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The Seventh Year Curse

         The “Seventh Year curse”… Everyone knows it, the belief that happiness in couples continually declines after they’ve spent seven years together. At this point, couples are more likely to consider leaving their relationship or be open to the idea of having an affair outside of marriage. I must admit, I have always regarded this theory with suspicion, why should it be so?  Is there a logical basis behind this notion? In this blog, I would like to consider this widely known and, it would seem, well accepted, concept. The seventh year curse….Does it actually exist?

When we look at available data the idea of a “seventh year curse” appears to have some basis in fact. Guidance counselors suggest that it is around this time in a relationship when couples most often begin to seek outside help to overcome difficulties. There appears to be a significant upward spike at around this point. Psychologists and therapists, it seems, tend to support the idea that the seventh year of marriage is a point of danger and instability. Couples at this point is often articulate feelings of meaninglessness, and even depression. The point in a marriage when a couple is most vulnerable to break down.

To me though, the idea of a “seven year curse” seems a bit of a cliché. It amounts to little more than a way of saying that couples who have been together for an extended period of time, be it seven or ten or more. Or less, can run into difficulties. And that shouldn’t surprise anyone….

You see, there’s no secret here. All relationships encounter challenges. At what point they peak is different in every relationship. It can happen at any stage. The “7th year curse” is simply a way of saying that. When you examine it what becomes clear is that the breaking point in any relationship is personal and unique to that relationship and to the two people involved. It is nothing to do with the number of years.  Sadly the cause of “an itch” can happen at any time. The factors that can cause it are many and varied. It can be caused by financial dilemmas, feeling stressed and tired, the arrival of children, work pressures. When two people have been together for a number of years, “disillusionment” can set in. A feeling that’s it not “going to get any better”. The diminishing of hope. A Confrontation with reality. The romance and excitement of the initial years can quickly seem to be a long time in the past. And, of course, today divorce is much easier than before. It is estimated in the UK that 1 in 2 marriages will end in divorce! As it becomes more numerous, so the stigma associated with it reduces. And that leads to even more divorce. It always seems odd to me that for something as serious as marriage we receive almost no preparation. Mainly young people make what is supposed to be a lifelong commitment without really understanding what that means.

What is clear is that whether or not this curse happens is up to the individuals involved.

Marriage guidance experts insist that there are certain rules that help prevent crises. There is nothing inevitable about this curse. It is avoidable. 1 in 2 marriages in the UK carry on until “death do part”…that is an awful lot of marriages. Indeed countless couples report that their marriage, with each passing year, gets better and happier.  Their main solution is simple to say but maybe not so simple to achieve…couples who succeed in their marriage or relationship demonstrate a deep and regular commitment attached to the relationship. This may mean different things to different couples. But it always means emphasizing the overriding importance of their relationship to each other. And it means doing it continuously. How this can be done is different for each couple. But perhaps these following “relationship rules will help prevent “the curse”…

Point 1: Avoid relationship patterns that don’t work. Give each other space, professionally and at home. Respect each other!

Point 2: Make time for each other. Be thoughtful, affectionate and attentive to your partner’s feelings. Sharing feelings on a regular basis is vital.

Point 3: Make time for yourself.  Retain a sense of individuality, have more to share with your partner.

Point 4: Keep the communication open. Stay connected. Communicate and understand each other’s needs.  Create adventures together.

Point 5: Always remember that there is no substitute for passion. Do not let things get stale. If they have, recognize and discuss it. Intimacy can be rebuilt. Doing things together is so important.

Point 6: Express your needs and ask your partner about their wants and needs. Also express your gratitude. Verbalise your approval of what they mean to you. Do it often!

(It bridges any emotional gap, reawakens the emotional intimacy and brings us closer together)

Point 7: There is no need to be always right. Compromise pays! Choose happiness over your desire to have the last word.

So, for me, there you have it. I don’t actually believe that the “Seventh Year curse” phenomena exists. It is a way of expressing the idea that as life goes by, people change and problems can emerge. I strongly believe all relationships can and do enter periods of difficulty and challenge.  It is vital to recognize such a period as soon as possible, and to take the steps necessary to react and correct before any relationship reaches its breaking point, whether it is marriage, friendship or a love story. A couple should remember and focus on their connection to each other. They should contribute the whole of their energies into solving any potential problem. The steps I have set out above can help to remind us how essential it is not to take each other for granted. To appreciate truly our partner and the value they bring to our life. To recognize the importance of communication and to strive to re-open the lines of connection, should they look to be blocked. And we must always believe in and seek to practice the supremacy of intimacy. It seems to be that heartfelt intimacy between two people is the antidote to any “itch”.

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