• Stage 6 - The Itch

  • There’s no consensus among experts as to why the itch may occur. Perhaps it’s a matter of timing; some couples will have successfully raised one or two children, only to realize that they don’t really want to be together any longer. Or, some couples may have spent enough time together that the relationship is no longer exciting and all of those pesky habits and traits that were tolerable through the first few years of the relationship are now like nails on a chalkboard (a.k.a. intolerable).

    At the gym someone catches “your” eye. And they are funny or think you are funny. There’s a glint in their eye as they flirt and flatter in a way your partner hasn’t for quite some time, and for parents it may be since before the kids were born. Meanwhile, your partner is getting to know the 24-year-old in marketing, who still has the fresh, dewy optimism of youth. Not to mention a firm, tight youthful body.

    The seven-year itch, they used to call it, timing those years from the start of the romance. Except that it’s not really an itch. More like a vivid, festering sore. Still, possibly dreaming of better things bored by his/her increasingly dull, lifeless, sexless partner. While the other is wondering whether there isn’t just enough time for one last shot at something hotter and better.

    Suddenly the couple is plunged into a hell of furious arguments. For parents they are conducted in a whisper in the hope that the children won’t hear. Accusations and counter-accusations, denials and rebuttals, lies and half-truths fly back and forth, while their love lay bleeding on the kitchen floor. From here, there are not too many ways for the couple to go.

    Some theories suggest that our bodies and minds develop and change every seven years. Austrian philosopher and teacher Rudolf Steiner created a theory of human development based on seven-year cycles that were associated with astrology. According to his theories, humans experience changes physically and mentally every seven years. It makes some sense that if we experience large changes in personal growth, experience, knowledge and goals every seven years, that these changes will make a couple less stable and increase the probability of infidelity. A cooperative relationship involving co-parenting can potentially suffer from the commitment problem, which means that when the costs of being in a relationship outweigh its benefits for one of the partners, this person may be tempted to call it quits. Economist Robert Frank has suggested—in a book titled Passions Within Reason: The Strategic Role of the Emotions—that romantic love evolved to provide the ultimate solution to the commitment problem, the only one that can ensure that two people stay together. Love is an irrational force that makes people want to be together no matter what the circumstances are, no matter how bad the cost-benefits ratios are. Frank argued that relationships motivated by irrational love are more successful than those motivated by material self-interest or exchange and cooperation.

    The three key ingredients in any lasting relationship are truthfulness, forgiveness and commitment. The couple hangs on through the tough times and reaps the rewards. Their jobs are going well. They’re as cash-rich as they ever have been and the possibility of Stage 7, the Awakening stage becomes available and offers the couple more than they ever dreamed.

    It’s hard to imagine that after all the time, energy, and work that goes into finding the right long term relationship, things could ever go south. But with statistics pointing to over half of all unions ending, and the itch scratching at many a long term relationship’s door, how can couples fail-safe their chances of happily ever after? The following 7-strategies may hold the answer to that very question.

    Strategy #1:          Break relationship patterns that don’t work
    Strategy #2:          Carve out quality time for each other
    Strategy #3:          Maintain your own identity
    Strategy #4:          Keep the lines of communication open
    Strategy #5:          Rebuild intimacy ongoing
    Strategy #6:          Express your needs
    Strategy #7:          Choose happiness over your need to be right

    The key to experiencing a successful relationship future lies in one simple question: Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy? Chances are, you know those people in relationships who would much rather be right than happy. They’re the ones who constantly nag, belittle and fight with their partner over every little thing. Do you want to be that person or the kind of person whose relationship is blissful because they’ve let go of the need to always have the last word, the right answer, or prove their partner wrong? By letting go of the desire to always be right at any cost, you give yourself and your partner permission to enjoy life again.  Happier relationship, more love and less stress? Sounds like a win-win!

    Couples who stay together and/or married for seven years are likely to be together for good, experts say. A study found that by the time a couple has been together that long their union is increasingly likely to last. After ten years their chance of separating has diminished to half what it was when they committed.

    A couple is at the greatest risk of separating after they have been together for four or five years, the report said, and after that their chances of a lifetime together improve. After ten years, the chance of divorce is down to 20%, and only one in 100-couples who have been married for 40-years will be parted by anything but death.