What is it about the number seven? Many people consider seven to be a lucky digit…a good one to bet money on or a sign of good fortune. Who’s to say if any number is actually any more fortunate than another? People shy away from the number 13 and all things associated, fearing something terrible might happen. Nothing particularly bad has happened to me on a Friday the 13th or because I inadvertently selected that number. I have, however, seen a streak of bad luck out of good ol’ number 7!
Ever heard of a seven year itch? Some believe that at about the seven-year mark in a relationship it will endure a test of strength and either fail or pass. I have to think there’s just a little bit of truth to this bit of old wives’ wisdom.
My first marriage fizzled at year seven. When I reflect on that relationship and relationships in general, I find myself concluding that seven years sounds about like the perfect amount of time to endure a significant commitment with another and draw one of two conclusions: 1) you either adore this person and can’t wait to spend an eternity together or 2) you’ve absolutely had enough of this person and can’t stand the thought of another minute!
I’m not alone in reaching the “get a divorce” space in the Game of Life at or around year seven. In fact, most studies agree that the average length of a marriage that concludes in divorce is 7-8 years.
So, what happens around the time this milestone is reached?
We become complacent and bored with our relationships. The habits and unique traits of our mate begin to wear on and annoy us. The sparkle of new love has faded into the mundane routine of bills, laundry, and parenting responsibilities. We begin to forget what it was that first drew us to our spouse in the first place, and perhaps lose touch with our own identities as they absorb into someone else’s.
Every relationship has ups and downs and requires work to remain satisfactory. What is it about magic number seven that it so crucial?
Do you recall the old superstition about seven years of bad luck if you break a mirror?
Seven years again…
Here’s where it gets interesting. This old myth comes from the ancient notion that one’s reflection was part of his or her soul, so if one’s reflection (in a pool of water, a mirror, or so on) is disrupted, damage could also be don’t to the soul. The ancients considered such an act to mark the end of a life and, supposedly, it takes seven years for renewal and growth to occur. So, if your soul is damaged, you have seven fragmented years before becoming whole again.
Thankfully, during the seven years of waiting, complete rebirth and rejuvenation can occur. It’s actually quite a beautiful thought to imagine an opportunity for a new start at life after seven years in the dark.
This in itself reminds me of divorce!
What happens in seven-year spans within our lifetime? Imagine your own reflection in a mirror seven years at-a-time. At age 21 I looked and was a very different person from who I was at 28 or at 35. The core of who I was remained the same, but (as any of us should) I continued to grow and evolve over time. Seven years is a pretty accurate unit of measurement by which we can notice real change, physical, mental, and otherwise in ourselves.
So, not only may your reflection appear very different after the length of time in question; but, you are no longer completely the same person- literally! The ancients who developed this theory did not have the benefit of modern science to know that on a cellular level a human being becomes a new person cell-by-cell in increments of about seven years, as well!
Hopefully you are shaped by life experiences, become wiser, and more interesting as you develop. The problem with the changes that occur in an individual’s life during seven years is that they may end up making them incompatible with their partner. Don’t forget that, simultaneously, your partner is undergoing a host of changes too. The other fascinating thing about this idea of the transformation that occurs within seven years brings me back around to the moment when things start to get itchy after seven years in a relationship.
Seven years of growing and changing could result in becoming a sentence of seven year’s bad luck if a couple isn’t careful to grow and transform between one seven-year-step to the next. I’m not a doctor, but the anti-itch salve I would prescribe to soothe (or hopefully prevent) the inevitable itch is full understanding of how important it is to remain connected, not take one another for granted, continue to develop shared interests, always treat the other with respect, and be aware that changes will continuously occur personally and as a couple.
We’re all entitled to our opinions about whether or not seven is the luckiest number. At first glance, I concluded that seven was my curse because it was the limit for what my marriage could exist. The fact is that seven served as a necessary point of honest assessment. It took my divorce to put it all into perspective for me, but I realized that my marriage was only equipped to be a short term relationship. We were not compatible enough to go the distance. We were too young and didn’t know ourselves well enough, let alone each other.
Seven saved me. I became a woman in seven. I found my voice and my purpose in seven. Seven was brutal, and seven broke my heart; but, then seven also embraced me, helped me stand back up, and evolve into the person I was always meant to be. For seven I was in the dark, but after seven I bloomed like a rare and fragrant orchid. Most importantly, down to the last tiny cell in my body, I was made new and prepared to conquer my next seven!
This article originally appeared on DivorcedMoms
Photo credit: Getty Images