When Couples Separate: Is There Still a Seven Year Itch?

Although life has changed a great deal over the years, married people are still frequently calling it quits around the famed seven-year mark. The phenomenon is often referred to as the “seven-year itch”. It takes its name from the title of a Marilyn Monroe movie where a man, happily married for seven years, leaves his wife for Monroe.

Even though the movie was made over fifty years ago, the unfortunate separation of couples around the seven-year mark continues to be commonplace. Recent census data reveals that couples in marriages that ended in divorce were together a median of seven years before separation, and eight years until the divorce.

So what happens to couples around the seven-year mark? Marriage experts suggest that marital tensions may develop years earlier, but it isn’t until around the seventh year that many couples finally decide they have had enough and it is time to separate.

There are a variety of causes of stress in marriages that have lasted several years. In particular, the rearing of young children can take its toll on young couples. Spouses spend more time away from one another as they focus on the kids, financial resources may be further strained, and spouses may disagree about family values and proper parenting techniques.

As the average age people marry rises, gender roles further evolve, and expectations of marriage continue to shift, it will be interesting if the “seven-year itch” continues to plague the next generation of marriages.

Source: The Boston Globe,┬áThe magic number when the magic’s gone, Beth Teitell, 29 July 2011

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