irritation to an acceptable level.

Another crisis averted!

One important ingredient required to deal with irritations is time. There are situations where we have to allow ourselves time early in a marriage to get accustomed to someone who approaches things differently. It may be that an irritation one may have comes from expecting something to be done the same way you have always done it. Time helps to adjust to the notion that it is not the end of the world if a different approach is made.

Time also allows for more opportunities to communicate how one feels. What concerns each may have. What we don’t like as well as what we do like. What are those irritating pet peeves? How to deal with irritations? The time available to share dreams, goals, hopes, feelings and in maintaining that human connection. And time to keep the flame burning. We should never underestimate the value of the time we offer to our mate.

If you haven’t noticed, time is the one common subject that pops up regularly in our blogs. This is because time is so foundational to any relationship.

Naturally, other key ingredients needed along with time in addressing irritations would be having some patience, grace, willingness to compromise, willingness to change, desire to please, ability to forgive as well as the ability to let things go. Exercise some common courtesy. Be more mindful of his or her feelings.

So, what do you do then should you find your relationship in a dry patch, a rut or even that seven-year itch? Here are some thoughts to consider. Some we have covered in previous blogs:

  1. Break up your schedule. If you find you have settled into a routine week in and week out that is hurting your relationship, then change it by highlighting your time with some activity, outing or function that breaks the routine. Maybe join a bowling team as an example. It’s a short-term commitment but it gets you out and doing something together for a period of time which makes your standard routine more enjoyable when it comes around.

  2. Stay interesting. Guys, don’t always wear your baseball cap everywhere with your shorts and shower thongs. Get cleaned up for your lady. Women, stop with the quick and dirty of pulling your hair up with a chip clip and workout attire as the standard daily look. Wash your hair and put some time in getting fixed up at least once in a while. I hear people say it is too much work and that others should not care what they look like. Yea, actually they do. And you should too.

  3. Hygiene. This goes hand in hand with point #2. It is said that some have gotten so lazy that they don’t even shower for days. I read not long ago that Madonna could not remember the last time she took a shower. Say what? No one wants to smell your funk, especially your spouse, no matter how liberated you think you are or accepting others should be. Take a shower, invest in deodorant, perfume or some cologne. Take pride in your appearance. Present the best you for yourself first, to others and especially to your spouse.

  4. Try some hobbies together.

  5. Consider a class you both can take such as a language course.

  6. If there are some things that are irritating to either of you, talk to one another about it and be willing to change in order that you may avoid that irritation becoming a stumbling block. If you care enough you will want to make efforts to please one another. If your attitude is that you shouldn’t have to do anything concerning your behaviors because that is just “who you are” then you are quite frankly too immature and too self-centered. Time to grow up and smell the coffee.

  7. Go to church as a couple more than just on holidays.

Whatever you come up with as your list, the important thing is that you have one that can become a useful tool. Life offers an abundance of things for us to choose from. Especially here in America.

Your marriage is what you make of it.

The Seven-Year Itch is only one obstacle a couple might face. The others are what has been called the “mid-life crisis” and “menopause”. They are different from each other and arise during the “Rock n Roll Years”. That time period will be the focus of our next blog


Stay tuned!

Until then, we wish you LOVE, JOY & PEACE!

Brad & Yvonne


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