Monday, September 28, 2015

the seven (or eight) year itch

According to wikipedia, the "seven-year itch" is a term that suggests that the happiness in a relationship declines after around year seven... The phrase originated as a name for irritating and contagious skin complaints of a long duration.

This summer, my husband and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary and so I thought we had dodged the dreaded seven-year itch. Well, in the midst of being utterly irritated with my husband recently, I started to itch... on my wedding ring finger! Oh, the irony.

I removed my ring to find my finger chapped, red and, like my mental state, completely irritated! Was my finger suddenly rejecting my wedding ring? Was this a sign?? Could this seven-year itch be true???

Apparently, wedding ring dermatitis is a common condition that is caused by soap build up under the ring or the allergic reaction to nickel found in white gold. 

I love my husband. I do. I am one of those rare gals who married her high school sweetheart. We made it through a long distance relationship in college, a major diagnosis and illness, the deaths of our fathers, many, many stupid arguments, and big, "That's it! It's over!" blow outs. We went from living together and thinking our quirks were cute to being married and getting on each other's nerves on a regular.

I know I make our relationship sound oh so {not} wonderful, but I do believe that all of the tough stuff has strengthened our bond even more than the good stuff (of which we have plenty as well... really!).

But, after seven to eight years, I have found that marriage can be really, really difficult. Things that used to be easy between us have become major work. We are so busy and crazed that we have to remember things like speaking to each other in a kinder tone (i.e. "Could you please put your dish in the sink, sweetie?" versus "Would you put your damn dish in the sink for once!"), kissing good bye, saying "I love you." We seem to do all of this very well with Lila. We simultaneously shower her with hugs and kisses and "I love you's" but sadly we don't always treat each other with the same amount of affection.

I could argue that we don't need to do these things because the love between us is a given. Perhaps it is displayed in more practical ways. For instance, my husband will anticipate me rushing back into the house in the morning because I have forgotten something (again) and he will be ready to pass this item into my hand (cell phone, water bottle, travel mug... car keys) like a baton, making my morning a little smoother. And, despite the fact that I am a vegetarian, I will clean, trim, and prepare my husband's chicken, gagging at the raw gross-ness, so that he has something to eat after working late. We will do these things for each other even when, at a given moment, we can't stand each other. Isn't that love? Couldn't that be considered affection?

But, when looking at my irritated finger, I realize that I can't just wear the ring and ignore what's going on underneath. Relationships need care and attention. This is something we can't ignore or take for granted because what starts as a minor irritation can quickly spread and become unbearable. 

As my finger heals, I am emailing my husband date night ideas. He is arranging the child care. In time, all will become healthy once again... and we will take good care to keep it that way.  -Tara

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