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Is the Seven Year Itch in Marriage Real?

The Seven-Year Itch is real according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There were a number of interesting highlights reported in the U.S. Census Bureau’s press release entitled Most People Make Only One Trip Down the Aisle, But First Marriages Shorter. The one that piqued our interest the most was the following: On average, first marriages that end in divorce last about eight years. This phenomenon has often been referred to as the Seven-Year Itch.

First, a little background. Most aficionados of the Seven-Year Itch trace it back to a play by the same name written by one George Axelrod. His three-act play was first performed on Broadway in New York City in 1952. Three years later, a movie by the same title starring the late, great Marylyn Monroe was released by 20th Century Fox.

Before we get to the plot of this article we also wanted to remind you that the Seven-Year Itch has also been associated with an itchy and irritating skin rash that has been reported to last for up to seven years. Frankly, this notion is very closely related to what happens in a number of marriages as we explain in the paragraphs to follow.

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In the most basic sense, the Seven-Year Itch is the inclination of some to become unfaithful to their spouse after seven years of marriage. Most of these marriages end in the 8th year.

In the play and the movie of the same title, a married man by the name of Richard is currently reading a book about to be published by his company entitled 7-Year Itch. The book offers the notion that a large percentage of men have extra-marital affairs after seven years of marriage; hence, the Seven-Year Itch. At the same time he is reading the book, he meets a young blond television model. As you might imagine, the plot thickens!

As the recently released Census data suggest, there just might be something to the Seven-Year Itch when it comes to marriage. The more basic question is, how do you stay faithful to the one you love and keep your loving relationship healthy and strong so it survives the ups. the downs, and the temptations present in all relationships at one time or another.

We believe we have learned much from our more than 30 years of research on successful marriage and loving relationships and would like to share some of our findings with you within the context of this conversation about the Seven-Year Itch. Here are the seven rules for avoiding the Seven-Year Itch:

1. Understand that infatuation with another person and the temptation to betray the trust of the one you love is a perfectly normal feeling when it comes to love and marriage. Getting hitched to another person doesn’t make you less human. It does, in many ways, make you more human – more in touch with your feelings and emotions. Accept the feelings.

2. Do not under any circumstances act on those infatuation and temptation impulses until you have taken the time to fully think through the consequences if you make that choice. Cheating on your spouse or loved one can be and often is deadly to your relationship. Rebuilding trust is nearly impossible after committing such an indiscretion.

3. Recognize that continuing and recurring fantasies and infatuations about another person is a strong indicator of something amiss in your relationship with your spouse or lover. These feelings are often associated with a deep-seated problem in your relationship that must be addressed before it is too late.

4. The fourth rule—the turn the corner rule as we like to refer to it—is to address the issue head-on with your loving partner. Failure to do so will doom your relationship to the ash-heap of lost love. There is pain to be sure when you address the issues that are destroying your loving relationship, but to not do so will be even more painful, we guarantee it!

5. Rule 5 is a tough one. You and your lover may discover in rule 4 that love is tough. It is sometimes unforgiving. Frankly, sometimes you determine that your loving relationship is lost. But more likely, you discover that you truly love your spouse and that you cannot imagine life without them. You find out what so many before have discovered – you love your mate so much you cannot under any circumstances let them go. You must save this relationship by committing to the hard work it will take to rebuild the love.

6. Which is why rule 6 is so critically important. Rule 6 says, seek help! Find some neutral party to talk to. Sometimes couples turn to a marriage counselor. Others turn to self-help websites. Truth is, much of what you need to learn can be self-taught. You can learn to do what you have to do to make your relationship work by reading what others, including us, have discovered. Being educators at heart, we especially like the latter. More often than not, you can learn so much about yourself and your loving relationship by discovering what others have already learned!

7. All of this leads to rule 7. Rule 7 is a simple rule, really. At it’s essence, it says to us that sometimes we have to fish or cut bait. The reality is that some marriages and loving relationships cannot be saved. They are doomed. They must end to the mutual benefit of both and to the many that are affected by the relationship. It is time to move on. But in the end, an examination of your relationship will hopefully reveal that your relationship is worth saving. More often than not, it can be saved. You should always work towards that end if you are to avoid the Seven-Year Itch.

We offer these seven rules to help you avoid the Seven-Year Itch so you can be one of those happy and successfully married couples who celebrate their golden anniversaries together.

In love and marriage the simple things matter. Love well!

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