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Family & Relationships How To Spot — and Avoid — The Dreaded "Seven-Year Itch" In A Relationship

21:05  21 february  2020
21:05  21 february  2020 Source:   womansday.com

She was pregnant and terribly itchy. Something was going very wrong.

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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 person sitting on a table: It's important to understand the seven-year itch so you can avoid similar pitfalls in your own relationship — no matter how long you’ve been with your partner. © PeopleImages It's important to understand the seven-year itch so you can avoid similar pitfalls in your own relationship — no matter how long you’ve been with your partner.

Dr. Mark Mayfield, 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.”

a woman sitting on a couch: In therapy, the seven-year itch is a term used to discuss the growth — or lack of it — of a relationship. © NoSystem images In therapy, the seven-year itch is a term used to discuss the growth — or lack of it — of a relationship.

Despite whether the seven year itch is in fact “real” or not, licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Marianna Strongin sees 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.”

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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.

Depending on what’s causing the seven-year itch, it can be easy to overcome. © Maskot Depending on what’s causing the seven-year itch, it can be easy to overcome.

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.”

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