The Dangerous 7 Year Phenomenon in Marriage

Every 7-year period in a marriage appears to create additional stress to the marriage. I have never understood the phenomenon, and I have no statistical data to support my observations, but I have seen the results of it many times. I have talked with many other pastors and counselors that have observed the same.

The stressful period appears to begin sometime around year 6 and continues through year 8, but primarily around year 7. Another critical period seems to center around year 14 (years 13-15) and again in year 21 (years 20-22). (I haven’t dealt with many marriages beyond that period.) Many marriages actually end during one of these periods.

My suspicion is that it has something to do with life cycles. In 7 years, (which is a biblical year of completion BTW) most marriages have experienced many of the normal highs and lows a marriage faces. Issues such as death, birth, job change, housing change, medical issues and financial stress all create stress in a marriage and over the course of 7 years most marriages experiences some or all of these.

I believe strongly that awareness of a problem helps address the problem. While I don’t understand all the reasons why this phenomenon may occur, experience tells me it is real. My suggestion is that marriages in these critical times and leading up to them be especially sensitive to problems that arise in the marriage. Be willing to seek help when needed. Work on the basics of your marriage again. (Read THIS POST for examples.) Talk to other couples that have successfully weathered the period you are in now. Invest in your marriage. Stay committed to your faith and each other. Build your marriage during this time instead of letting the season of marriage tear you apart.

Pastors/Counselors/Others, have you seen this phenomenon? Do you understand it? Was it true for your marriage?

(If you read my post about my grandparents, I think they are going to be okay in their 10th 7-year cycle. Read that post HERE.)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add video comment

Have you Subscribed via RSS yet? Don't miss a post!

35 thoughts on “The Dangerous 7 Year Phenomenon in Marriage

  1. My wife and I have been married for 6years from now..but our 6th year anniversary was totally not happy..many problem occurred and frequently arguement…third party comes..financial problems….no time for both of us to bond together and to share our feelings because we have 3children..and we both raise them together…but now our marriage is deeply in danger..i want to ask help ..but dont know who to talk to..i want to save my family…i love my wife..but i talked to her and she said her love for me isn’t that much anymore…she wanted to have space…now I hink I’m going crazy..because i think she have another lover..beacuse she already did that to me..but I forgive her..and I think its happening again..please send me email..please help me to save my family…thank you

  2. My husband and I just go married October of 2012 and are taking the marriage and family small group offered at our church. We are always listening out for advice from Godly people who have a marriage that is working. Thank you for this, and I will be sharing it with him. Hopefully, when we reach year seven we will stop and say, "Didn't we read something about this, oh yeah…….." Thanks again!

  3. M boyfriend and I will ave been together 7 ears this September. I totally feel like we are going through this, even tough we are not married. W are we not married Well an unsuspected birth is one, and hard time wit finding work in our fields is the other. We have some tings in common but find tat raising a 3 r old and balancing two jobs and finances takes quite a toll. We find each other lasing out and having hard time to communicate. I do love him and want to work it out, but totally understand the "7 ear itch". M goal is to be able to talk more and spend a little time together, although and with our daughter. Congrats to the other posters who survived and can share our story. I find this very helpful.

    • Thank you. Yes. This can be true in any relationship. Even in our jobs. It takes intentionality to rejuvenate the relationship. 

  4. Now you know in 47 years there have been some real bumps. A few specific questions have always helped. What attracted us in the first place, has that changed? Were we sincere and honest when we said our vows to God, yes we were. Are we better off with or without the other; we definitely are the best in all aspects when we are together. Hope that can help someone.

  5. Yes, this has been the case for us. We "survived" the first 7 and are now struggling through 15 ever since just after the 14 mark. Knowing it may hit again in 7 if we make it that far… wow. Seems like 21 would be the hardest one. What do two people do if one gives up on the other after all the life's been sapped out of us and we aren't in such a productive or active stage of life and there are no kids at home?

    • That's a great question Laura. Ed Wheat wrote a book "How To Save Your Marriage Alone" and I've known some who think it was a helpful book. Ultimately your situation requires a heart change for the one who has given up, but this book may help the one who is still trying. I'll be praying for you.

  6. We are in our 20th year and fast approaching our 21st anniversary and going through Hell at the moment. My wife has serious depression and my teenage son is driving us mad. My wife has been a Christian for many years but I only became a Christian at Christmas. Our marriage has always been OK (rather than good or excellent), we have always been there for one another, but since I became a Christian it just feels like something is trying to tear us apart. God is at the centre of our family, we remind ourselved of that every day. We have a good life, but our marriage is under a lot of strain because of my wife's illness and my son's behaviour. I just hope we make it to our anniversary, as that is not certain at this time.

    • That something trying to tear you apart is Satan. You became a Christian and now you are his personal interest to try and destroy. I'm praying for your marriage to be restored in a way that gives God glory. Stay strong in your faith and it will be a blessing to you either way!

      • Thanks Ron, your prayers mean a lot to us. Over Christmas we prayed together every morning when we woke up and every evening when we went to bed, and we felt closer than we have ever felt before. With a busy life this habit fell by the wayside, and that's when the lies start to come at us. There are things in our past that neither of us is proud of, and I have on occasion broken our marriage vows (though we have always been faithful to each other). We are determined to renew our wedding vows, as we are now a new creation and the marriage that God always intended for us to have is within reach. Whenever the wedding vows are mentioned we come under immense attack and things fall apart. We both want this marriage to work and we both still love each other. We know that God has a plan for us and that it is for good, we just need to get through the renewal of our vows so that we can move forwards in our new relationship, with each other and with God.

          • Ron, We successfully renewed our wedding vows on the 8th April in front of God, family and friends. We now have the relationship that God meant us to have. We have forgiven each other for many hurts over 20 years of marriage and we are determined to make this work. We don't have to do this by ourselves, God is with us. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15)

            I just wanted to share this as so many people around us are going through difficult times. God does have a plan for us: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11).

            Our relationship was strained to breaking point in the 21st year of our marriage. We trusted to God and as a result we are seeing greater communication, intimacy and understanding. With God all things are possible! Many people have been praying for us, I'd like to thank them and let them know that their prayers are being answered.

        • I feel for you in your struggles. I became a Christian three weeks before our wedding, and my husband turned his life back over to Christ at that point. Like you say, it seemed like every time we tried to take a step forward, things went crazy.

          I'm not sure if that's changed, or if we've gained strength, but it's not like it was at first. I do think that new faith gets a good shaking from the devil, as Ron says. But you remember the promises of Scripture:

          "Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass." – 1 Thessalonians 5:24

          "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." – 1 Cor. 10:13

          Matthew 4 shows Christ clinging steadfastly to the truth of what God says, refusing to let it get twisted up by Satan's lies. That principle has gotten me through a lot of near-disasters in my marriage, when it seemed like everything was falling apart.

          God has His hand on you. I hope that thought comforts your heart. Take care; you are beloved in heaven, at the throne of God.

  7. My husband and I celebrated 35 years last December. We have had some really rough patches when our marriage seemed on shaky ground. What kept us together was our individual relationships with God. The last time I was so tempted to just call it quits, God strongly spoke to me that the key issue was not what was "wrong" with my husband. God laid it on the line for me–the question was the power of my word. I had made a promise, was I going to keep it? The answer was "yes, I was" even though I could see no hope. Fortunately, God could see more than what I could, and He blessed us so much!

  8. My husband and I had what I would call the perfect marriage up until our seventh year. I had just had my first child and all of a sudden things started to change with him, with our marriage, with me. All the things that went wrong did go wrong and its only by the grace of God and prayer of our friends and family that we manage to pull through. It got to the point where I no longer loved my husband but he fought for me and I did not want to be part of the population that was divorced or seperated. I believe that life and death are in the power of the tongue so even though my flesh didn't want to stay in marriage I daily confessed that I loved my husband and i began to see things change. We are now in our 12th year of marriage and I can honestly say that if 2 individuals are willing to let God be the centre of their relationship, getting over the seven year hurdle will not be hard. My husband and I now have two kids and we are in a place in our marriage where there is a depth of love and understanding. Although we don't get the ability to go on too many dates anymore, the fact that we have quality time for each other alone is as important as when we first got married. To God be the glory!

    • Thanks for sharing your story Brooke. It's an encouragement to so many to hear these types of examples. I agree, if a couple will let God be the center, the relationship can weather any storm.

  9. I too believe this is true and have seen it happen. Kenny and I are still newlyweds (less than 2 years), and because of this phenomenon I’m actually happy that we faced some serious stressors BEFORE we got married because it refined us as a couple even before we said our vows. Ours was a brief but challenging courtship—not because of issues between the two of us but because of pressures from the outside. It seems that the enemy has been dead set on taking us out as a couple from day one. We have faced everything from being ousted from a church we loved to illness to extended-family issues. Now, whenever we face anything, we’re able to cheer each other on: “Listen, we’ve faced this and that and this and that, and we always come out on top!” I trust that this mind-set will follow us into the years ahead. Thanks again for these posts!

  10. This is fascinating. My husband and I will have our 7th anniversary this June, and we are absolutely going through this. We're working really hard, but it does feel like things blew up this year in our relationship. We're starting marriage counseling this Thursday because we want support to get stronger together.

  11. WE have only been married for 4 years. However, the intimacy changes both with me and my husband and with GOD. The challenges can definitely be overcome, because we have had some doozies! Looking forward to 7 years because GOD says that is the number of completion, 7. It gets better every day, because GOD uses the marriage and parenting as well, as incredible teaching tools. I know a couple who has been married 7 years and they are experiencing a lot of this. They are a CHristian couple, and in some ways GOD is pulling them apart to draw each to HIM individually. When they come back together as a unit, GOD will be there and so will agape LOVE!

  12. Not sure about the 7 yr theory either, but if you consider where marriages are in those years, it may help explain. 7 yrs is often the midst of child-rearing and the family unit is usually consumed around the kids, their needs, their activities, etc. Leaves little time or energy for a couple. At 21 yrs. the marriage is beginning to face the emptynest and all those previous years of being centered around the children is suddenly hitting us in the face of needing to have a relationship with our spouse, which has taken a hit thru the yrs. We see it as a new beginning, not only as a couple, but as individuals….our 2nd chapter begins and we must ask ourselves if we want the 2nd half of our life to be more about ourselves or the renewing of a relationship that may, or may not be worth saving. I also think a key word in ALL of marriage is "feelings". If we are looking for those "feelings" or being in love like we had in the newness of relationships instead of focusing on a mature, trusting bond with one another, I feel a marriage will usually lose in that search for butterflies in the stomach.

  13. I wholly agree Ron. When in Congregational ministry I insisted on marriage preparation and I believe that if folk are invited to marry in a 'church' that church offers continuing support, whether the couple continue with them in any formal sense. The last couple I married are a prime example of how to do it right. They still seek us out and we have an on going friendship with them forged through addressing hard questions of commitment and expectations in marriage. Thank God that it does work when all parties are supported and supporting. Pax Christi <>:<

  14. I understand the observation even if it isn't substantiated by any statistical research. Christians expect marriage to be an easier partnership by the fact that we share a conviction of faith. I do believe that, as Peter writes, we are subject to the common temptations, and marriage takes work and commitment to the journey. I have been married for fifteen and a half happy years to a wonderful woman. Through this time we have had two children, face financial and professional challenges, felt the pressures of life that create confusion and life questions. Our faith has supported us through these times and given us the moral and spiritual compass sadly lacking in much of society today. It has not forced us to accept the covenant of marriage as sacred but helped us concensually. I love my wife as my friend, lover, mother of my children, and sister in Christ. Paul writes, in Corinthians, that we are not to divorce which makes me think that it is always God's will to work things out with the welfare of your partner as first concern. With friends and aquaintances in our generation that we have seen go through divorce I can only say that the damage done to the family and the fall out affecting friends the best way is God's way.

    • Thanks Martin for your good reply. Of course, making the marriage commitment work takes two willing partners in the process. Sadly, over the years, I have seen dozens of cases where one partner refuses to make the marriage work the way that you describe. I strongly encourage adequate pre-marital help to make sure both people start the marriage with this level of commitment. Thanks again.