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Relationships: The famous 7-year-itch has progressed to 10

According to a recent study, the famous seven-year-itch in a marriage has now gained three more years of conjugal bliss. Temptations to stray, a grouse with the spouse and getting weighed down by chores has been cited as reasons. The guide understands the whys and the wherefores of this delay, and if the additional years are a sign of healthier times

Is 10 the number then?
The 10-year-period is not a fixed number on which every marriage begins to appear jaded. It depends on many factors. If we purchase a new house and enjoy its interiors and take comfort in the house, it feels great for a couple of years. After let's say a period of five years, we may have to go refurbishing the upholstery, do up the wall paint and change the furniture in order to keep pace with the times. At that point of time, what we try to do is avail the better options we have to make our lives more comfortable. This is done with no hesitation whatsoever while admitting the need for a renovation and in fact, is considered a status symbol.

couple sleep

While it is okay to do so for an external space, we ignore the need to attend to our inner world of marriage and relationships. Mostly, there is gross lack of communication between the couple in almost 90% of cases. They do not even feel sensitive towards this vital need, which binds a relationship. And to most people's disbelief, communication skills do need to be learnt, updated and enhanced constantly. Before marriage, you know your spouse as a 20-year-old but now 10 years later, you need to know the person at the age of 30.

Dr Rajiv Anand
Dr Rajiv Anand

Most partners tend to take each other for granted and do not keep pace with the changing parameters of age, moods, physical and emotional needs. They believe that being married is enough of an indicator of their happiness, which is far from the truth.

Information courtesy: Dr Rajiv Anand, relationship and sex counsellor.

It's all about the situation
Conflicts in a married life happen at all ages. Those in the first few years of marriage (without kids) face stress due to shared work responsibilities. The period before marriage usually qualifies as the romantic period. Post-marriage, however, these dual lives come to an end and you start sharing responsibilities and build lives together; be it by handling the relatives or paying mortgages, etc.

Couple

The next hurdle is seen after two to five years post having a baby, or even when one's children turn 15 or 16 years old (this varies from woman to woman). This also depends on the role the woman plays in the family and the relationship — is it a dual-income family, is she a housewife, is she an entrepreneur. During the first few years, one is involved as a mother, it is only later when a woman starts questioning her identity. Not all women today are okay with being just a wife and a mother as they have invested a lot in their education and need a full-fledged career. The stop to all of this, post motherhood also affects the relationship. Men see their wives going through this crisis and want to support them, which adds to the tension between the couple.

Dr Ameeta Sanghavi Shah
Dr Ameeta Sanghavi Shah

Men face equal amounts of pressure, especially with the income expectations going higher to support a certain kind of lifestyle. Due to these factors one can't define whether it is a seven-year or a 10-year-itch.

The solution to this lies in the conversation between the couple while it being situational too. Situations such as whether you have a good workforce to take care of your kids, when you go back home, as offices don't have mechanisms to support their employees. In case one has his/her parents staying close by or in-laws who can help with the raising of the kids, things become easier. One has to be calm and non-judgmental in the approach. A certain level of compromise from both the sides is essential to managing the conflicts. The stress does not depend on how soon or late you marry. We often suggest the couple to take a creative approach to the situation. Through this, one can look at a possibility of being able to divide your time well. The key is in finding the right output to one's potential.

Information courtesy: Ameeta Sanghavi Shah, Mind, life, relationship coach.

A knotty problem, is it?
I  had my first and only child after three years of marriage and had to quit my job for it as I didn't plan to get back to work immediately. The first few months were easy as all the energy was devoted in taking care of my son, with the help of my mother. It was one year later that the urge to get back to work started coming to my mind as I believe in financial independence. Fortunately, my mother-in-law was supportive and I could leave my son home for a full-time job. But this left very little time to us as a couple as our free time would now be devoted to family outings. We try and compensate it by going on one vacation together every year, just the two of us. Working has boosted my morale. Sometimes, differences do crop up as most of the household responsibilities are taken care of by my mother-in-law. However, my husband is a fair judge in this and that helps solve problems.
— Sana Khan, 37, Finance professional, completed 9 years of marriage

I  don't agree to the 10-year-itch notion. If you live with someone for 10 years, you get used to that person, and can't imagine life without him/her. However, in case you have drifted apart in the course of time, you hit a low point when things go bad. It can be any time — two or 20 years. I felt the challenges in the initial phases of marriage. I realised we are two strong and different individuals. It was only due to common principles and respect for each other that we have got through these 13 years. During courtship, we appear to be more acceptable but in reality we want to be who we are. Once, we accepted each other, we did good. There were times when I didn't do things I enjoyed anymore as I felt shackled! But I didn't feel like cheating, because I am sure with another person things would have been the same. It was either living alone and battling the loneliness or staying within the comfort of my family. I am not complaining.
— Poulomi Chowdhury, 40, Communications professional, completed 12 years of marriage

I  don't believe in the 10-year-itch though we will complete nine years, mid-next year. For me, it's just getting better and better. Though I think the itch is getting shorter and shorter as couples who have been married for only two to three years are getting divorced. Yesterday, a friend dropped by to say that seven of his male acquaintances have gotten divorced. My marriage is getting better due to my husband's understanding nature. For instance, I love cooking but my husband told me, 'It's great that you have it as a hobby and you should keep it as one but not get burdened by cooking meals daily.' Such support has made the passing years better for me. One needs to talk to each other, spend time and, of course, household chores need to be divided equally. People say that marriages won't exist in the coming years but I don't think so. The truth in marriage still exists.
 — Harshita Patil, 36, Marketing professional, completed 8 years of marriage

How to make it right?

>> Marriage is an ongoing dynamic relationship. You are supposed to grow, invest, analyse, sort and clean the relationship on a regular basis.

>> In no situation, howsoever worse or provocative it may be, should one speak a word or sentence which gives immense psychological pain to the other and cannot be easily addressed.

>> Attribute your partner with a huge amount of respect as it places both on an equal footing.

>> Treat your marriage as a sacred and lifelong bond, not as a utilitarian relationship.

>>
 One should never think, talk, or threaten with divorce. If you do this frequently you increase the probability of the occurrence of one.

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