Overcoming the Seven Year Itch in Your Relationship (2024)

The seven-year itch or 7-year itch refers to the notion that divorce rates reach their height around the seven-year mark of commitment. While this concept has been widely disputed, it is a concern that plagues many if they start experiencing marital issues seven years into their relationship.

The seven-year itch doesn't necessarily refer to a desire to divorce—it can refer to major relationship issues such as conflict, cheating, or irreparable differences. Issues like these may become illuminated during the seven-year itch.

While relationship challenges can be tough to navigate, it is possible to get through the seven-year itch.

Where Did the Concept of Seven-Year Itch Come From?

While the seven-year itch is a popular term, there is some uncertainty regarding its validity. While most relationships involve overcoming challenges, it's uncertain if they always occur seven years into a relationship.

Let's look at how and when this concept appeared in popular culture.

Anecdotal Experiences Popularized the Seven-Year Itch

Research has documented a pattern of divorce rates being low at the beginning of a relationship, rising over time until it reaches a climax, and then falling back down again.

Formative psychological theories and anecdotal public experiences have led many to believe that seven years is the breaking point where most married couples get divorced. This theory has become highly popularized.

'The Seven Year Itch' Starring Marilyn Monroe

In 1955, a film titled after the phenomenon starring Marilyn Monroe, was released. A key plot point involves a man lusting after women he is not married to. His desires are validated by a manuscript written by a male psychiatrist who hypothesized all men cheat on their wives in the seventh year of marriage.

While the first significant reference to the seven-year itch in media presents the idea of men being affected by the seven-year itch, no research states that this concept only applies to one gender identity.

Additionally, no evidence states the seven-year itch specifically applies to infidelity.

Why Do Married People Cheat?

Is the Seven-Year Itch Real?

The answer is: it's hard to know for sure. There isn’t any conclusive evidence that shows the seven-year itch is real. But there also isn’t evidence that states it isn’t.

First, let’s explore what leaves researchers stumped in determining if the seven-year itch is real.

Many People View Divorce Differently

A study published in the Demographyjournal displayed some skepticism, noting that there may be flaws in studies conducted that showed a spike in divorce around year seven. Additionally, it raised the question of what information is being left out of research endorsing the seven-year itch.

For example, many people view divorce differently. Some people are against divorce, and others don't find divorce to be as big of a moral issue. So for someone who doesn’t find divorce highly stigmatizing or someone who is highly ambitious to the point that their relationships suffer, divorce might be more likely for them anyway.

Another example raised in a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Familyconsidered that young women who have yet to have children in their marriage may also be more prone to divorce, with the logic being they may want to seek out a new relationship to have children elsewhere.

So, Is It Real?

So, with all of these variables, how real is the seven-year itch? Well, research showed that divorce peaked around the fifth year of marriage. But, Whether it is the fifth or seventh, it is agreed upon that divorce rates peak at some point in a relationship.

Does the Seven-Year Itch Only Apply to Marriage?

Yes, the seven-year itch is most commonly applied to marriages, and there isn’t much research on long-term relationships ending around the seven-year mark.

How Might the Seven-Year Itch Apply to Unmarried Couples?

When the idea of the seven-year itch was initially popularized, like in the 1950s when the Monroe-starring film was released, it was uncommon for couples to live together before marriage. Therefore, this concept originated when couples began cohabitating right when they began their marriage.

But now, premarital cohabitation is much more common. So, while there isn’t a wealth of research noting what happens to relationships with couples who aren’t married around the seven-year mark, one can reasonably suspect that people who live together may experience similar relationship issues at the seven-year mark.

How to Build a Relationship Based on Interdependence

How to Overcome the Seven-Year Itch in Your Relationship

Some couples can find themselves concerned if their arguments spike or their chemistry fizzles around the seven-year mark. However, with a proactive approach, there are ways to safeguard your relationship against any issues you may find yourself up against.

Try Individual and/or Couple's Therapy

Therapy, both together and individually, can be helpful. If either one of you has major life stressors or unresolved trauma, it is a good idea to seek out some support. This can ensure that neither of you is dumping your stressors onto the other.

If you have clashing values, tense communication, or even sexual dissatisfaction, a couples therapist could be a great fit. You can find one specializing in intercultural marriages, communication issues, or sex therapy.

A healthy relationship is a shared responsibility; all parties should work together to seek support. Otherwise, resentment could build, only adding to a soured relationship dynamic.

Maintain Open and Respectful Communication

Be sure to maintain open communication with one another and prioritize respect for each other. Let the other person know, non-confrontationally, what you need.

Moreover, speak about your partner respectfully when they aren’t around. Not only does this follow the golden rule of treating others how you’d like to be treated, but it also can minimize any risks of drama spreading throughout your immediate circle.

Is Your Relationship Worth Saving?

2 Sources

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Kulu H. Marriage duration and divorce: the seven-year itch or a lifelong itch? Demography. 2014;51(3):881-893. doi:10.1007/s13524-013-0278-1.

  2. Lavner JA, Bradbury TN. Patterns of change in marital satisfaction over the newlywed years. J Marriage Fam. 2010;72(5):1171-1187. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00757.x

Overcoming the Seven Year Itch in Your Relationship (1)

By Julia Childs Heyl, MSW
Julia Childs Heyl, MSW, is a clinical social worker and writer. As a writer, she focuses on mental health disparities and uses critical race theory as her preferred theoretical framework. In her clinical work, she specializes in treating people of color experiencing anxiety, depression, and trauma through depth therapy and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) trauma therapy.

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Overcoming the Seven Year Itch in Your Relationship (2024)


What is the 7 year rule in relationships? ›

The seven-year itch or 7-year itch refers to the notion that divorce rates reach their height around the seven-year mark of commitment. While this concept has been widely disputed, it is a concern that plagues many if they start experiencing marital issues seven years into their relationship.

What is the 7 year crisis in a relationship? ›

The seven-year itch is the idea that after seven years in a relationship, whether that's as a married couple or cohabitees, we start to become restless. Bored perhaps. Everything begins to feel a little bit mundane or routine. Anecdotally, it's said we're more likely to go our separate ways around this time.

How to get an over 7 year relationship? ›

How to Get Over a Breakup
  1. Talk about it with people you trust — or strangers you'll never see again. ...
  2. Make plans. ...
  3. Get a hobby. ...
  4. Make a breakup playlist. ...
  5. Sign up for a few dating apps — or try dating without them. ...
  6. Work through it with a therapist. ...
  7. Stop texting your ex. ...
  8. Know that it takes time to move on.
Mar 13, 2024

What year is the hardest in a relationship? ›

In that time, I've noticed something: the prime number years of relationships are often the hardest (i.e. 1, 3. 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29…) Often, it seems these years correspond with significant transitions and pressure points in marriage.

How to get out of the seven year itch? ›

Set aside time to talk on a daily basis, even if it's just 20 minutes. Take time to get dressed up and go out on dates. If a marriage succumbs to the seven year itch, it's most likely because the couple turned a blind eye to their problems instead of solving them."

What is the 7 year itch period in a relationship? ›

The seven-year itch is a popular belief, sometimes quoted as having psychological backing, that happiness in a marriage or long-term romantic relationship declines after around seven years.

What year do most relationships end? ›

At the three, seven, 11 and 15-year marks

“When couples call it quits early on, such as [during] years two or three, they generally have not learned how to resolve conflict. The honeymoon phase has worn off, and past resentments start to overwhelm the relationship,” Polinder says.

How long does it take to heal from a 7 year relationship? ›

“I try and go by the 6-month rule, which says that for most of us to fully heal, it usually takes around 6 months for every year we are with someone,” Peaco*ck says.

Why do couples divorce after 7 years? ›

Neither spouse is who they were when they got married, and who they've become may no longer align with one another's goals. Life may also start to feel boring instead of comfortable. One partner or the other may feel little to no motivation to spend with their spouse and may start spending more time away from home.

What is the 7 year itch disease? ›

A scabies infestation causes intense itching (pruritus) which leads to scratching and damage of the skin (excoriation). If left untreated, the infestation may last for years, and has been called the seven year itch. This is a photomicrograph of a skin scraping that contains a scabies mite, eggs, and feces.

What is stage 7 in a relationship? ›

Stage 7: Crisis and Recovery in a Relationship

Stage seven is a stage that actually can come at any point in the relationship. And that's the crisis and recovery stage. That can be any time when there's a big transition, any time there's trauma within the relationship. It can be a trauma outside of the relationship.

How to get over a broken heart when you still love him? ›

As you cope with the loss of a relationship, these tips may help you on your journey to healing.
  1. Take time to grieve. ...
  2. Find a new source of joy. ...
  3. Make a list of what you like about yourself. ...
  4. Acknowledge thoughts about your former partner. ...
  5. Express your needs to others. ...
  6. Turn your attention toward others. ...
  7. Allow emotions to flow.

How to let go someone you love? ›

10 tips for letting go of someone you care about
  1. Put yourself first. Feeling like you're letting someone down or hurting someone you care for is challenging. ...
  2. Let yourself grieve. ...
  3. Seek out support. ...
  4. Stay busy. ...
  5. Forgive. ...
  6. Learn from your mistakes. ...
  7. Consider cutting contact. ...
  8. Find your happy place.
Jun 7, 2023

How to break up a relationship without hurting? ›

What's the Best Way to Break Up?
  1. Be true to yourself. Even if the other person might be hurt by your decision, it's OK to do what's right for you.
  2. Think about how the other person might react. Do you think they might cry? ...
  3. Be gentle and honest — but not brutal. ...
  4. Say it in person. ...
  5. Confide in someone you trust.

What causes the 7 year itch? ›

First, it's important to understand the reasons that lead to this state of affairs in the first place. Our friend and fellow family lawyer Raymond Hekmat notes four major causes behind the 7 (or 4)-year itch: Lack of communication, miscommunication, financial stress, and declines in intimacy (Hekmat, 2022).

What happens after the 7 year itch? ›

Divorcing couples stay married for an average of 8 years.

The seven-year itch refers to the popular belief that marital bliss tends to dissipate after about seven years together. At that point, the propensity for infidelity and or divorce is thought to rise.

How does the seven year itch end? ›

The move is hardly subversive – it ends with Richard fleeing The Girl to reunite with his wife and son – but at least it recognizes that even for the most resolutely determined among us, that thumb is occasionally going to twitch.

How long does it take to get over a 7 year relationship? ›

“I try and go by the 6-month rule, which says that for most of us to fully heal, it usually takes around 6 months for every year we are with someone,” Peaco*ck says.


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