We’ve all been there. After the honeymoon phase is over, you fall into a mundane routine of everyday life with your partner. Work, kids, meetings, sports. You’re tired, overworked, and undersexed. You both never seem to be “in the mood” at the same time and when you do finally get on the same page, sex feels more like a means to an end rather than an intimate, satisfying experience.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! With a little creativity, effort, and an open mind, you and your significant other can avoid the infamous “seven year itch” and embrace a strong, intimate connection that withstands the test of time.
What is the Seven Year Itch?
This isn’t exactly a technical term, but most married couples can relate to the “slump” they feel around this time. After seven years together, the excitement has fizzled, you’ve likely added kids to the mix, maybe moved into a bigger home or changed careers and taken on more financial debt and stress. The thrill of afternoon delights and staying out until the wee hours of the morning are all a distant memory. You may even look at your partner and think, “Really? This is who I married?”.
If you’re having these unnerving thoughts and feelings, the first thing you need to do is take a deep breath and stop feeling guilty. While the name suggests this dip in intimacy occurs at the seven-year mark, it may be different for you. Some people experience it much sooner while others later and the lucky ones, maybe never! But if you’re having doubts, you’re not alone.
Here are a few tips for combating these unsettling feelings and breathing new life into your marriage.
Consider What Else Might Be Causing You to Feel ‘Stuck’
“It’s not you, it’s me”. It’s a lame excuse some people use during a break up but it may also be the key to self-reflection. When you find yourself stuck in a rut, your first instinct might be to blame your boring, lackluster marriage. While you should be happy with your union, it shouldn’t be your only source of happiness or self-worth. In fact, your own discontent with yourself and your accomplishments might actually be the source of your slump.
All too often we project our own feelings and problems onto others. Before you blame your significant other for your lack of motivation, look deep inside yourself. Is something else causing you to feel listless? Lack of confidence, unfulfilled dreams, regret, or a dead-end job are just a few things that might be causing your unrest. Once you identify and address these, you may discover newfound happiness and excitement in outside relationships — including your marriage.
Remind Yourself Why You’re Grateful for Your Partner (and Tell Them!)
They say the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Instead of thinking about all the things your partner isn’t, why not focus on all the things they are, including why you married them in the first place. Sit down and make a list of all the things you’re grateful for in your partner. It could be something simple like, “He kisses me before work everyday” or “She makes sure I always have clean laundry.” These small gestures are often overlooked and come to be expected instead of appreciated.
After you make your list (which will probably be longer than you realize), share it with your spouse. Let me see all the things, big and small, they do on a daily basis that you’re grateful for. Discovering a newfound appreciation for one another will help you see your relationship and circumstance as one of good fortune rather than a prison sentence.
Make Time to Talk and Touch
Communication is key in any relationship — especially a marriage. When life gets in the way, it can be difficult to make time for simple, yet meaningful conversations, let alone physical contact. Make an effort to talk about what’s on your mind, whether it’s venting about your boss, discussing mom-drama on the playground, or your desire to try something new in the bedroom. Schedule 10 minutes each morning to chat over coffee or a few moments before you both fall asleep. Sometimes, these are when the most intimate and telling conversations take place.
Not all communication is done by talking. Physical contact with your spouse is crucial for maintaining intimacy and a sexual connection. The seven year itch is often marked by a lack of sexual excitement. Try spicing things up by leaving your partner naughty notes, buying flattering lingerie, or even sharing an erotic audio sex story that depicts a few new moves you’d like to try. Keep your partner’s likes and comfort level in mind when deciding how to turn up the heat under the sheets!
Remember, the Honeymoon Phase Isn’t Meant to Last
As thrilling as the honeymoon phase is, it’s not meant to last. Over time, what starts as a hot, “can’t keep my hands off of you” type of desire slowly grows and transforms into a more stable, secure relationship. The sort of bond that you can only share with someone when you’re totally vulnerable, open, and raw. It’s the type of love that develops over time. And while there may still be a small piece of you that mourns the loss of hot car sex and all-nighters, there’s a certain sense of peace that comes with a stable marriage.
But it’s not all about emotions. Biologically, that overwhelming sense of romance and sexual desire is unsustainable long-term. This euphoric part of a relationship generally lasts two years. After which it’s replaced by the more sustainable, attachment phase. Instead of viewing your predictable routine as boring, consider it a solid foundation of support and unconditional love. Security, friendship, and commitment are more important and sustainable, long-term.
Happiness Beyond the Seven Year Itch Is Possible
You’ve probably heard of the seven year itch and maybe even experienced it without realizing. Heck, they even made a movie about it! It’s when the excitement of a new relationship fades and you find yourself stuck in a rut. Except, maybe it’s not a rut after all. Relationships are designed to grow, change, and evolve. Instead of trying to make your marriage something it’s not, start appreciating it for what it is. A lifelong commitment and bond with someone who knows and loves you on the deepest level imaginable. That, in itself, is pretty darn sexy if you ask us!