It’s inevitable that at a certain point in every long-term relationship, things start to become monotonous and a little boring. When that happens, your mind (or your eye!) may start to wander and you might begin to wonder if the grass is greener on the other side. More often than not, this comes around the 7 year mark, which is why it’s known as the 7 year itch. While it might take a bit of work to get through, it’s not insurmountable. Here’s everything you need to know to keep your partnership on the right track.
What is the 7 year itch?
While not a scientific term, the 7 year itch refers to the popular belief that relationship satisfaction and happiness begin to wane somewhere around the 7 year mark. The concept relies on the idea that the longer a couple is together, the less excitement and mystery there is. As a result, the relationship becomes stagnant and those in it feel restless or even miserable.
This isn’t a new term, either. Author Philip Gibbs first discussed the 7 year itch in his 1913 novel “The Eighth Year,” attributing the term to British judge Sir Francis Jeune. Marilyn Monroe herself even starred in a film adaptation of George Axelrod’s play “The Seven Year Itch” in 1955. In other words, it’s been around for a pretty long time.
Is there any truth to this idea?
Strangely enough, yes. According to the U.S. National Center For Health Statistics, the average marriage lasted about 6.6 years back in 1922 before ending in divorce. By 1990, things hadn’t gotten much better — couples were divorcing after about 7.2 years. As recently as 2018, divorce rates in Finland were pretty consistent with this idea, meaning the 7 year itch has more of a basis in reality than you’d think.
How to work through the 7 year itch in your marriage or relationship
- Brush up on your communication skills. Expressing your feelings to your partner is essential. Just because you finish each other’s sentences doesn’t mean they can read your mind. If you’re bored with your daily routines and need some more excitement in your life, the best place to start is by telling him.
- Avoid confiding in others. Venting to your friends might feel good in the moment, but it can harm your relationship. Your friends can offer sound advice, sure, but it’s up to you to solve your issues with your partner. Plus, they would likely feel violated that you’re sharing the intimate details of your relationship with others.
- Make sure to keep dating. Date night shouldn’t disappear just because you’re in a committed relationship. If anything, it’s more important than ever to keep up with it. It’s nice that you found someone you can be truly comfortable around. However, too much comfort can derail your relationships. Put on that dress he loves and ditch the sweats, at least for one night a week.
- Start a new activity together. Their fantasy football league and your book club have been pulling you in different directions. So, find a new activity you can enjoy together, like joining a kickball team. You’d be surprised how a new activity will you have connecting in new (and exciting) ways.
- Try roleplaying. If you’re tired of sleeping with the same man every night, spice things up with a little roleplaying. If you have always fantasized about firefighters, buy your partner a fireman costume and bust a move. They may be caught off guard at first, but you’ll definitely pique their interest.
- Take a vacation together. Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes to reignite the sparks in your relationship. Things like work and family can get in the way of romance, so leave that all behind and take a trip for just the two of you, even if it’s just a local weekend trip.
- Consider attending couples counseling. If all else fails or things seem too far gone, seek the expertise of a counselor. It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself (and your partner) from a non-biased opinion.
What if you can’t get through it?
There’s always the possibility that the 7 year itch signifies a deeper dissatisfaction with your relationship. Perhaps it has nothing to do with how long you’ve been together. Maybe your relationship has simply run its course and is no longer right for you. Or, perhaps you’ve stuck it out in a toxic partnership for far too long but are finally at breaking point.
While it’s normal to go through periods of uncertainty in relationships, there is a limit. All couples go through tough times. After all, relationships take work and commitment. If both partners are willing to try, it’s likely surmountable. However, you shouldn’t fool yourself into thinking you can force a relationship that clearly isn’t right. You might do everything to get things back on track and it simply isn’t working. In that case, it’s important to acknowledge this fact. There’s no shame in walking away from a situation that no longer serves you.