You may or may not have heard of “seven-year itch.”
The phrase is used to describe that point in a long-term relationship when things seem to start to decline and couples feel unsatisfied and restless — leading to arguments, emotional distance, and cheating.
And whether you believe in this phenomenon or not — surely, not every marriage experiences a seventh year from hell? — the truth is, there are some relationship issues that are nearly universal, especially when you’ve been together for this length of time.
In this post, we’ll be covering five big relationship issues that you may face when you come to that dreaded seven-year mark in your relationship. Read on for some useful tips on how to tackle and beat the seven year itch.
1. Your sex life loses its fire
We all remember how passionate and exciting the start of our relationship was; you couldn’t keep your hands off each other and it seemed like you had sex all the time and everywhere.
But seven years down the line and with that honeymoon period far from sight, it feels like your sex life has all but disappeared.
Between your jobs, children, housework, social commitments, and hobbies, things can get pretty stressful and tiring. And one of the first things to go is a healthy sex life; at the end of a busy, stressful day, it’s just easier to fall into bed and save sex for another time… until you realize that it’s been weeks since you last touched each other intimately.
Stress and work pressure can also have some other sexual side effects, such as erectile dysfunction (ED) and the inability to get aroused. Luckily there are ways you can tackle problems like this: ED medication like Tadalafil can help you to enjoy an active, healthy, sex life (Tadalafil side effects are rare too — read this post from The Independent Pharmacy to find out more).
As for the rest of it… embrace that your sex life is going to change as your relationship ages. And that is fine. But it doesn’t mean that you will stop having sex. Instead, find new ways to excite each other. Try out new things that you haven’t done before. And, if you really have to, allocate some “fun” time by yourselves each week (yes, it’s that dreaded sex schedule…).
2. Having children or trying to have children
Children are great. And there is nothing more amazing than bringing life into the world. But starting a family is exhausting, and will have a huge impact on your relationship dynamics. What was once about the two of you is now about your family instead; you’re no longer a couple, you’re co-parents. And it’s very easy to lose yourselves and your connection when you’re facing sleepless nights, toddler tantrums and endless school parents evenings.
It’s not just having children that is stressful and tiring, either. Trying to conceive and struggling is a mammoth issue for couples to deal with. Sometimes, this can involve years of fertility tests, treatments and preparing for parenthood while you’re trying to start a family (not to mention juggling careers and the rest of your lives at the same time).
This can put a huge strain on any relationship; many people — both women and men — internalize their feelings and blame themselves, feeling guilty and “not enough.” It can lead to arguments, emotional distance between partners, and sometimes even separation.
Parenthood — and the journey towards it — is challenging. Our advice? Remember that you’re on the same team. You’re in this together; talk about it frequently and honestly, remember you have each other’s backs and that you love each other, and work together to find a solution. You’ve got this.
3. Financial struggles
Financial struggles are a universal problem that couples face. Having problems with money is hard enough on your own, but when you’re in a relationship with two bank accounts, it’s much harder.
Money can drive a real wedge between partners when you’re struggling to make ends meet, An extra strain is all too common seven years into your relationship, when you’re saving to do all of the things you want to as a couple, like going on vacation — or bigger life goals like buying a house or starting a family. And if one of you is good at saving and the other is a splurger, this can lead to plenty of bickering and big fights.
This can become even more exacerbated if your salaries are substantially different. It’s all too easy for resentment to grow; one of you can afford to do what you want (possibly paying more into your joint bank account), and the other struggles to just break even, let alone contribute to your savings.
Money conversations are difficult to have too, which is why so many couples avoid having them. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the problem goes away, and the outcome is often a full-blown argument about your financial state as a couple.
It’s best to tackle these troubles early on. Be sure to have honest, open and regular conversations about money — and make sure you really listen to what your partner is saying too. Drawing up a future financial plan and setting out clear goals for yourselves will help to keep you united and on track when it comes to your finances.
4. You don’t find time for each other
When you’re first in that honeymoon period of your marriage or relationship, all you want to do is spend time with your partner. Everything else is great, but frankly, you’d much rather be hidden away in your home together with the rest of the world outside.
Unfortunately, as your relationship continues, the world tends to encroach on it. Jobs become time-consuming as you further your career; social obligations take over as you try to juggle various sets of in-laws, friends and work colleagues; running around after your children and their needs takes priority. Before you know it, the last time you had a good conversation and some quality time with your spouse was last July.
Finding the time for each other is hard, but it’s super important for maintaining a healthy relationship.
Set aside a date night once a week — clear your schedule and take some quality time to appreciate your other half. Get romantic and do something you enjoy together — whether it’s a movie night, dinner out, ice-skating or a hike in the fresh air.
If you have children, then make sure that you book in some time where it’s just the two of you. Ask your parents or siblings to look after the kids and book yourself a weekend away.
5. You begin to compare yourselves to other couples
It’s all too easy to compare your relationship to that of other couples around you — especially if said couples post incessantly on Instagram about their latest romantic dinner out, or their exotic trip abroad together, or gush endlessly about how amazing their partner and their relationship is… #blessed.
Firstly, it’s important to remember that social media is not an accurate depiction of a relationship and all its complexities. We all have our quirks and fails, and every marriage has its ups and downs.
Secondly, not every relationship is the same. What will work well for one couple will not work at all for another; do what is best for the two people in your relationship, and not what you think is a universal relationship truth.
Let go of the desire for a “perfect” relationship and find happiness where you are now. You’re just adding unnecessary pressure and stress to your relationship.
Instead, remind yourself of all the things you’re grateful for in your partner. Make a list and let them know how much they mean to you, and how much they’ve changed your life for the better.
Regardless of whether the “seven year itch” is real or not, the five examples above are universal relationship issues that can have a huge impact. However, that doesn’t mean they’re impossible to fix.
If you want to be with your partner for a long time (hopefully forever!), then you’re going to have to work at it. Commit to making it work; talk frequently, communicate your feelings, and remember that you are on the same team.