Scratch the seven-year itch
Does the amount of time you and your partner have been together really define your relationship? In a day and age where it’s encouraged to have multiple careers in one lifetime and where we are constantly upgrading and up selling our belongings, is it also becoming the norm to have multiple life partners? Are we becoming too frivolous and not fighting for love?
My husband and I recently celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary, which inspired the comment, ‘Ooh it’s the seven-year itch’, from others. But in our case, the seventh year holds special purpose, as the day we became husband and wife also marked seven years of us being together (having started our relationship as 16-year-old high school sweethearts).
There is endless speculation as to where the ‘seven-year itch’ timeframe originated, with some suggesting it draws back to Rudolf Steiner’s theory human development occurs in seven-year cycles, during which time we undergo immense changes in personal growth, knowledge and experience every seven years.
But in today’s fast-paced society where we want everything ‘here and now’ and relationships are formed with a swipe left or swipe right, it’s not surprising the ‘seven-year itch’ theory is now actually closer to a ‘two-year tickle’.
Psychotherapist Pamela Pannifex says all relationships progress through normal and inevitable phases, which often start with an initial ‘honeymoon phase’, also depicted as ‘weak at the knees’ love we see in the movies.
“Research tells us that the ‘honeymoon phase’ lasts up to two years, after this, relationships move into what’s known as the ‘working phase’, where differences emerge and partners need to work together to reconcile differences, solve problems, and keep their relationship functioning well,” she says.
“When these differences and problems are not resolved, relationships can reach a crisis point. One or both partners start looking for solutions to their unmet needs, often (but not always) outside the marriage – a facelift, a new car, having an affair, backpacking through Asia – or dreaming of these.”
It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”
With the latest government figures showing the number of marriages each year is decreasing and the rate of divorce is increasing, it’s worth doing all you can to make sure your relationship doesn’t become another statistic.
“It’s normal that all relationships reach crisis points of one type or another at various points,” Pamela says.
“The healthy solution is for both partners to develop a strong sense of personal awareness (to nourish the ‘I’ within the ‘we’), to have strong communication skills that keep them connected, and to create a relationship culture that’s healthy and sustainable, despite the inevitable challenges that any relationship will bring.”
I am also a firm believer that a successful relationship must first and foremost be a best friendship, as German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche says, “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages”.
Don’t you want to live happily ever after? I do.