Short answer: a little bit of both.
It’s the day you’ve both been looking forward to. The day your friends and family will shower you with love. One of the most romantic days of your life. You’ll spend time looking your best. You’ll spend time planning. You’ll spend time counting down the minutes until your wedding day.
After the wedding and honeymoon are over, you’ll go back to regular life. But there’s something sweet about newly married life. You’re excited about being able to say husband or wife. You’re excited about after work drinks and weekend plans.
Then maybe a couple years later, you’re pregnant. You both are thrilled and scared to bring a baby into this world. You focus on the baby.
Over time, you approach your 7 year wedding anniversary. You comment on how much you still love each other and wonder what the 7 itch is. Then during the 7th year things change. You feel like your relationship is mundane. You’re bored. There’s not much going on between the two of you except for the children.
Does this always happen?
Is the 7 year itch real?
The 7 year itch isn’t some nightmare that automatically occurs on your 7th anniversary. It isn’t limited to married couples. It occurs because couples stop investing time in getting to know one another.
What does the 7 year itch even mean?
The phase “7 year itch” actually comes from the play The Seven Year Itch by George Axelrod which detailed the inclination to become unfaithful after seven years of marriage. It gained popularity after an adaptation starting Marilyn Monroe. Because well, it’s Marilyn.
Since the phrase stems from the desire to be unfaithful, let’s review what causes infidelity in otherwise healthy relationships.
Lack of communication
Over time things get stale. It’s unavoidable. Adult lives are monotonous. Work, kids, dinner, sleep, repeat. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. This rut combined with our addiction to devices results in hardly any time to connect. Watching a series together on Netflix doesn’t cut it.
Does this mean you need to put the kids to bed, sit there and stare at each other in the face until you make conversation? No.
When you aren’t on the weekday monotony, find time to spend together doing an activity. Bond over the activity. Communicate during the activity. You will be spending time together and giving yourselves something to talk about.
A happy marriage is about three things: memories of togetherness, forgiveness of mistakes and a promise to never give up on each other. — Surabhi Surendra
Lack of desire
If you aren’t communicating, you’re not desiring each other. It goes hand in hand. There has never been a moment that I am fighting with my husband that I am interested in sex. It doesn’t happen. Spend time together so that you’re communicating. And once you’re communicating and happy, desire will be found.
If you are communicating and there is still a lack of desire. There’s a bigger problem in your relationship that needs to be analyzed and fixed.
Lack of affection
I’m a culprit to this all the time. I’m not very affectionate by nature. Avoiding the daily hug or kiss will inevitably result in communication issues. I kiss my husband when I say good morning and at night when I say good night. It’s the least I can do. He is better with affection and knows just when to give me a hug to make me feel better. Sometimes all you need is a quick hug to feel connected.
I’ve read numerous articles on preventing the 7 year itch. Recommendations include communicating often, listening to each other, and even changing the way you think about love. All of this can be summarized in investing time to know each other. By continuously investing time with your spouse, you will avoid miscommunication, lack of desire and lack of affection.
I wholeheartedly believe in engaging in a challenging activity with your spouse as a good way to spend time together. Challenging activities will:
- Increase communication — you will give yourselves something to talk about. You’ll discuss the activity, the challenge, how you felt, how you both conquered it together and you will grow closer because of it.
- Increase desire — seeing your spouse handle a challenge like a champ will show you a different side of him. Seeing your spouse suck at a challenge will give you both something to laugh about. Either way, your desire for each other will increase.
- Increase affection — there is nothing like being scared for your life that increases affection! I’m partially kidding. I remember snorkeling in the ocean with my husband on our honeymoon. I was so distraught, he had to hold my hand while snorkeling so I calmed down. I still do this during challenging activities. I hold his hand so I feel secure.
I’m not a marriage counselor but I have been very happily married for 10 years. Our happiness comes from making time for each other and engaging in challenging activities together. We take days off work while the kids are in school and spend them together. We hike often and we train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu together. These activities have kept us united.
If you’re stuck in a relationship rut, an activity that makes you think may just do the trick. If it doesn’t, what’s the worst that can happen? You’ll challenge yourself and grow from it. Either way, you’re growing, individually or as a couple. Both will have a positive effect on your marriage.