“Is there really such a thing as the seven-year itch?” Family law attorneys are asked this question all the time. The catch-phrase is commonly used by psychologists to refer to a declining interest in remaining married after a seven-year period of time. Many recall the iconic film starring Marilyn Monroe with the same title. This question has eluded audiences for years, and is probably the one people most often ask me.
In my 13 years practicing family law, my experience has been that people get divorced for a number of reasons at various periods of time during marriage. There are long marriages and there are short ones. That said, there are patterns with people seeking a divorce. Two of the most common points of origin are, ironically, the seven-year time period and major life changes such as big remodeling projects or babies.
If you have successfully undergone a massive home renovation or celebrated more than seven years of marriage together and remain in a happy intact marriage, congratulations. This is not to say that you will never experience struggle or conflict in your marriage, but you have the tools to navigate challenging circumstances successfully.
Examples of high profile celebrities who separated on or around the seven-year mark:
· Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore
· Danica Patrick and Paul Hospenthal
· Heidi Klum and Seal
· Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillipe
· Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony
Whether or not these relationships ended because of a declining interest in remaining monogamous, is difficult to determine, but tabloid reports suggest infidelity may have been a cause in some of these cases.
In the film, “The Seven-Year Itch,” the middle aged leading actor, who had been married around seven years, put the theory to the test as he famously flirted with the iconic Marilyn Monroe while his wife and son were vacationing for the summer in Maine. In the end, although he was lured by the beautiful Monroe (or at least by his fantasy of her), he decided to stay with his wife and family.
Is there any truth to the “seven-year itch?” Most family law attorneys who deal with real people going through divorces every day would likely say, “Yes!” On some level, my experience has shown that people do tend to stray from marriage around this period of time. Does it ultimately end in divorce? Not always. The most important thing is always to be aware.
Whether it is seven years, or a life stress such as a new baby or major home remodel, be attuned to your marriage. If you sense a disconnect, acknowledge it and try to work it out before the itch becomes unbearable.