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Have you ever heard of the “seven year itch”?
According to Wikipedia, “Divorce rates show a trend in couples that, on average, divorce around seven years. Statistics show that there is a low risk of separation during the first months of marriage. After the “honeymoon” months, divorce rates start to increase. Most married couples experience a gradual decline in the quality of their marriage; in recent years around the fourth year of marriage. Around the seventh year, tensions rise to a point that couples either divorce or adapt to their partner.”
Simply put, whether fact or urban legend, time passes, frustrations build, and at year seven things are thought to finally reach a boiling point.
I found out about this so called “seven year itch” as we were nearing the end of our seventh year and I was intrigued. Why, you ask? Because I thought our seventh year had been the best year of marriage yet!
So, my husband and I took some time to talk over the things we did this last year that led to it being so great and what we want to keep working on so we avoid any “itchiness” in the years to come!
Seven Things to Make Year Seven The Best Yet
#1 Make intimacy a priority
You know what I’m talking about.. marital relations, bedroom time, coitus.. wink wink, nudge nudge. There is something about this God given aspect of marriage that flows over into all the other areas, helping to smooth things over and bring unity. Because of that, we (especially me) realized we needed to cut the excuses and just do it. 😉
#2 Make intentional time for just the two of us
With two young children and a seemingly always changing and busy schedule, this didn’t mean anything neat like regular planned date nights out. It looked more like ice cream and Netflix on the couch, working out together (cause of all that ice cream ya know?), working on projects around the house, and chatting while driving in the car.
Regular date nights are awesome, but I’d venture to say that there are more of us than not who are in a stage of life where it’s just not possible. So, we found that we had to be intentional about using the small moments we did have, or we’d end up living two separate lives in the same house.
#3 Be more positive with each other (the 5-1 ratio)
A while back my husband had a training at work where they talked about how it is optimal to say five positive comments for every one negative comment. They don’t need to be elaborate praises either. A simple “thanks” or “good job” will do just as well.
This is something that we have been working on, but need to keep getting better at! I think it is so easy to get into the habit of taking your spouse for granted. You get into that day to day rut and forget to take note of the positive. However, it is amazing what a difference such a simple thing can make. It can totally change the atmosphere of your home.
#4 Have quality family time
In addition to having one on one time with your spouse, family time in general is so important. Seeing your spouse care for your kids just brings about those warm fuzzy feelies. Being together draws you all closer together. So, put down the phones, turn off the tv, and do something. This year, we found that taking walks and having less TV time made a big difference for our family.
#5 Spend time figuring out what makes your spouse tick
After those initial fun “getting to know you” dating days, it is easy to stop learning more about your spouse. However, the more you know about each other, the closer you can become! I love that my husband knows me better than anyone else! Plus, having an understanding of how my husband works (and him me) has saved us from a ton of unnecessary conflict.
If you are looking for ways to get to know each other even better, I highly recommend the personality test the Enneagram. It is the most in-depth, spot on personality test I have ever used. You can get started digging into it at the website 9types.com but I highly recommend the book “The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective” by Richard Rohr. Author Shauna Niequist also has a great overview of the enneagram here.
#6 Pray more together
I’ll admit, we did way way better at this in the early days of our marriage. We seriously could use some improvement in this area because I know how important it is to make God the center of your marriage. I think these ideas from Sheila at To Love, Honor, and Vacuum are great and we need to get started working on this asap!
#7 Talk about the big stuff
Intentionally discuss the big topics. Have healthy fights. Get on the same page in life.
You can’t avoid these types of discussions because of the possible conflict they might bring. In fact, we’ve found that it is often because of these healthy conflicts, not in spite of them, that we grow closer together.
This also includes things like making marriage and family goals. Where do we see ourselves in 5 (10, 15, 20) years? What do we want to work on this year? How can we improve? What goals do we have in the big areas of parenting, faith, money, and health? Tackling these goals as a team can make all the difference.
What about you? Have you ever heard of the 7 year itch? What have you found to be important for building a steadfast marriage?
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