Christine Park

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Avoiding the 7-Year Itch (and the 3-Year Glitch)

Now I've only been with my work husband for a couple years, so for all intents and purposes, we should still be in our honeymoon stage. He sent me this article, which puts us on track for a falling out next year... because apparently the "three-year glitch" has replaced the "seven-year itch" as the tipping point where couples start to take each other for granted, according to a new survey commissioned by Warner Brothers to promote the release of comedy film "Hall Pass."

The survey names a few of the passion-killers that have led to a swifter decline in relationships in the fast-paced 21st century. My real husband and I have been married for seven, going on eight years. After two kids, a hefty mortgage, and crazy work hours, we've definitely experienced plenty of passion-killers.
And let's face it, I'm guilty of every single one of them:

1. Weight gain/lack of exercise (umm yeah... I've gained 10 to 15 pounds since our wedding)
2. Money & Spend thriftiness (I love to spend it and he likes to save it)
3. Anti-social working hours (so I go to bed at 8:30pm when the kids do and wake up at 2:30am)
4. Hygiene issues (is it bad I don't shower every day?)
5. In-Laws/extended family - too much/too little (we live in Fresno, but his family is in L.A.)
6. Lack of romance (he calls me his sex object... he wants sex, I object)
7. Alcohol - drinking too much (a glass a day keeps the doctor away!)
8. Snoring & anti social bedtime habits (I'm told I snore, which I adamantly deny and if I do, so what, it's cute)
9. Lapsed fashion-Same old underwear/clothes (yes! this is one category that doesn't apply. but this leads to problem #2 money spending)
10. Bathroom habits (I like the toilet paper roll over, he likes it under)

So it got me thinking. How do couples avoid the itch, the glitch, whatever you want to call it? Well, I'm no shrink, but having lived through and survived the 7-year itch, here's what I would suggest.

More sex. Consider your partner's needs and make an effort to meet them. Once you're past the baby-making/having stage, sex can be fun and spontaneous again. Get off the pill, get a vasectomy and get crazy.

Find a common hobby or pastime. In our case, this could be tennis. I made a feeble attempt once at learning, but I got pregnant and fat and couldn't move on the court. Even after the baby, I always had an excuse. But this is a real opportunity to spend time together doing something we both enjoy. It's not like he's going to take up scrapbooking. Meet each other half way. He started helping in the kitchen, so cooking has become something fun we do together.

Talk about something other than work or the kids. Take the time to discuss important aspects of your day or your thoughts on situations that arise in your marriage that need attention. Lack of conversation breeds distance. You don't want to become a stranger to your own spouse.

Take kid-free trips. We just got back from New York City without the kids. We did grown-up things that we both enjoy, like watching musicals and fine dining. We were able to make each other the priority, instead of having to worry about the kids' needs. Obviously this is easier said than done, and we are grateful to have an amazing family that we can trust our kids with. But if this is a possibility at least once a year, seize it.

Don't forget the romance. Remember how hard you worked to woo your spouse BEFORE you were married? The little notes, the special home-cooked meals, the surprise flowers? Avoid marital boredom by showing your appreciation for your spouse in small ways. Send flowers, make compliments to show that you still find him or her attractive and surprise each other romantically. Flirt. Send sexy text messages throughout the day. Dig out the old lingerie in the back of your underwear drawer.

Choose happiness and harmony over the need to be right. Chances are, you know those people in relationships who would much rather be right than happy. They’re the ones who constantly nag, belittle and fight with their partner over every little thing. Do you want to be that person or the kind of person whose relationship is blissful because they’ve let go of the need to always have the last word, the right answer, or prove their partner wrong? By letting go of the desire to always be right at any cost, you give yourself and your partner permission to enjoy life again. A happier relationship AND less stress? Sounds like a win-win!

Bottom line, make an effort. Relationships are hard. But I've decided mine is worth working for.