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Does the 7-year itch really exist? Depends on whom you ask

Even if you've never seen the classic 1955 Marilyn Monroe film "The Seven Year Itch," you've probably heard of the theory behind it. The idea that married couples go through a period of waning interest in each other is nothing new, and it's one that many Texans can probably identify with.

Although many couples reach a plateau in their passion for each other, there are different theories as to why this happens. One philosopher has surmised that our minds and bodies go through significant changes over the course of seven years, and that it's natural for us to grow apart from our spouses. You may have different dreams and goals now than you did seven years ago, and your spouse probably has, too, even if you don't realize it. Perhaps part of the problem is that we don't effectively communicate these changes to each other, either out of fear our spouses won't understand us. We also may not realize how much we've changed in that time, even if our spouse sees it.

Another school of thought says that the seven-year mark in a marriage comes right around the time our children are out of their infancy. Parents may be exhausted by the demands of early childhood and have forgotten what it was like to have just a spouse, with no extra worries or priorities beyond romance. Even for married couples without children, the habits each spouse has can suddenly become more noticeable -- make that unbearably irritating -- to each other.

Some experts have suggested that seven years isn't the only benchmark for the failure or success of a marriage. A 1999 study found most couples who divorce spend at least 10 years together before divorcing, and that marriages are most likely to fail after 12 years. But other studies, including one completed just last year, have claimed that parents of young children are almost five times more likely to go their separate ways after three years, rather than seven. Forty-two percent of the respondents in that study said that having children drove them apart from their spouses.

Fortunately, the divorce itself can often go quickly and painlessly, especially if you and your spouse agree that your marriage is over. Once everything is settled and you can go your separate ways, you may find that itch disappears.

Source: The Huffington Post, "The Seven-Year Itch: Fact or Fiction?" Jennifer Nagy, Jan. 28, 2013

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