Surviving the Seven Year Itch

Seems it doesn’t matter if it’s been two, four, or seven years; more studies are finding that whatever year mile marker you’re in can place their toll on a marriage.

Whatever recent statistic you choose to accept couples tend to head for divorce after certain periods of their married life.  Whether it’s after the two year mark, the four or five year mark, or that infamous 7-year mark – more than double the number are divorced after they meet their relationship peak for whatever their reasons.  This period of time is comically referred to as the “seven-year itch.”  There are Four Phases couples go through in relationships.  There is the Honeymoon Stage, the Conflict Stage, the Stability Stage and the Commitment/Co-Creation Stage.

1.  The Honeymoon Stage is where you feel the most in love.  For most couples, the beginning of a relationship is the easiest.  Some say it’s like a drug addiction.  This is where you feel the most chemistry. You seem to be on the same page about most issues. Getting along is almost effortless. Some couples describe this as a merging of two people.  The Honeymoon phase typically last about eighteen months to 2 years.  Part of the thrill of falling in love is due to the fact that you see only the best in your partner.

2.  The Conflict Stage – As time goes on, each partner realizes that everything really isn’t perfect. This is the Conflict Stage where power struggles emerge.  It is typically around the 3rd or 4th year as each look at their differences and respond to them where they either predict a happy relationship or continuing struggles. This is the stage where most couples break up or survive.

This is where Couples Counseling comes in.  Marital discord peaks around the 4th year and then starts to taper off.  This period of time may be a combination of dwindling sexual chemistry and adjusting to each other’s idiosyncrasies.  The early years of marriage are when you replace the illusions with reality.  The “good behavior” put on at the beginning of the relationship is now normalized by being “just you” which could include being messy, displaying short temper, and not being as romantic as before.

3.  The Stability Stage is when conflict resolution and coping skills are learned and both have clear boundaries about each other.  The relationship is more balanced and both partner’s are usually getting their needs met and are fairly happy.

4.  The Commitment Stage is where the couple chooses each other consciously deciding they want a future together and whether have children by co-creating or blending families from previous relationships and making a stronger commitment for longevity in their union.

So the Seven Year Itch can be easily referred to as the “However Long You’ve Been Married Itch,” as it depends on where in the cycle your relationship falls for problems to occur.  It’s important to have conflict resolution skills and be able to dialogue about an issue and have the effective communication skills to discuss and move forward.  In Marriage Counseling you acquire the necessary tools to listen to each other’s concerns and quickly identify the problems.  Help is given to each partner to understand their mate’s concerns and communicate his/her own.  Couples Counseling is where you go when you’ve tried to make it better by yourself and it isn’t getting better.

 

If you believe you are in the Conflict Stage of your relationship and need some guidance to get back to the Stability Stage please give me a call at (858) 735-1139 and we can point you back in the right direction to a more fulfilling and happier twosome.

Signs It’s Time For Marriage Counseling

Signs It’s Time For Marriage Counseling.  I always thought a class about relationships would have been beneficial to any high school curriculum.  When I was in school Home Economics taught us how to cook and sew.  Auto Shop taught us how to repair and maintain cars.  But what about developing and fostering working relationships?  The general population is clueless when it comes to understanding what it takes to be in a loving and caring relationship.  We learned interpersonal and interactive skills from our families of origin.  Depending on what was going on in your family those social skills could have been limited as all families have their limitations as they too did not receive any class in How To Be In A Good Relationship or How To Find An Appropriate Partner.  As a Couples Therapist I see dozens of Couples every month with similar problems.  During the course of my 20 years of practice I have continued to see the same problems over and over again.  Communication difficulties, Sex, Children, Money, Past Issues, Unresolved Personal Issues (Baggage), and Infidelity.   So what are the signs for when it’s time for Marriage Counseling?

Signs that may indicate a need to seek Marriage Counseling:

Constantly Arguing.  Communication is key.  Whether you are constantly arguing or fearful of bringing up any issue a Couples Counselor is able to help the couple obtain clarity about what it is they want to talk about and help them understand what it is they really want.

Your Sex Life Has Become Mediocre.  If you haven’t been having regular or passionate sex this may be a sign of loss of intimacy and construed as a problem.  Also if your partner all of a sudden behaves like a courting lover or wants to experiment with new activities that he/she has never expressed an interest in before, could indicate that he/she is experiencing feelings of arousal that may not be originating from the relationship with you.

Children. Children are huge stressors in a marriage.  It is imperative that you are a united front and that your parenting styles, no matter how different they maybe, keep the children’s best interest at heart. Our jobs as parents are to raise our children to be responsible, self-sufficient, law abiding citizens with the skills to function in society as functioning adults.  If your parenting styles differ too much talking to a Marriage Counselor will help you put aside your own self interests and concentrate on what is best for your children.

Finances. Disagreements over money are one of the top reasons couples find themselves in conflict. If your spouse keeps you in the dark about family finances or feels the need to control everything related to money, it may be time to speak up. Christine K. Clifford of Divorcing Divas, suggests you say, “I want to be aware of our debt, our monthly bills, the balance on our mortgage, how many savings/checking accounts we have, etc.”   If your spouse is not open to this discussion it is definitely time to see a Marriage Counselor as being equal partners is part of the foundation of a healthy partnership.

Baggage.  When certain topics come up over and over again and seem unable to get resolved you can feel like you are going in circles to no avail.  This “looping” counterproductive process may be due to Individual issues that are affecting the Couples Issues. When the Individual issues are addressed then managed or resolved it helps with the Moving Forward Process within the Relationship.  When you notice the same issues coming up time and time again it is an indication they are not effectively being resolved.  Marriage Counseling may help alleviate further distress and deterioration of the relationship.

Holding on to the Past. We all have personal issues that may or may not be resolved.  Personal issues or past trauma like an affair or loss of a child can affect a Couple’s ability to move forward.  Every person processes trauma differently so it is beneficial to seek the help of a Marriage Counselor to help facilitate the process.

Infidelity. If one or both of you have had an affair and aren’t sure what to do next consulting the help of an Infidelity Specialist could help guide you through the process of “Should I Stay Or Should I Go.” Divorce isn’t always the end result of an affair.  Marriage Counseling can help the affair become the Impetus of a New and Better Relationship.

Marriage Counseling is about helping with communicating better and getting the clarity needed on what the problem is really all about.  When you aren’t sure where you stand with each other it can cause allot of stress.  It’s better to talk about issues in a proactive way sooner rather than later as waiting causes the relationship much anxiety and heartache.

Marriage Counseling is talking things out with an unbiased third party whose goal is to help your relationship feel more positive, improve communication so you and your partner can feel heard and respected, enjoy your time together, solve problems easier, build trust, and create a shared vision for your future.

Call me at (858) 735-1139 to see if Marriage Counseling makes sense for you.