There’s often talk about the “seven year itch.” The idea is that, when you’re in a relationship for seven years, you start to second-guess yourself at the seven-year mark. Maybe you begin itching for a change. Perhaps you’re compelled to re-evaluate your relationship (and yourself) with more scrutiny than before. While American data points to the seven year itch being quite real for American marriages, I’d like to discuss the possibility of the “itch” being more about one person and his or her life than the relationship as a whole. Let's look together to answer the question, "Is the 7 year itch real?" once and for all. Like I mentioned, American data (specifically the financial data compiled by Credit Donkey) shows a clear trend: the majority of divorces that happen in the USA actually occur in the eighth year of marriage. Then we have Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher, who created a theory in which humans physically and mentally change every seven years. If one person in a partnership is on a different, or even the same, seven-year development cycle, it makes sense that things may get a little rocky – especially when the changes happen to be large.
Now, friend, I’m absolutely not saying that every relationship and every marriage will become intolerable and result in divorce after seven years because we all know that’s not the case! What I am suggesting, however, is a need for both single people and people in relationships to better understand their personal growth, development and goals. This will help us not only better navigate through life, but it will make us better communicators and partners as well.
Speaking from personal experience, I can look back at my life so far and easily identify periods of change. And, you know what? They happen about every seven years. Who you are at 21, just coming out of your teenaged years, can be vastly different than who you are at 28 – just about ready to enter your 30s. Who you are at 35 is likely different, again, from who you are at 43. It’s natural and healthy to grow a little restless and to experience a change in your outlook and goals. Also, who you are at 21 vs 43 can be very similar but it might just look different. In my own life, I can definitely see that the quest for adventure was there at 21 and still is but it just looks different now.
Think of your immediate group of friends for a moment. It’s likely, much like I do, that you know at least one person who hates the idea of change – perhaps they’re even scared of it. They likely find great comfort in things staying exactly the same and waking up each and every day to the same routine. If, one day, they were to wake up and begin to crave great change, without even understanding why, I’m sure it would be unsettling. Their life perspective would shift, their relationships may become strained and their personality may evolve.
Now, think back to your group of friends – or even family members. Again, much like I can identify this personality trait, you likely know someone who regularly seeks change and grows restless extremely quickly. Perhaps this person doesn’t really know what they want and figures they won’t know ‘til it’s right in front of them. Perhaps they’re afraid of their life becoming “stagnant.” Whatever the case, imagine how this person may feel if they had a partner with a similar lust for constant change only to find, one day, that one of them now just wanted everything to slow down and settle. Naturally, it would create challenges.
What I recommend doing regularly, not just every seven years, is sitting down and really connecting with yourself. Ask yourself these questions:
“How happy are you...really?”
“What could you be doing to lead a happier, fuller life today?”
And, if you’re in a relationship, ask yourself these as well:
“Why do you love your partner?” (asking "Why" brings you closer to the positive feeling of all the reasons you chose your partner)
“How could you reinforce (or remind!) yourself and your partner the positive reasons you chose each other?”
"Can you identify the areas of growth and frame them as that, as opposed to seeing change as a negative?"
A strong understanding of not only who you are right now, but who your partner is as well, is necessary for success. But, you also need to leave a good amount of space for changing and evolving. Just as you’re not the same now as you were seven or fourteen years ago, it makes perfect sense that who you’ll be – single or as a partnership – is bound to change seven years from now. The key is being able to see the positive in that –the space for growth as a partnership instead of growing away from the partnership.
To your authenticity,