6 Ways to Beat the 5-Year Itch

Hold up! Just because your relationship hit a bumpy road, it doesn't you should throw in the towel.Hold up! Just because your relationship hit a bumpy road, it doesn't you should throw in the towel.Experts say important milestones in your relationship, like a five-year anniversary, are when you typically evaluate things. Luckily, the eval doesn't always end like Katie and Tom-sometimes being honest about your love life's shortcomings (and fixing them) can make you and your man even stronger. Here are the signs you have the five-year itch-and what to do about them.

By Korin Miller

The Blinders Are Off
Whether you're dating or married, at the five-year mark, you're more aware of the things that are tripping up your relationship, says Bethany Marshall, PhD, author of Deal Breakers. Of course, no relationship is perfect, but if things are dysfunctional, you might realize that you're working harder than he is to fix things. A good sign: When you're both trying hard to make things better.

You Suddenly Want to Do Your Own Thing
Everyone does it, says Marshall-you kind of lose yourself in the relationship for the first few years because a) it's exciting and b) you want to work hard to make it work. But after five years or so, you realize that you need to have your own life, too. If your man is supportive of that, great; if he isn't, that's pretty telling.

Related: The Best Relationship Advice Ever

You Can't Get Over an Issue
Only you truly know whether something is a dealbreaker or not, like Scientology reportedly is to Katie Holmes, says Barton Goldsmith, PhD, author of Emotional Fitness for Intimacy. If you feel that something is pushing you out of the relationship, like he doesn't make you feel special, or he's so bad with money that it's affecting you, too, you need to speak up.

You Discover Your Needs
Men and women typically don't spell out their needs at the beginning of a relationship, says Marshall. Instead, they want to go with the flow to keep their partner happy. It's only after reality sets in that you get a better idea of what you need from the relationship, and how those needs are being met.

Related: How to Help Your Man Change

You're Unhappy
The difference between a phase you can get past and a bigger problem is that you (and only you) are unhappy, says Marshall. This is where it's so important to speak up: If he listens and works to make changes, that's a great sign. If things don't change or he doesn't respond to your requests, that's not.

You're Not Sure Where Things Are Headed
If you're dating, you might be stressing about taking things to the next level; if you're married, you might be dying to start a family or buy an apartment. Either way, you need to tell your guy. Goldsmith says you should start softly-instead of saying "we need to talk," say, "It's been an amazing five years and it's gone by so quickly. Where do you see us headed next?" and then segue into talking about the future. That way it's less imitating for both of you, and you can have a frank discussion about the future.

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