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Is The Seven-Year-Itch A Real Thing?


How long does the average marriage last for first-timers in this country? Eight point two years. Some say the mythical seven-year-itch takes its toll, and couples decide to split after spinning their wheels for a period of time. What does research have to say about it?

Adult Cycles 

The truth is that  researchers have found that adults actually cycle through life in roughly seven-year cycles. That means couples could feasibly enjoy about seven years of overall equanimity and then suddenly face a few years of a downturn in their relationship.  If they stick it out, the cycle presumably repeats itself. If they can’t weather the storm, though, they could end up divorced. Whether the issue is family and issues at home, occupational and professional, aging and wellbeing, or addressing the needs of elderly parents, these transitions can be demanding and strain a marriage.

Phase I 

Researchers note that fledgling newlyweds are experiencing a transition away from reliance on their parents and are looking for stability in their new relationship and their dreams of a future. They long to feel loved and prioritized, offering the same to their new spouse. It’s all very exciting and romantic, and they are deeply committed to their new adventure.

The Building Phase 

Couples ultimately develop patterns and expectations in their marriages that create stability, settling into routines and a normal give-and-take that feels right for them. They adapt to daily schedules that accommodate their lifestyle, and develop norms for who does what as they craft the guidelines of their relationship.  Who makes the bed each day? Who empties the dishwasher? What do you do on Christmas morning?  Figuring out what makes a marriage work is amusing and enjoyable for many couples as they negotiate the patterns in their new lives that will lead to a successful and happy marriage.

Crisis Phase 

Somewhere around year seven, according to researchers, one or both partners start to feel “itchy,” or generally antsy. Everything that used to seem delightful about a partner is lost somewhere between the piles of dirty laundry, scrubbing the kitchen floors and commuting to work.  While the objective used to be simply feeling grounded and stable together, that’s now become dull, if not stifling.  As individuals have changed and grown, their opinions, hopes, and needs have evolved, as well. Routine just doesn’t cut it anymore.

The Seven-Year Itch 

As relationships become patterned and lack spontaneity couples tend to start faultfinding, bickering, or deliberately creating space between them. Nothing feels like it used to, and, for some, bowing out–either emotionally or through a divorce—is the only way to feel good again. So instead of making an effort to connect to one another, couples turn their focus to other things like their jobs, their children, and even to ambitions unrelated to the relationship. That could lead to new hobbies, commitments, or relationships. In some cases, it becomes obvious that  throwing in the towel all together is the best course of action, and couples make the decision to split up.

Are You Ready to Move On? 

If the seven-year itch has you feeling like it’s time to move on, the experienced Baltimore family attorneys at The Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes can help you to make a clean break.  Schedule a confidential consultation in our Baltimore office today.



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