How to survive 7 years of marriage… you must be wondering why that specific number. Sure it roused a curiosity in you and brought you here. To decode that and all the other questions around marriage and life, we have a fascinating interview for you here.
Dr Kalpana Khatwani, an eminent clinical psychologist, answers that crucial question – how do the first 7 years of marriage go? Read on to find out.
7 Years Of Marriage – What Happens?
The happily ever after that you see in movies isn’t actually at all how life goes. Yes, the love, the persistence and the respect in a relationship remain. But there are a lot of chemical fluxes, changes with time and the tremendously difficult work-life balance with kids take over. The first 7 years of marriage evolve on a very specific trajectory and that is what we are going to talk about today. In this question and answer round with Dr. Khatwani, let’s dive right in.
1. How do you see love serving the marriage, especially in love marriages? And what is the significance of hormonal aging?
First, there is falling in love, which is a chemical process – endorphins, oxytocin, etc. Everything is abundant in the beginning. That can’t last forever. There are people for whom it lasts seven to eight years. My research claims that it lasts for seven years, till a family has been started and the little ones have been nicely taken care of, then the hormone levels drop. And actually, evolution has ensured that that happens. So till the hormones are up, the couple stays together. That is what hormonal aging is about.
Once the hormones drop and say you have children within the first two years of marriage, then the child would be six or seven years old before the hormone drops, till then the baby has already been taken care of. The process of falling in love is only hormone-driven. That is completely biological. Then there is the staying in love and all that lasts for seven to eight years. After which the 7-year relationship problems might start coming in.
2. So because of hormone changes, after one or two kids, you just finish it off. And then what happens?
Then the hormone drops. Then is the next phase to see if the person truly loves the other person or not. Now comes the real person – once the hormones drop. This is the phase that most people come to us in. The seven-year-itch is actually this. In the first few years, a lot of great sex happens and while the sex is happening, more and more of this chemical is generated. Oxytocin is generated and you are on a high. You are joined at the hip. Those are indeed the beginning days of the first seven years of marriage. Then slowly, you are not joined at the hip, and with the hormonal changes, your marriage changes too.
Every person then starts finding his own role in this dynamic. Typically, women go to child-rearing, going back to bonding with other girls, and men go into their own individual spaces, going out, making money. Then before you know it, there is too much space between the two of them. That’s when they come to us, the therapists. The woman says the man is very busy with his work. And the husband says my wife is always occupied with the kids.
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3. So they don’t realize that because of these marriage and kids problems, they are drawing apart?
No, they don’t, because they are too busy with their own things. Secondly, as the hormonal rush goes down, the real person comes up and relationship arguments start. That draws them away from each other even more in this seven years of marriage period. For us, the strength of the relationship is determined not by the differences between the couple but by how they resolve their differences. That is what is truly essential for keeping a marriage strong.
4. What are these fights about?
The marriage and kids’ problems are abundant on their own. There are also some other things. The wife might say, “We have our own family now. Why do you have to go and sit with your parents after dinner? And the man may say, “Why are you constantly on the phone? Why are you always spending time with friends? Why must you shop so much, why must you be on the phone so much, why are these bills as high as they are?
Even with both of them working, phones and social media are causing a lot of distress.
5. So after seven years of marriage, the exact falling in love happens?
The hormones are not supporting us anymore. It’s like menopause when estrogen is not supporting us anymore and we become moody. The 7-year relationship problems now reveal themselves. The real mettle of the relationship will be after they are able to get off some of the big hurdles – your friends, your drinking, your parents, my parents, can we argue in healthy ways and so on and so forth.
Anything can be resolved if you resolve it healthily. No name-calling, no getting defensive, no stonewalling, no criticism – then you can resolve any differences.
Marriage can be a rocky road, it is something we are all well aware of. But who knew that it could have so much to do with your very own biology? With these insights, you now have a better understanding and an answer to your 7-year relationship problems. Moreover, if after 7 years of marriage you do realize that things are not so well off, then don’t you worry. Bonobology’s skilled panel of therapists is only a click away.
Not necessarily but it can be marked by some big changes. Adjusting after marriage in the first year is one thing. But after 7 years of marriage, newer issues come to light. Since our hormones are at play, our Biology also changes fundamentally which is when the ‘7-year itch marriage’ concept comes into play.
It represents a trajectory or a linear line of love and attachment and how that evolves. During 7 years of marriage, one seems to follow a set path where the hormones are still happy and at an all-time high. Those are perhaps the times in marriage when you are still relatively smitten and learning more about marriage itself. But with hormone changes and after 7 years of marriage – the real issues come to light.