When people divorce, they often reflect on what led up to the end of the marriage. Where did it all fall apart? What were the signs? Could it have been possible to predict that the marriage would end?
Realistically, there is no hard-and-fast rule for predicting divorce. And while there may be signs that the relationship was suffering, it isn’t always easy to see those signs until much later. However, one study suggests that there may be a biological explanation behind why a relationship may be more susceptible to divorce at certain times.
You might have heard the phrase “the seven-year itch,” which is the idea that people get restless, unfaithful or unhappy after being in a relationship for seven years.
However, according to a biological anthropologist, that theory doesn’t exactly pan out. According to her research, it’s more like the four-year itch, and it’s not unique to humans.
As this article in Scientific American explains, there is research suggesting that humans are like certain mammals and birds that partner up only long enough to create and raise offspring in their youngest years. Once the babies are old enough to survive on their own, the “parents” often split up as well and go on to reproduce with other mates.
This could explain why, from a biological standpoint, divorces peak in the fourth year of marriage. By that point, many couples have had their children and raised them until they wean and start receiving care and guidance from outside sources. Therefore, there may be what is referred to as a “natural weak point” in marriages around the fourth year.
While this is certainly interesting, there is no way to accurately predict that any marriage will fail in its fourth year or any other year. However, studies like this one may provide an interesting perspective on why you or your soon-to-be ex might be ready to end your marriage at certain times. These types of studies might also give you some reassurance that you are not alone in this experience.