Thinking about divorce? Every year of marriage comes with its own set of ups and downs, but studies indicate that years 2, 4, and 7 are critical years that need particular care and attention.
On your wedding day, it’s hard to believe that in 1 in 12 marriages ends after just 2 years. That’s a whopping 8% of marriages – some of which are still being paid for – that are over almost before they begin. How can this be?
According to a study in Denmark, physical touch such as hand holding drops off by about half after 2 years of marriage. While hand holding alone won’t save your marriage, continuing this most basic dating habit will go a long way in building on the physical and emotional closeness you felt before marriage.
Another critical year is the 4th year of marriage. Dr. Dino Pranzarone of Roanoke College in Virginia found that there is a peak in divorce – all around the world – in the 4th year of marriage because it is in this year that scientists believe “chemicals in our brain responsible for ‘attraction’ begin to wear off.”
This is when we see stop seeing our mate through rose-colored glasses. This is when some of the things that used to be endearing to you start to tick you off. Maybe what you used to consider being fashionably late now starts to look like not caring that you want to be on time. Or things about your personality that the two of you used to joke about now seem like disrespectful jabs at who you are.
I think this is probably the time when the words “for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part” start to become real and you think “can I really be married to this person until one of us dies”?
By now you probably have a child or two or have seriously talked about it, you’ve worked through job and salary situations, and may be considering buying a home or at least moving to someplace more suitable for the long term. The truth about the responsibilites of being married start to weigh on you.
The good news: The early stages of attraction could not realistically last for a lifetime or most of us would not be able to function well in the real world. Could you really spend as much time infatuated with your mate for the rest of your life as you did while you were dating? Probably not. But if you work through this “loss of attraction” and look at the reasons beyond attraction that you married your wife or husband, the chemicals responsible for attraction will be replaced by chemicals that will give you and your mate a bond that can last a lifetime.
Sadly, even if you’ve successfully navigated years 2 and 4, you might not be on the road to marital bliss yet. No doubt you’ve heard of the “7 year itch,” and there’s even a European country considering that marriages should only last for 7 years because it is in the 7th year that people often start to feel restless and miss the excitement of the early years of marriage. There are more mouths to feed, more demands on your time and energy, and more responsibilites – and seemingly less fun – that go along with being married.
This is not a time to give up. This is a time to focus your energy on being who you need to be in the marriage. It’s a time to think not about what you are getting from the relationship, but what you are giving to it to make it – and your spouse – better.
Consider these three quotes. Better yet, choose one of them as your theme and refer to it often when you begin to wonder if life would be better if you started all over with someone new.
A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. ~Mignon McLaughlin
One advantage of marriage is that, when you fall out of love with him or he falls out of love with you, it keeps you together until you fall in again. ~Judith Viorst
Love seems the swiftest but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century. ~Mark Twain
Yours for the celebration of marriage,
P.S. Ready to go deeper to make changes in your marriage? Check out these incredible books to strengthen your marriage