Do you know why I like numbers so much? Because they tell a story, and numbers don’t lie. We actually track a lot of data related to families, including how long marriages tend to last. The fact is 50% of all divorces are filed within the first 7 years. Does this surprise you? Well, it shouldn’t and here is why:
1. The average person marries in their mid to late 20’s– right around the time that we are all trying to establish ourselves in our careers, while also trying to buy a house, car, and have babies, and unfortunately many of us are at the same time desperately trying to pay down our student debt. That is simply a lot to take on at once.
2. Navigating the complexities of a relationship is hard work, and making the choice to work through difficulties doesn’t come naturally to most of us that are innately wired to fight or flee when we sense danger. Sadly, whether you avoid the battles or launch into war at full speed doesn’t matter– either way this is the wrong way to handle adversity with your partner.
3. Many seem to lack good coping mechanisms for dealing with stress. Unhealthy habits like drinking, smoking, engaging in risky behavior and over-eating are very common, and these activities often lead to the demise of a marriage– especially when one person refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem.
4. Too often people marry for the wrong reasons, usually because they are driven by some artificial deadlines to find a spouse. Some people fall in love with the idea of being married, but they are not actually in love with the person they are marrying. Too many believe that they can either live with certain faults or change a person, and then later they find that these assumptions backfire on them. You either love (and accept) someone the way that they are, or you don’t. It really is that simple, but usually we only realize this through our failed relationships.
5. Those that marry young still haven’t figured out who they are, so the risk is quite high of growing apart as your mission in life and vision for the future morphs. If you are not on the same page as to where you want to head going forward, you can fall out of love.
It rarely happens overnight, but ever so slowly, a couple can overtime find that they are just no longer in sync, and this does tend to happen around the 7 year mark for married couples. Then, the reason so many attempts at marriage counseling fail is because too much damage has occurred and at least one or perhaps both parties find that they have simply reached the point of no return. Once that realization occurs, I don’t believe there is any point in trying to place blame on anyone– who cares why it is over? The focus should simply be to untie the knot as quickly and gracefully as possible so that you can all move to a better place fast.
So, is there truly a seven year itch? I will let the numbers speak for themselves, but maybe now you can understand the why a little bit better and cut yourselves some slack. There are just so many variables at play that it is impossible to predict who will last, but if you do your best to avoid some of the known pitfalls, then maybe, just maybe you can beat the odds.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.