Surely you’ve heard the term “7-Year Itch,” thrown around by friends or family, or maybe the movie of a similar name. Whatever the origin may be, it’s important to know exactly what the 7-Year Itch is to work through it and set you and your partner up for long-term marital success.
What Exactly is the 7-Year Itch?
The 7-Year Itch is the idea that marriages start to decline or end in divorce around the seven-year mark due to boredom or even unhappiness. Either one or both partners can feel the 7-Year Itch and can be produced by several different factors, including:
- Lack of communication
- Financial woes
- Dwindling intimacy
Should You Be Concerned?
Reports rooted in psychological studies and national statistics look to validate the idea of the 7-Year Itch, but there are also polarizing debates on its significance. My experience working with couples over the last decade points me to a more nuanced understanding of the topic.
Factors like remarriage, age, kids, career, extended family, and culture also play into whether or not the 7-Year Itch should be a concern. For example, if you’re past 55, with adult children, and retired in your second marriage, perhaps the “itch” is less relevant. But, on the other hand, if you’re in your 30s, have no kids, and are in an interracial or interfaith marriage without unanimous support, the 7-Year Itch can be something to seriously look out for. The combinations are endless, and each has its affinity for relevance to the 7-Year Itch phenomenon!
But here’s the bottom line: there are fundamental choices that you and your partner can make to build a happy future, regardless of whether it is 1, 2, 5, or 7 years into your marriage.
How to Eradicate the 7-Year Itch
Whether or not the 7-Year Itch is fact or myth, you and your partner can be proactive in promoting and maintaining the health of your marriage.
1. Spot the Issues Ahead of Time
For those in a serious relationship or engaged, be on the lookout for any red flags before tying the knot. These warning signs can include:
- Lack of clear boundaries with your respective families
- Avoidance of talking about deep, tough subjects like money, children, religion, and each other’s cultures
- No space to grow as individuals within the relationship
2. Develop a Plan for Your Marriage
It’s not uncommon for couples to spend large amounts of money, time, and energy on their wedding. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this tradition as long as you follow one basic rule: Invest the same, if not more, amount of time and energy into preparing for your marriage.
Remember that it’s all about what’s best for you and your partner first. If you’re starting to realize that your wedding is more for your family and many other people you won’t ever see again, then there can be a potential problem.
Start having crucial talks about money now. Unpack your plans to spend and save on goals 1, 2, and 5 years from now, not just around your wedding! You’ll quickly discover that these talks will lead to a deeper understanding of each other and potentially solidify your path to a fruitful relationship. Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to engage with a family law attorney or trusted online prenup service about cementing these plans with a prenuptial agreement.
3. Communicate Early, Often, Deeply
Divorce and turmoil in marriages arise most commonly from bad communication. Poor communication on money, children, family, and intimacy leads to serious problems. These matters need to be addressed as soon as they come up. Avoid resentment, retaliation, and reclusiveness by facing the issues head-on with open, honest conversations. Though it’s seldom easy, you may be surprised at how straightforward the communication solution is.
4. Avoid Compromise
In a relationship, surely you’ll have your disagreements and ups and downs. The key is to not rely on “giving in” just to stop the argument. Both partners lose in that situation. Instead, get creative and perhaps outside of your comfort zone to develop solutions that build new paths and excitement, not regret and resentment. Care about what your partner cares about and see how that leads to new and exciting things ahead.
5. Get Professional Help
When things get tough, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of psychological, emotional, and legal experts to guide you through tough times. Family and friends can help with unconditional love and support, but their opinions can be biased and shield you from objective truths. If you’re struggling to find reliable expert coaches, therapists, or attorneys, reach out to me; I’d be happy to learn about what you need to help or refer you to a vetted professional.
Final Words on the 7-Year Itch
Though it’s helpful to learn about the 7-Year Itch, I believe it’s even more valuable to apply tried and true practices to your relationship that apply to all couples and timeframes. Thus, don’t rely on the seven-year mark as the date to assess your marriage’s health. Instead, continually work to strengthen your marriage, so you get to enjoy the fruits of your efforts regardless of what year it is.