Saturday, 17 March 2012

Does "the seven year itch" really exist?

During my therapy class, our tutor wanted to see how many of us were at ages which were divisible by 7. None of us were, which he said was a good thing, as most people's lives go through great change in 7 year cycles. So I started thinking about the symbolic nature of the number 7....

Whilst flicking through Grazia the other day, a couple of celebrity stories struck me; Heidi Klum and Seal break up after 7 years of marriage; Jonny and Vanessa's marriage in trouble after 14 years. I wondered is there anything about the number 7 here? Let me say straight off the back that my lucky number is 7 (the number of the house where I grew up), so that's an odd one for starters!

We all know the term "the 7 year itch", so I started to look for other celebrity divorces with the same pattern. And apart from Harrison Ford's divorce after 21 years of marriage (ouch!) none of the others seemed to match the pattern. In fact quite a few were seven plus or minus 1, so for instance
  • Michael Douglas: 22 years
  • Tiger Woods: 6 years 
  • Donald Trump: 15 "Ivana"years, 
  • Madonna (the Ritchie marriage not the Sean Penn one!): 8 years
  • Paul McCartney (sorry Heather!): 6 years
And then I discovered a study done by Warner Brothers (in aid of promoting a film of course (not for any scientific purpose)!) which concluded that it was not "the 7 year itch" that counted by "the 3 year glitch"

The survey of 2,000 British couples showed that it was around the 3 year mark when stress levels were at their peak. 67% of those surveyed said that small irritations which are seemingly harmless and often endearing during the first flushes of love often expand into major irritations around 36 months.

The top 5 everyday niggles and passion-killers were 1. Weight gain/lack of exercise 2. Money & Spend thriftiness 3. Anti-social working hours 4. Hygiene issues (personal cleanliness) 5. In-Laws/extended family - too much/too little.

So it seems "the 7 year itch" has been replaced with a much shorter time frame of 3 years. For me, this may be representative of the speed in which our society operates these days and our need for immediate satisfaction compared to 20 or 30 years ago.  Though I doubt that's much comfort for Heidi, Seal or Jonny and Vanessa. Sorry guys!

Also another point to ponder is repressing the bigger issues in your relationship will cause the anger to inevitably come out sooner or later when you least expect it. So next time you find yourself erupting into a fit of rage at your other half about doing the washing up, stop and think what this could really be about?

Till next month....

Take care

Peace and love