What’s Behind the Seven Year Itch?

I read an article that was out of London called The Seven Year Itch is Now the Three Year Glitch and I created a poll from it as well on CN.  You can find it here.  That got me thinking….what really is the seven year itch?  Does it really exist?  Or is it getting shorter?

Movies have been written about it…did you see the movie starring Marilyn Monroe?   The one with the dress and the subway grate?  Surely you’ve seen that scene on TV or commercials.   It was also a play on Broadway.   In the 1800′s, it was an irritating skin complaint, pimply and itchy, that supposedly lasted for seven years.   Traditionally, now a days, it is used to commonly refer to the inclination to become unfaithful after seven years of marriage.

When I was in the first 7 years of my marriage, I really thought it was something that was real.  Unbeknownst to Mr. Nutmeg to this day (well now he’ll know), I was really scared when we got to that 7th year.   Was he going to get bored of me?  Was I going to get bored of him?  Would one of us cheat on the other?   Did it start at the beginning of that 7th year or after our 7 year anniversary?  Yes, I was, and still am at times, very naive about things.   Around that 7 year time period for us was when I got pregnant with our daughter and after her birth.   Was I planning on cheating? NO!  Was he?  NO!   I was just truly ignorant to and believed what society thinks is a done deal.

I was reading several articles on the subject, one (quoted above) that suggests that maybe it happens after 3 years of marriage, and it amazes me what is published out there that people believe as the gospel truth.  In the article Can you Survive the Seven Year Itch?, they interviewed four women.  The first one in the article expected love to conquer all.  Love can’t do it by itself, and much to her husband’s sorrow, she wants to separate and divorce.  He isn’t meeting her expectations.   The fairy tale marriage blew up in this relationship.  Once all the glitz and glamour was gone and the real world set in, their marriage began to implode…at least to her.   I did agree with the assessment in this article of why 7 years is the landmark of the itch… “As soon as you’ve been married for seven years, you can’t help but momentarily evaluate your relationship. And I can see why it might be a turning point – the honeymoon period is over, the warm period of normality and familiarity may be cooling, and some people may start looking for what’s next.” I think that is why people start doubting that they made the right choice…. That huggy, touchy, feely kind of love that you had in your dating period, the fairy tale weddings, and the newlywed phase wear off, and that is where you really start to learn what love really is.

Love is just a feeling. Marriage is  a commitment.   A covenant.  “Honey, I may not feel that I love you, but I really do love you” kind of covenant.   The “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” doesn’t even factor into the covenant you made with your spouse.  When you make this covenant with your spouse, your vows don’t say that you’ll look for something new when the old flame wears out.   That’s when the richer or poorer kicks in….in sickness and in health….for better or for worse….until DEATH do us part.   I made that commitment to my husband and to God.

It would have been really easy during my refusing years to decide that it was all Mr. Nutmeg’s fault that I was so unhappy.  Comparing my marriage to others at church, thinking that they must be in a perfect marriage and hoping that I am not showing that I am not. You know, it wasn’t until years later that God revealed to me that while my marriage wasn’t perfect by any means (I mean whose is?), but that He had chosen the perfect man for me that completes me.   My spouse knew the true meaning of love and was willing to do everything and anything in his power to keep our marriage alive.   That’s basically the opposite of what Melani decided  in the quoted article above.   It was her husband’s fault that they couldn’t buy a house.  It was her husband’s fault that she wasn’t happy.  In the article, it sounds like he was very level headed.   His voice in that article sounds like my husband’s. “I fell in love with <her> the moment we met and I’d do anything to spend my life with her”.  It is obvious that unless she has a heart to heart with God and with her husband, no one is going to please her and she may doom herself in future marriages if she tries to marry again.

Here’s an article from Psychology Today to discuss a bit, too, in the comment section entitled How to Avoid the Seven Year Itch.  In the article, Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz offer 7 rules to help avoid the seven year itch and how to build a love that lasts.   My husband and I discussed these 7 rules together.  He agreed with them.   He added in our conversation that in our marriage, we don’t at this point have “opportunities” at work that some find in coworkers.   Being unhappy and discussing it with coworkers of the opposite sex that are unhappy, too….he’s right….Infatuations and affairs all come in these situations, so it is important to guard your heart and not to ACT on your infatuations.

Please feel free to add your thoughts, feelings and experiences with the “Seven Year Itch” below.   We can all learn from each other how to keep our covenants alive in our marriage and maybe we can share things we’ve done/tried when we start to feel boredom come into the picture or feel like we are falling out of love with our spouse.  I look forward to reading your responses.

I am republishing this right before DH and I celebrate 17 years of marriage. 

Original article.

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