I am told that the institute of marriage should have it's license revoked or expire at seven years. Not less, because there is a certain freshness that exists even at five years of marriage that somehow and strangely disappears at seven. Not more, because experts tell me that after 10 years of marriage, the spouse is more sibling-like and less better-half...they fight over old wounds, they develop selective hearing and worst of all, husband and wife start to look like each other thus reinforcing the sibling theory. Thus after 10 years, it seems pointless to dissolve one union only to get into a fresh one and have to slowly metamorph into yet another person's sibling-like being!
Seven years , wow that's a long time, says my good friend (lets call her SAS for Short And Sweet).
We are in fact attending a wedding and chatting to fill time while we wait for the bride to arrive. The groom is already in the church, sweating a wet patch through his pristine white shirt. The heat? Could be. But my bet is that he is nervous and wondering if he has foolishly killed any last minute chance of sprinting out of here. I pray (being in church and all that) that the video recording of the service does not capture any snippets of our talk. SAS however has no such concerns as she states her opinion in a loud stage whisper which I swear can be heard three pews down.
How can seven years be a long time? I ask, bewildered. When you have promised "till death do us apart", you should be hoping for 50 years upwards. Do you really want death just seven years later? Should the priest modify his sermon to include "till death do you apart or till the first seven years, whichever comes first". And what about the astrologers who joyously tell you that you'll be together for the next seven lifetimes?
With certain people seven years can feel like seven lifetimes, SAS says, her voice no longer qualifying as a whisper (it is now gaining strength in terms of decible level and speed).
I hush her but it only fuels her enthusiam for the subject.
Besides, she continues, marriage and life span should not be so intricately connected. When the priest says - till death do you apart - he may not be talking about physical death but death of the marriage.
Her warped logic strangely makes sense and even I cannot argue it.
So how do people move beyond the seven year barrier? Is it like pretending it does not exist? Does one go from celebrating their sixth wedding anniversary directly to celebrating their eighth?
Oh well, says another friend sitting in the pew behind (I'll call him SAM for Semi Automatic Marriage), I decided to give the seventh year all I had. I had been flying on auto pilot for so long that I decided it was time to romance my wife, I wrote her poetry, I took her out, I complimented her.
Did it work? I was so curious. Could the seven year itch be appeased if enough effort was put into it?
The problem, SAM says, is that she continued to itch while I tried to be the emotional equivalent of soothing lotion .
Effort from his side did not equal effort from her side. It's a lesson hard learnt. Six years of being a bad partner could not be itched away so easily.
No one says marriage is easy.
The wedding on the other hand, proceeds without a hitch. Vows are exchanged in nervous voices, rings are exchanged with only mildly shaky hands, the kiss takes place (an unfortunately short one keeping in mind that parents were watching!). SAS sighs in disappointment over the last one. As the couple walk down the aisle after the ceremony is over, the bride is busy straightening her dress and veil and pushes the grooms hand away with a grimace as soon as he tries to help.
Trouble in paradise? I wonder aloud.
Oh no, SAS says gleefully, that's the seven year itch getting an early start on things.
Everything would have been just fine had the couple not heard us!
As I came home that night, I could not help but wonder - do all marriages go through this? If yes, the future looks kind of bleak.
Nonsense, says ALIA (stands for nothing, it really is just her name), best friend and confidant, married for 15 years. The seven year itch is a misnomer. It is actually pre-wedding jitters which are proven right over the course of the next seven years.
I am sorry I asked. And I rest my case.
A few nights later, I sit with MBH (that's Married But Happy!). She's the sister of the bride and the one who had to convince the bride not to beat SAS up in front of all the other guests.
How did you manage the seven year itch? I ask her.
She thinks about it. She looks at me and then decides that I deserve the truth.
I got my seven year itch in my second year, she says. I did everything one dreams of doing during this time. I gave into it completely. It was unadultrated hedonism 101. I got close to another man, I ignored my home, I went back to study, I went into therapy hoping to find myself, I travelled around the world pretty much for the same reason. I finally came back home 8 months later, completely spent and with the startling clarity for the very first time in my life that my husband and my marriage were absolutely perfect for ME. No other man and no other marriage would do it for me. The seven year itch saved my marriage and taught me more about life and choices than anything else ever will.
As for me, I dont know what the future holds. Does bliss today ensure an itch-proof tomorrow? I'm taking my chance with time, love and marriage. I'll learn my own lessons along the way.
But this much I know for sure - SAS should no longer be invited to weddings!