Did you know...
... that according to The Phrase Finder, in early 19th century USA, the seven-year itch was the name of a particularly irritating and contagious skin complaint. The name was used as a metaphor for all that is annoying.
The term seven-year itch has been spoken about and largely used by many of us. It is used to describe the friction in a relationship or marriage which is referred to as 'itch'. But, every relationship goes through its shares of ups and downs. So what makes the 7-year itch stand out? Why do we really make a big deal out of it and is it for real to begin with?
Well, the 7-year itch is for real. It is a phrase that describes supreme annoyance with everything that the relationship stands for. The phrase denotes the start of a marriage which is inclined towards a downfall due to unfaithfulness or absolute incompatibility. We have tried to examine here what makes this phrase in a dictionary, a real phase in our lives.
The idea of a seven-year itch was popularized by Marilyn Monroe's iconic movie with the same name. However, it largely is a term that gives an approximation of a time-frame for how long fidelity and interest last in a marriage or a relationship. Many begin to experience the itch before completion of seven years.
For some, it is two years into the marriage, and for some it could be five. To understand the reality of this problem, it is important to dissect and understand how it really happens.
The Reality of the Seven-year Itch...
Love is both an emotional and chemical reaction. The physical manifestation of love - romance, attachment, and sex - are a result of reactions in the ventral tegmental area, hypothalamus, the nucleus accumbens, and other areas of the brain. The surrealistic pictures of romance are very much painted by the ventral tegmental area and the nucleus accumbens.
They do so with a neurotransmitter named dopamine. It is responsible for instigating emotional responses such as pleasure, obsession, depression, and longing. When the feeling of a slight attachment gets encouraged by the hypothalamus - which controls lust and sexual feelings - we tend to get clingy and emotional about our relationships.
However, the effects of dopamine last only for a short while. Additionally, as the hypothalamus calms down, we enter the intimate phase of a relationship. This is the time when we begin to notice other things about that person, which then seem like irritations.
How it Emotionally Unfolds
After seven years in a relationship, while interacting with each other, we unknowingly begin to follow a pattern of behavior, turning into creatures of habit. Communication gets infrequent with the advent of kids, demanding careers and need for personal space. At this juncture, when either of the spouse begins to feel bored or left out, trouble begins.
In a move to deal with this boredom, the spouse may begin to wander in the direction of attention and care. For instance, your husband will go out often with his friends and your wife will tend to spend relaxing days at the spas with her friends.
Every time there is a little scope for a heated, but a heart-to-heart discussion, it gets avoided, till it finally reaches a stage of cold war. So, until the situation thaws, both the husband and wife will begin to find solace through external means. In cases when the cold war gets colder and brutal, most couples enter the stage of a blame game.
The Blame Game
This is one of the physically taxing phases of being married. The fighting, screaming, and blaming one another leave little room for any happy moments. When this continues for a long time, the whole marriage seems to tumble like a deck of cards.
The happier moments spent with each other get clouded with constant arguments and friction. Show of anger takes a passive aggressive turn, where one finds different ways of hurting the other. The boredom gets fueled and things begin to take a downhill turn.
Non-Existent Sex Life
If this is not enough, the couple's sex-life begins to fade away. Many withhold having sex, out of anger or because it no longer excites. The stale, uninspired sex-life adds to the vexation and strain in the marriage. At this stage, the relationship can reach a point of no return.
Grass is Greener on the Other Side
The absolute boredom in the marriage and the constant bickering is a huge reason why, the grass begins to seem greener on the other side. And thus, the couples reach a point of danger where the marriage can reach its fatal end.
Either of you will look for someone else, or try figuring a way out of this marriage. Suddenly everything you've worked for so far, seems like a waste. The relationship now seems like an itch that has caused a septic wound, which cannot be nursed anymore. And thus, amputation of this infected part becomes the only option.
The seven-year itch is a metaphoric representation of a serious conflict in a relationship. It is a stage of a relationship which requires a re-check of expectations, evaluation of efforts taken so far, and balancing the equation to come out with a stronger and more mature relationship than before.