Bye Bye, 7 Year Itch! The New Hardest Relationship Year


couple holding handsSorry to burst your bright pink, heart-shaped bubble. But by now, you should know -- especially with the rate of divorce being what it is -- that a relationship isn't always going to be sunny, blue skies, sexy text messages, and romantic surprises. At some point, it's going to get a little more, hmmm ... challenging.

There was a time when I didn't completely understand that. You see, when my boyfriend and I hadn't been together even six months, we were hanging out with a couple who had been together about four years at that point. They looked at us as we casually held hands, and I leaned my head on his shoulder, and they said, "Awww, look -- they're still in the honeymoon phase!"

At the time, I grimaced a little and thought, "Huh? What does that mean?? I plan to be holding his hand like this and feeling 100 percent warm-and-fuzzy about him for years to come! Hrrmph!"

But oh ... did they have a point! While in Marilyn Monroe's day, it was a Seven-Year Itch, these days, a survey of 2,000 adults in long-term relationships reveals that the warm-and-fuzzy begins to fall flat after three years.

The reason: Thanks to modern, stressful life, the rate at which romance declines is more rapid now, these love gurus say. Post-three years, couples begin to take each other for granted more, they fight 2.7 hours a week vs. 1.2 for those who are still in the first stages of love, and sadly, for most couples (at least in this study), it seems the bedroom becomes less and less a priority.

Three-plus'ers have less than a third as much sex than newer couples and 55 percent admit they are so busy that they have to "schedule" time together for romance. (Schedule schmedule! As long as they're doing it, who cares, right?)

Sixty-seven percent of couples say that habits of their partner that they once considered endearing or harmless become major turn-offs by the three-year mark. Those habits include snoring, stray nail clippings (ewwughhhghh!), and "overexposure to in-laws." Okay, fair enough on the first two; however, neither of those could have possibly been considered endearing/harmless in the first place. And the third, well, is that usually your partner's fault or the in-laws' fault? I would lean toward the latter.

Even though the results of this survey are a bit questionable, as it was "commissioned to mark the release of new movie Hall Pass," I can definitely attest to the validity of some of these findings.

After having been with my boyfriend for four years now, I have to say that the past year has definitely been our roughest. It's the level of comfort we have now that has changed things ... for better or worse. Instead of biting my tongue like I would have in the past, I'll address what's bothering me. Sometimes that escalates into what I guess you could call a fight, but we rarely raise our voices to one another.

Living together obviously factors in, too. When you're apart, and you only see one another on the weekend, of course you're going to jump each other every chance you get. But when you spend seven days and seven nights with someone, you both work full-time, you have dirty dishes in the sink that pile up over and over and over again ... well, sorry, then things just aren't as glossy-sexy. I'm not saying they CAN'T be. They should be!

But to make it happen, my boyfriend and I have had to try harder. Prioritize time together, reminding ourselves not just to flop down in front of the couch every evening and zone out. We have to remember to communicate, connect, check-in with one another ...  It's not constant psychoanalysis, but it's remembering to say, "Thank you," "I love you," "How are you?" Seems so simple, but when we're so distracted with the hustle-bustle of every day, it can quickly fade away. But it's exactly what I think a long-term relationship -- at least ours -- needs to function.

What do you think about the three-year itch?

Image via Rachel Davies/Flickr

marriage, love, sex, turn-offs, turn-ons


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Misteh Misteh

My husband and I did not have a three year-itch. We've made it to four years just fine and it's silly to think of just four years as a major milestone.

mylil... mylilgooberpea

Yup this is my DH and i to a "T". We have been married 6 and almost a half years and i deff saw the3 year itch! We are currently at the 7 year bump now though, and let me tell you its ROUGH! Being a military family we kind of go through the 3 and seven year bumps earlier than most couples. But both of us believe in the power of marriage vows and ment every word we said on our wedding day. LOL even if right now we are asking ourselves what were we thinking?!?!!? LOL My Grandma said to me that even though times are diff even for Grandpa and her marriage was work. It wasnt all rainbows and bunny tails. Ive never seen 2 people in love. If they can do it, and yes ive heard some of their stories, so can DH and I !!! 

biker... bikerchickmommy

DH and i were togather for 6  and so far six years married so that = 12 years i think we've made it waaaaay past the three year and seven year itch and still going strong.

Jessica Wurth Tiemann

We have been married 6 1/2 years and for us, each year has been better. We did have a horrible first year though, due to a miscarriage that ripped open a lot of stuff/drama for us. Once we healed from that though, it's been going good. I hope we don't hit a bump in the next couple years,  with a toddler and another baby on the way I don't need any drama.

mommix4 mommix4

I think problems start when people go into a marriage with unrealistic expectations. Marriage is work not all romance. We've been married for 12yrs on the 28th and together for 14yrs. We've had rough times but we've also had great times. For us we respect each other and we know neither of us are perfect. I know that if we have made it to 12yrs after a teen pregnancy,separation years ago, 4 children, loosing twins and life it can be done!

nonmember avatar angie

i believe in the 3 year itch! here's the thing though - i really believe that ANY year can have an itch if you're not putting yourself into it. my hubby and i have been married 6 1/2 years, and we were together for about 5 before that. oh, we had our blow outs... married people just do! but it's how you react to it, and how you let it affect you that has the most meaning. we don't fight a lot at ALL - and honestly, i'm happier in my marriage now than i've ever been. but it's work, people! you don't get to be married and enjoy it for all its worth in just the first 3 years! you get out of it what you put into it.

people treat marriage like it's so easy to shrug off now - you don't like your partner, let him/her go and get a new one. it's all about instant gratification now, which is why marriage isn't what it used to be. take your vows seriously, people!

nonmember avatar Paula/adhocmom

Yeah, can totally see that. It's easy peasy to be all happy/touchy feely for a couple of years. I'd say reality sets in around year three for sure.

Ether... EtherealFantasy

I agree with this in a way but I can't help but wonder if it really depends on your situation. After 3yrs of marriage the hubby & I went through a horrible time! I lost all 3 grandparents during 2007 and on top of that was pregnant with our 2nd child. I lost my 2 grandmothers before I had our dd. Then when I had her I almost died then almost 2 wks later lost my grandfather. So I ended up having ppd. Well then the husband does something stupid and loses his job. Then things just escalated from there. Here it is 2011 and we just have started getting our marriage back on track...

So yeah I can agree with it.

Gina Dorsey

Hubby and I are going on 10 years and we still hold hands and cuddle. yes life is stressful but if you face together there's nothing you can't cant accomplish, the ultimate stress buster: Lots of sex.

Lawry Smiley

I agree whole heartedly that its your personal situtation that creates the prob my dh and i have been together just shy of  4 yrs and this past year has been HELL but we are working thru and things are looking up and alot brighter. 

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