Welcome to marriage fact or fiction! I am starting a weekly series to either confirm or debunk marital myths. Enjoy!
It is popular belief that marriages suffer from the “seven year itch.” This is the belief that couples start to develop difficulty in their marriage at the seven year mark. Boredom may set in which may lead to seeking outside interests including affairs, conflict may worsen, and intimacy may decrease or even die. As a counselor who works with married couples every day, I would love to say that this belief is not true but, there is some truth to the seven year itch.
When couples first meet each other, they tend to fall head over heels in love with one another. This is the enmeshment phase. It is like the honeymoon period. We cannot get enough of each other, we spend all of our time together, and it is what love songs are written about. The problem is (yes, believe it or not there is a problem with this stage) that people do not see or think clearly when they are enmeshed with another person. Our brain acts like an addict brain at this point; we are addicted to the other person. The issue with this is we do not see the other person clearly as who they are. Maybe they have a problem with drinking, but we do not see it because our brain rationalizes why their drinking is okay. They may be emotionally unavailable, but again because our brain is in an addictive mode we do not see it.
Enmeshment can last different lengths of time for different couples. The average time is around seven years. Ding, Ding, Ding. Exactly why there is some truth to the seven year itch. When enmeshment wears off what we have is the real person we married staring us in the face, the person with the alcohol addiction or the person who is really emotionally unavailable. So often we go into marriage thinking we will be in that honeymoon period forever and it will always feel that good. The truth is it will always wear off at some point and it tends to cause difficulty in marriage. But trust me, marriages are difficult. But it is NORMAL! Your marriage is not doomed when the honeymoon period is over, but it forces you to look at the issues you have and your spouse has. These issues have been there all along, just neither of you have been able to see them due to the enmeshment. After the enmeshment wears off, it is time for the work in marriage to begin.
If your seven year itch is starting, come in and learn more about what is really going on. Also, if you have any ideas or topics you would like me to discuss about fact or fiction in marriage, please send those to me and I will address them! [email protected]