Unlucky seven: it’s still the number at which marriages often end

By August 3, 2011Divorce

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C posted in Divorce on Wednesday, August 3, 2011

He’d been happily married for seven years when his wife had to go away for the summer. And then Marilyn Monroe moved into the apartment below.

With the title of that 1956 movie, the world learned of a phrase and phenomenon that still has meaning today: “The Seven Year Itch.”

Although there have been enormous changes in the 55 years since that movie, something that hasn’t changed is that itch for alteration of marital status. U.S. Census data shows that first marriages last a median of eight years. But the time from the wedding ceremony to the separation is seven years.

Experts say there’s a reason that so many marriages end in divorce by their seventh year. There are often substantial stresses involving the care of children, work and career pressures and disappointments, family burdens and financial woes, especially in tough times.

A professor of sociology said happy marriages usually don’t come undone because someone like Marilyn Monroe moves in nearby.

“Typically people who are unhappy with their marriages figure that out within the first few years and then take a few more years to get to the state of divorcing,” he said. “Over time people’s flaws reveal themselves.”

One man interviewed for a newspaper article on the subject said his marriage ended after seven years because of the strains of child-rearing and a fundamental disagreement with his former wife over the importance of work and career.

A woman whose marriage also ended after seven years said she knows that life can be very short, so when she understood the depth of differences she had with her ex, she knew the marriage had to end.

“My ex-husband isn’t a bad person,” she said, “but he was not compatible with where I was seeing my life going.”

That’s a common reason for divorce, whether it’s after seven years, one year or 20 years: a simple lack of compatibility and common goals and desires.

Source: The Boston Globe: “The magic number when magic’s gone” by Beth Teitell: July 29, 2011