How to survive 7 years of marriage… you must be wondering why that specific number. It it aroused some curiosity in you and brought you here, didn’t it? What is it about the number 7 that is so pivotal in marriages? Well, well, well. Have you ever heard of the 7-year itch in marriages? The first few years in a marriage are often rosy as you two bloom together. But cut to the 7th year, and you’ve suddenly found yourself in one of the hardest years of marriage.
And we have studies to back that up too. Wondering how the third year of your marriage still feels like a honeymoon, despite the fact that there’s a wailing baby on the way? Well, According to a new study by U.K. law firm Slater & Gordon, married couples are happiest in their third year of marriage. But then, another question comes up again. What is the hardest year of marriage?
To decode that timeline 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; how do they unfold? And which are the hardest years of marriage? Read on to find out.
7 Years Of Marriage – What Really Happens?
The happily ever after that you see in movies isn’t actually how life goes…at all. 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, that eventually 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 understand how a marriage goes through its ups and downs. 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. That’s why the hardest years of marriage start after year 7. 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.
Let’s 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 comes the next phase to see if the person truly loves the other person or not. Now we get to see the real person, once the hormones drop. It is at this phase where most people come to us in. The 7-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 blissful days of the first 7 years of marriage. Then slowly, you are not joined at the hip anymore, 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 drawn apart?
No, they don’t, because they are too busy with their own things. They don’t even realize that the hardest years of marriage have dawned upon them.
Secondly, as the hormonal rush goes down, the real person on the inside starts revealing themselves, and soon, relationship arguments start. That draws them away from each other even more during this 7 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 out to the pub with your friends? Why do you always 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 7 years of marriage, the exact falling in love happens?
Not really; this is the time when the relationship is tested the most, actually.
At this point, the hormones are not supporting us anymore, which is why the hardest years of marriage start. 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 through 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 approach 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 going so well, 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.
After 7 years, is when the hardest years of marriage or toughest years of a relationship begin to kick in. This is the time when a couple is really tested. The relationship high wears off and the couple starts realizing the issues in the marriage. Lack of time for oneself, kids, and increased responsibilities can make a couple start feeling weary.
The average length of a marriage in the US is 8.2 years, according to this website.
According to this source, we learn that there are two periods during a marriage when divorces are most common: years 1 – 2 and years 5 – 8.