How The 7 Year Itch Came About In A Relationship
Have you noticed lately that something is amiss in your relationship? Are all the things you found cute and charming about him now annoying? Are you bored and disillusioned? Looks like you may be hitting the 7-year itch in your relationship, that dreaded time when things start to go south in your relationship or marriage. Have you heard about it? Do you know how it came about? It may be helpful to understand what’s going on so you can find ways to fix it.
Let’s begin by defining the 7-year itch and what it does to your relationship. There are some theories about it, nothing has been 100% proven (most experts have agreed to disagree on this subject), but there’s one that explains it and the timing. It says that after a couple has been together or married for seven years and they have successfully raised one or two children, they realized they don’t want to be together anymore, or in the case of a couple with no children, they decide that it’s time to look for another mate.
The phrase came about or was made popular after a movie with the same name, The 7 Year Itch, (starring Marilyn Monroe) that was released in 1955. This is an iconic movie for two reasons. One, this is where Marilyn Monore created cinematic history when she stepped on a subway grate and a gust of wind lifted her white dress (remember that scene?). The second reason is the theory behind the title: a married person, after being married for 7 years, suddenly get the urge to leave the marriage. In the movie, a married man struggles with the temptation of leaving his wife and kid to run off with a woman who lives next door after being married for 7 years.
The concept, since then has become a ubiquitous term among marital counselors, women’s magazines and popular culture. It was originally a Broadway show, and back then when people heard about The 7 Year Itch it was related to an uncomfortable skin disease like poison ivy. The writer of the play, George Axelrod, heard it first from a comedian and when it was time to pick a title for his play, that’s what stuck (even though his character had been married 10 years not 7).
The writer decided that 7 had a better ring to it. The character in the play encounters the idea of the 7-year itch when he proofread a book by a psychiatrist who claimed that a high percentage of men stray after the seventh year of marriage. So, that’s how the 7-year itch concept came about, but is it true? Is the phenomenon real?
So How True Is The 7 Year Itch?
Among experts, there’s no consensus as to why the 7-year itch may occur. Some marriage counselors say that it is real. There are separate times in a marriage or in a relationship when couples are at risk of splitting up. It could be as early as the first year of being together. It could happen in the seventh year, where couples have raised at least one kid (they have focused on being parents more than being a couple and that neglect doesn’t help a relationship to thrive).
Another theory about what makes the 7 years itch real is that after being together for 7 years some couples that have spent all this time together decide that the relationship no longer exists. They find each other and all those pesky habits and traits (that once upon a time where tolerable), intolerable, they’re relationship is no longer exciting.
There’s yet another theory, developed by Australian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, that suggests that our minds and bodies develop changes every seven years. Steiner’s seven-year-cycle, associated with astrology, says that human experiences changed physically and mentally every seven years and it could be one explanation about the realness of the 7-year itch.
According to Helen Fisher (biological anthropologist), there’s a biological basis for the 7-year itch. She embarked on a project (some years ago) to see if the 7-year itch really existed. First, she studied worldwide marriage and divorce data and notice that although couples stayed together (the duration of the marriage) for 7 years, the couples who divorced, did it in the fourth year and that this occurred (most frequently) among couples at the height of their reproductive and parenting years.
Fisher then tried to explain these findings by looking at pair bonding in birds and mammals. She found that avian species (when it comes to rearing their young), team up. The one that sits on the eggs until they hatch, would’ve starved unless it was fed by his mate. This is a fact also for some mammals like the female fox. What she found a key in her studies is that, although some species of birds and mammals bond for life, they stay together (more often) only long enough to rear their young through infancy and early childhood.
She concluded that since humans retain some of this natural reproductive pattern, the four-year divorce pattern may be explained by this ancestral reproductive strategy: to stay bonded at least long enough to raise a child through infancy. That would explain the weak points in the couple’s relationships, like the fourth or seven-year itch.
Symptoms Of The 7 Year Itch To Watch Out For
As real as the 7-year itch is, the tendency of couples to separate after being together for all that time isn’t due to a big relationship problem, it has much more to do with little things not being right. Little things like lack of boundaries, criticism, blame, contempt, attempting to change your partner have added up during those 7 years until one or both of you finally get fed up.
So, to help with your relationship status. Here are some symptoms you need to watch out so the foundation of your relationship doesn’t crumble because all the little things adding up.
1. “Couple time” is not prioritize anymore
When the relationship started you spent a lot to time together, you know, on dates and it seemed effortless. Now that you have been together all this time, the couple of times is not a priority anymore. It could be for a lot of reasons, one of them your child or children. You have become parents and have left aside the couple time. Or if you don’t have children, other activities have taken priority like work, hobbies, or friends. In both cases, that is not a good sign of a healthy relationship, it’ll only hurt it.
2. Taking each other for granted
Feeling comfortable and at ease with him is part of being in a great relationship. the bad sign comes if after being together for some time, like two or three years, you start to take each other for granted. You stop making an effort to show each other how much you care and how grateful you are to be in each other’s lives.
3. Dissatisfaction by one or more aspects of the relationship
This dissatisfaction is not just sexual or physical, it goes deeper. It’s a gnawing dissatisfaction with yourself and/or him, and with the way, your relationship/marriage is right now.
4. You seem to be living separate lives
You have stopped communicating. because you are not spending any quality time together, so it seems like you’re living separate lives. You don’t know anything about your partner’s stresses and joys, you’re not even inquiring about it and it’s the same with him. You’ve stopped checking on each other.
5. You’ve (both) stopped being honest
Granted, you don’t have to know each other’s every little secret, but it not like that. You have not been honest about things that you were once honest about. You start hiding things from each other, trust is not the same as before.
6. You fight over the same issues over and over again
If you don’t fight once in a while, you can’t grow as a couple. When you fight, you learn from that argument, but when you don’t you’re bound to fight again and it won’t amount to anything positive. That’s a bad sign for your relationship. You’re not identifying patterns so you’re not trying to fix them.
How To Overcome The 7 Year Itch
Now that you have identified the symptoms or signs you’re hitting the 7 Year Itch, you’ll want to do something to get your relationship back on track, because, in spite of all the annoying things you notice about him and him about you, you love each other and want to overcome this phase and move on.
How can you overcome your relationship’s 7 Year Itch? Here are some simple but effective tips.
1. Simple love gestures
You have taken each other for granted, right? That’s part of the problem, your everyday routine has become monotonous, so you need to go the extra mile to show one another how attractive and precious you find each other. Simple unexpected gestures of love can go a long way. Guys, try giving her flowers (it’s been a long time since you’ve done that), girls start complimenting your guy about his looks or about his work. Show each love that you care by having little but meaningful details.
2. Bring back date night
Don’t let your relationship become a business arrangement, start spending quality time together, hence date night. Put it on your calendar as a set date to go out as a couple, even if it’s only to grab a cup of coffee. Use this time to reconnect.
3. Mend that communication gap
Communication is key in any relationship, romantic ones included. Take time to really talk among you two, it’s important to carve out the time to talk about how was your day, about each other’s feelings, about problems you may be experiencing.
4. Start lending your ear willingly
If you don’t make the effort to understand your spouse, the marriage or the relationship is not going to survive. You may have forgotten that emotional support is an important part of being a couple. In order to offer it, you need to really listen, not just pretend. The communication channels need to stay open.
Based on biology and on marriage counselors and personal coaches, the 7 Year Itch is real. It’s not that all couples are going to go through it when they’re approaching the seventh year together, but it’s something you should take into account if you’re in a serious relationship. Be conscious of any changes in your relationship and don’t take each other for granted.
The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé