What Is the Seven-Year Itch? – Meaning & Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

The fundamental idea of the seven-year itch is romantic partners, especially married ones, who experience unhappiness after seven years of being together. While it’s considered a myth, it has been commonly used in pop culture and other contexts.

Let’s examine the meaning and origin of the phrase seven-year itch and check out my examples of how to use it in a sentence.

What Does the Expression “Seven-Year Itch” Mean?

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The seven-year itch or 7-year itch is when a married couple feels unhappy with their marriage after seven years. This situation usually involves infidelity, where one or both persons have sexual relationships with other people because the expectations of marriage are harder than they had imagined. 

This phrase is considered a myth but might have a common-sense appeal in relation to marriage. Newly-married couples experience a high during their first few years. But a huge transition is expected after the “honeymoon phase.” Many lucky couples don’t experience the “itch” at all.

The seven-year itch is an idiom because it doesn’t literally mean an itch that has been going on for seven years. Instead, we use its figurative meaning to describe relationship instability or relationship troubles at the seven-year point. With today’s divorce rate, I would even say people feel the “itch” before they reach seven years and use it as a convenient excuse to cheat.

Origin of “Seven-Year Itch”

The seven-year itch used to be a physical condition. It was a rash caused by a bacterial infection known as scabies. Back then, scabies took up to seven years to cure.

The use of the phrase seven-year itch can also be traced to the play Seven-Year Itch by George Axelrod in 1952. He borrowed it from the term used for the sickness to describe a person’s tendency to cheat after seven years of marriage and even with a couple of kids.

The play was turned into a movie, which became popular. Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell starred Seven-Year Itch.

Since then, the meaning of seven-year itch has changed drastically.

“Seven-Year Itch” Sentence Examples

  • The peaks in divorce rates at the seven-year mark prove that there’s weight behind the phrase “seven-year itch.”
  • Relationship restlessness has been linked directly to a timeline in marriages, spiking around year seven, contributing to the idea that there’s the seven-year itch.
  • We’ve only been dating for three years, but I feel the seven-year itch coming on already.
  • My husband and I sought the help of a couple’s therapist when we both felt the pangs of the seven-year itch driving a wedge in our relationship.
  • My parents ignored the seven-year itch and believed it wasn’t anything real. Now they’re getting divorced in their fifties and wasted most of their lives being miserable.

Do You Believe in the Seven-Year Itch?

There isn’t an exact time when a marriage is doomed to collapse. But the phrase seven-year itch could make you overthink if you and your partner are in your seventh year together.

Remember that this phrase means a situation where a married couple feels unhappy with their marriage after seven years. What other idioms do you wish to learn?