Falling in love is one of the most anticipated moments of almost every person on this planet – the romantic bliss, butterflies in the stomach, rapid heartbeat, and sparkly eyes. At some point, we all dreamed of having someone to spend the Valentine’s Day with, someone to greet on every special occasion, and someone to share every laugh and heartbreak. But at least for a while. All these feelings tend to lessen over time.
Why do relationships end? Why do love and happiness fade? Why does something that was once great turn into hate or merely nothing?
What Is A Seven-Year Itch?
It is the term used to indicate that when couples reach their seventh year together, happiness and excitement, if not lost, start to fade. They have grown tired of the situation, and their minds begin to wonder what could be waiting outside of the relationship. As Marie Manly, PhD explains, “There are many types of toxic relationships such as a controlling or manipulative, negative, self-centered or narcissistic, dishonest, insecure, abusive, blaming or demanding and competitive, and secretive, and dramatic,”
What Factors Can Trigger ASeven-Year Itch?
- Seven years is a long time to have spent with someone. It is more than enough to know each other’s weaknesses that we often don’t discover early on. During this time, both parties are already comfortable with each other to expose all of their not so good qualities and habits, like picking their nose and farting. We usually don’t do this at the start of a relationship, but when we are accustomed to someone, we don’t think much of what we should and should not do in front of them. Subconsciously, we are still grossed out with these behaviors, but we are too adapted that we ignore them.
- During this time, couples should have so many experiences already – disappointments and broken promises. Seven years cannot be all happiness. With all the expectations we set for each other, seven years have made us fail more than a few dozen times. We hurt each other, and the brain is made to remember. It keeps all our memories– the good and bad. The undesirable experiences and memories we had would trigger sadness that would make us feel unhappy and would make us think we are unhappy.
- Our world is bound to change, and not all of us are thrilled by it. A relationship consists of two different individuals who may have two different perspectives about it. Changes could be the technology, environment, culture, and people. One may want to try to embrace change, try new things and feel excited about it while the other one may want to stay the same and is not comfortable with all that’s happening around.
- We are naturally curious, and we don’t have satisfaction. We tend to think of the possibilities outside our relationship – What could I have become if we’re not together? Where could I have been if he wasn’t too lazy to travel? What if I was alone? Could I have done all this and that? What if we’re not together? Could I have been happier? All the “what ifs” are mind-boggling, and the need to answer them often overwhelms us.
- Sometimes, we are blinded by what we call love that no matter how wrong it is, we wouldn’t mind because we are head over heels in love with someone. We give up our dreams and the people around us for the chance of being happy with the person we love. Later on, we realize that this choice had led us to a miserable life. It will make us wonder if we have made a mistake, and we feel horrible for being stuck in it.
- If a couple has a child or children, it is the time when they are exhausted physically and psychologically. They have to change from being carefree into becoming responsible adults who need to think about all the necessities of their family. Sometimes, it is too much that one might want things differently and give up.
It is also the end of all exciting developmental milestones of the children, so during this time, parents would feel a significant change of being thrilled to become more subtle.
How Can We Avoid A Seven-Year Itch?
- Communication is the key to all relationships. It is important that our partners know what and how we feel. Sometimes, we are hesitant to open up because we know they are going to get mad, like if we want to try skydiving, and we know our partner wouldn’t allow. We would rather keep quiet and forget about our desires thinking it will pass, but situations like this happening repeatedly will suck the life out of anyone.
We also should be able to tell our partners our disappointments and pains regardless of who caused them, or especially if they’re the reason behind them. They should know that they have done something that hurt us, so they can have the opportunity to apologize and make up for it. Sometimes, some people are insensitive that they are not aware of the things that are happening around them. “Give yourself time to heal. We can be harder on ourselves than on any other person. Realize that fully overcoming the issues you had to face during your relationship may take time, and that’s OKAY.” Heather Edwards LMHC, NCC, BCC advises.
- As partners, we should be able to compromise. Remember that even identical twins have differences, and we have to accept that the moment we get into a relationship, there will be times that we’ll have different opinions about a particular situation or decision. We must learn to give way, maybe talk about having a system of how to deal with situations like these. Talk about the issue and learn to compromise. Listen to what the other has to say.
- Respect is important. No matter how attached we have become, we need to acknowledge the identity and existence of our partners by respecting their privacy and decisions. If your partner wants a night out with friends, let him be. You can’t lock him up forever. He needs socialization outside your relationship. Keep in mind that you are to spend a lifetime together, so making the other take a breath of fresh air is healthy.
Also, respect your partner’s decision. Never decide for him even though you think you are mostly right. You can talk it out, explain your thoughts, but never insist. You may be right, but that doesn’t mean his feelings aren’t valid. Learn to respect that.
- We should be open to change. It is, after all, the only permanent thing in this world. If our partner is hesitant about it, never move forward without him. Keep in mind that you’re partners. Instead of feeling slowed down, pause and try to help your partner understand and adjust. Sometimes, that’s all they need – someone to hold their hand while they walk through the changes. Maybe, they are just scared, and we are supposed to be there for them.
“Think about the old “seven year itch” and how the fact that even in times when marriage was deemed to be more sacred than it is now, a husband’s inclinations toward being unfaithful after a period of marriage was so pronounced that it merited its own name.” says Katrina Bilhimer, Ma, LMHC. Maybe a seven-year itch is just a term used when happiness and excitement weaken a relationship. It doesn’t necessarily mean that this will happen during the seventh year. It can happen on the first, third, or fifth. It may even occur later or never if we just know how to be in a relationship.
We are all humans. We are bound to make mistakes and be selfish sometimes, and a seven-year itch is just another bump in the road that mostly happens in 2,555 days of a relationship. It’s either you decide to go through it together or go on separate ways.