Most couples have heard of the seven-year itch, and many consider it to be a true phenomenon. The seven-year itch is the concept that after seven years couples will often get tired of each other due to restlessness or changes in personality. A recent article in The Huffington Post explores this phenomenon and the theories that both support and attempt to disprove it.
Some experts believe that the seven-year itch is a result of timing. Sometimes a couple has a few children together and is no longer interested in being married after struggling through the infant years with children. Or after seven years a couple has spent so much time with each other that the traits that were once tolerated are considered to be far too grating to continue to accept. Another theory suggests that our bodies change and develop after seven years, and after personal growth and development we may not fit with our spouse any more emotionally. Austrian philosophy Rudolf Steiner created a theory regarding human development based upon seven-year cycles that are associated with astrology. Steiner posits that humans change and grow every seven years, and these changes in knowledge, experience and personality can cause a marriage to no longer be as stable as it was before change.
Other theories suggest that it’s not necessarily a seven-year itch, but perhaps a four-, three- or 12-year itch.
The Four-Year Itch
Dr. Larry A. Kurdek, a psychology professor from Wright State University, conducted a study in 1999 that suggests that adults experience both a four- and a seven-year itch. His study suggests that levels of marriage quality decreased steeply after the first four years of marriage and again after seven years. Kurdek’s study also showed that couples who had children experienced an even quicker decline in marital quality.
The Three-Year Itch
Parenting website Netmums conducted a study in 2012 that suggests that all other “Itch Theories” are bunk. In the Netmums theory, couples with young children are four and a half times more likely to separate after three years rather than the traditionally accepted seven years. This phenomenon is also attributed to the fact that while more couples are marrying later in life, they’re getting married earlier in their relationships.
The Twelve-Year Itch
Finally a 2010 study suggests that most couples that divorce have spent more than a decade together before deciding to part ways. This study was conducted by Grant Thornton and concluded that marriages are most likely to fail after about 12 years.
What do you think? Is there a magic number of years that a couple needs to worry about? All marriages require extra attention and care to keep them strong, but is there a certain year that’s actually a hurdle? Each couple is certainly different, and if you need a mediator for your marriage, contact the Pellerin Law Firm; we’d be happy to help.
Source: The Huffington Post, “The Seven-Year Itch: Fact or Fiction?“, Jennifer Nagy, January 28, 2013