Family & Relationships How To Spot — and Avoid — The Dreaded "Seven-Year Itch" In A Relationship
She was pregnant and terribly itchy. Something was going very wrong.
The ailment was intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, which causes a toxic womb environment and can lead to stillbirths.Sicher had no rash, and her obstetrician at the time assured her that itching was a normal symptom of pregnancy. Yet this didn’t feel like a normal itch. It was a penetrating, psychologically infuriating itch.
If you’ve ever been in a long-term relationship, then odds are you’ve heard one person or another throw around the concept of the “seven year itch.” This phrase usually refers to a point in a relationship where one or both partners start to become bored or dissatisfied in the relationship. Of course, not every couple experiences this (in fact, some experts don’t even believe it’s a real thing), but the general concept of the seven year itch is important to understand so you can avoid similar pitfalls in your own relationship — no matter how long you’ve been with your significant other.
, a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and Founder and CEO of Mayfield Counseling Centers, is one of the experts who believes the concept of the seven year itch isn’t quite as real as people think.
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“In my opinion the seven-year itch is a myth. Why? Because in a committed relationship wandering eyes and/or affairs should not be something that is even considered,” Dr. Mayfield tells Woman’s Day. “Are there hard times in a relationship? Yes. Being in a relationship takes work, intentionality, and commitment. Love should not be only a feeling (which comes and goes) but also a choice, which takes work.”
Despite whether the seven year itch is in fact “real” or not, licensed clinical psychologistsees couples in therapy who often reference the term to describe hardships in their relationship. “In therapy it is often brought up as a term to discuss the growth of a relationship,” Dr. Strongin tells Woman’s Day. “When couples come in and reference this term in their marriage, we spend a great deal of time understanding what grew them together in the last seven years and what also grew them apart. This is a great time for couples to assess and look at what has been working and also what is no longer working.”
What to do if you hate dating
I just got off the phone with a potential client. She's in her mid-60s, lives in New York City, is accomplished, and wants to find a partner now that she's been divorced for a number of years. All of this sounds par for the course in terms of my regular clientele. Most people I work with are in the same predicament: divorced or widowed and looking to spend the rest of their lives with a loving partner.© Dreamstime/Dreamstime/TNS Rather than looking at the dating process like something you have to slog through in order to get to a relationship, try to think of it as forming the necessary building blocks to a relationship.
No matter what your relationship looks like, though, or how long you’ve been with a partner, Dr. Mayfield says that it’s important to know that many relationships have cycles connected to major life changes.
“There are several cycles that happen in a marriage that make certain years harder than others. Typically, year one is hard on a marriage because couples are getting used to each other,” Dr. Mayfield explains. Year two is hard on a marriage because typically kids are introduced into the system. Year seven is hard on a marriage because kids are going off to school. Year 21 is hard on a marriage because kids are leaving the house.
“Realize we are innately selfish beings and learning to be humble and selfless is difficult. Realize that relationships take work and it is not a 50/50 split but rather an intentional 100/100 effort. Realize that the ‘feeling’ of love can come and go, but that choosing to love the other person is intentional, hard, good, and beneficial,” Dr. Mayfield explains.
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This, in addition to spending time creating healthy habits like attending couples therapy or building communication skills, can be beneficial toward any relationship — regardless of what anniversary you last celebrated.
And if you do really feel like you are experiencing the seven year itch, know that this doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. In fact, Dr. Strongin says it can even be a good time to re-prioritize the health of the relationship through things like therapy.
“The seven year itch can be normal or abnormal depending on the real issues causing the itch. This is often a great time to communicate with one another on what's causing some of the dissatisfied feelings,” Dr. Strongin says. “If that becomes difficult — this is a great time to begin therapy and get some help in narrowing down the issue and addressing it head on. Couples therapy is extremely effective when couples are motivated to work on their relationship.”
Related video: How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help improve your life (provided by WZZM-TV Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek)
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