We've all heard of the 7 Year Itch, but now a new survey says you still may not be safe after passing that particular marriage milestone. Grant Thornton accountancy group looked at ninety of the country's biggest family law firms and says the average time to "itch" is actually after 12 years of matrimony.
The most common reasons for ending the marriage? No, not infidelity, which only accounted for a quarter of divorces. But rather "Falling out of love" and "Growing apart."
But Anne Milford, co-author of "How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy: Is He "the One" or Should You Run? A Guide to Living Happily Ever After" believes the itch could come at any time during your marriage. And if you're not prepared to do the work, you could find yourself in divorce court.
"I have seen people with all kinds of itches-the two year itch, the five year itch, the 25 year itch.…the number doesn't matter," she insists. "What matters is that they try to uncover the reason they are feeling bored or unhappy."
After several years together, Milford says, people start taking one another for granted. "All of the romantic gestures of courtship become things of the past. The realities of day-to-day life, finances, work stresses, child-rearing etc. all take precedence over the relationship. This itch-or sense of growing apart-is a byproduct of real-life responsibilities."
Of course, sadly, responsibilities and chores aren't going away. So how can you fight back against the itch?
"Think back to the beginning of your relationship. How did you show your love and affection for each other? Did you make your husband his favorite cookies every week? Did you rearrange your schedule to make sure you spent quality time together?" Milford asks. "Change starts with you. Think about what is missing in your relationship and try to show your spouse the same attention, love and affection you desire."
And it's vitally important, she adds, to resist the urge to seek that lost feeling of closeness outside the marriage. "Reconnecting with your college sweetheart on Facebook is not going to solve your marital problems," Milford warns.
But what if it's your spouse who's looking to leave? "If you are really struggling, find a good, nonjudgmental, therapist to give you guidance and support. If you spouse won't go, go by yourself," Milford urges. "It may take some time and effort-but the relationship can come out stronger and better than it was before."
No matter if your itch comes at year two or twelve or even twenty-five, Milford insists it's worth working at reconnecting with the one you once fell in love with and resisting that itch.
"The happiest couples I see are the ones who make the decision to love each other each day," she says. "They know there will be ups and downs, dry spells, boredom…but in the long run, their life is more peaceful when they do the work that is required to nurture and grow their relationship."
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