Eternal Flame

Seven Year Itch

Seven Year Itch

I’m a triple Pisces, so it is part of my job description to feel sorry for, well, pretty well anyone. This week I felt sorry for Seal and Heidi Klum- not because they are famous, rich and gorgeous, but because this week they announced their separation after nearly 7 years of marriage.

That 7 years is a pretty important number- how often do we hear about the 7 year itch? Not just in terms of relationships- at the 7 year mark you may find enthusiasm for a job, a house, a project also waning. Those things that once seemed so exciting and compelling are now business as usual.

In relationships, those qualities which provided challenge and excitement have now become just plain annoying. Compatibilities become boring and arguments routine rather than an excuse for make up sex. Been there? Every relationship which has gone the distance has been there. Sometimes you get through it- find a way to keep going. Sometimes, though, it all seems way too hard and you call it a day…and it may well be that decision was the right one for that relationship.

In other celebrity news, French singer & actor, Vanessa Paradis is denying a split from her partner of 14 years, Johnny Depp. Two things about this:

  1. I am engaging in (shock, horror) celebrity gossip when I so don’t give a faff about who is doing what to whom or with whom. I am seriously (and I do mean seriously) not interested in famous people. Let them earn what they earn, do what they do…I don’t need to know…except for when I am at the hairdressers and just can’t avoid it…
  2. 14 years…alarm bells?

The elephant in the room here is, of course, the Saturn cycle.

Saturn takes 28 years to go around the chart. That means at year 7 he will form a square, at year 14 an opposition and at year 21 another square before coming back to his starting position (the Saturn return) at or around year 28.

We all know that the first Saturn return is hugely important- it is this time that we start to think about settling down, growing up, getting serious. At the 2nd Saturn return (mid-late 50s) we are entering a new phase- retirement. At this point we can choose to “retire” or we can choose to retire from one phase of life and jump holdus boldus into another. Will we be the type that rings Alan Jones or another of the right wing “shock jocks” (please don’t write to me) and complain about the youth of today or petrol prices or how much simpler life was before we had the internet and choice or will we be the cool older person that wants to keep learning and keep experiencing and keep achieving?

Think about what goes before. When we are around 7 we hit our first challenges square on. We are separated from Mum and at school and introduced to things like consequences and structures and rules. At 14 (or thereabouts) we hit puberty and have a whole new set of confronting boundaries. Then at 21 we are finishing University, venturing out into the workplace and having to put our money where our mouth is. New rules, new boundaries, new responsibilities, a whole new set of what is appropriate to learn.

Relationships follow the same Saturn cycle. They also follow a Venus cycle and a Mars cycle. Don’t believe me? Is there any coincidence why the rose coloured glasses seem to come off at around the anniversary mark and the lust seems to have settled down at the 2 ½ year mark? I’m not saying that it goes away, just that things become more comfortable. The drive, the intensity, the needing to absolutely consume that person becomes more accepted. This is why many relationships don’t last past the Venus cycle (there needs to be more than la vie en rose) or the Mars cycle (the nature of the relationship will change). If they do, they move into the realm of commitment- they move into Saturn.

Anyways, back to Saturn. Relationships follow the Saturn cycle. Marriages follow the Saturn cycle. And Saturn is seriously about time…and responsibilities and maturity…but above all, time.

At or around the first Saturn square, 7 years, often comes the 1st set of tests. This is the waxing square. Like the Moon cycle, things are opening up. You reach a fork in the road. Unless you are married to a Scorpio (I have to say that in case my Scorpio husband reads this), everyday life is business as usual. You may question what you are doing, you may look at single friends with some envy at their freedom (just don’t complain to them, because they may be wanting what you are now taking for granted).

One (or both) of you may start to look at the other side of the fence- that grass definitely looks greener. You may begin to question the commitment, the attraction, and the potential longevity of the relationship. You may wonder whether you have made a mistake. You may, often as a result, be attracted to another.

This is a test. Saturn likes tests.

You have come to a fork in the road. You examine the relationship. If it is truly worth continuing, it will pass the examination and you will move into a more stable and comfortable phase. If not, it will end. Maybe not now, but those seeds will have been sown. Whatever there was between you will have served its’ time.

At the 14 year mark we encounter the opposition. By this stage there is a lot of water under the bridge- in fact, the river is like the Amazon in severe flood and the bridge is rickety with missing planks and handholds that fall away- like the one in Romancing the Stone where Kathleen Turner just grabbed a hand hold and swung across the expanse, leaving Michael Douglas no option than to do the same.

At this point, the opposition point, if the stuff that wasn’t right wasn’t dealt with 7 years ago, you will need to deal with them (or finish them) now. You will need to decide whether to follow each other over the swollen river or shake hands at the edge, admit that it is all too hard and too wrong and too hopeless and part company.

There will be signals- a lot of them. Like knives twisting in the same wound in your back, like an undeniable attraction to an off limits colleague, like all the little pieces of dissatisfaction that you then choose to project onto your completely blameless and totally loyal partner. The signs will be there. They will be pulling you together and dragging you apart.

Lets say you get through this. You grit your teeth, you hold your breath and you grab your partners’ hand and sail out into the great unknown. You cross the bridge together. You may choose to stay together for the sake of the kids, for the money, the retirement fund or because other religious or cultural or familial reasons say that you should.

By the time you get to your 21st anniversary the waning square will give you another pop quiz. The same challenges that you faced 14 years ago will again be under examination. Is it time? Has the relationship done its’ time? Its’ like that old (very politically incorrect) joke about the married couple who on their 21st anniversary she finds him crying in the kitchen. She assumes he is fondly remembering their wedding day when in fact he is recalling that if he had used the shotgun, today would have been the day he was freed.

How many relationships do you hear of breaking up at this point? The kids are grown and there is no longer any really good reason to stay together? Except if you really truly want to be together.

By the time the relationship enters its’ Saturn return, it will have weathered much- job changes, residence changes, temptations. This brings its’ own crisis. Is this relationship really authentic to you? Is this person really the one you want to be looking at over the breakfast table when you’re older? Is this person really the one who should be getting your first smile of the morning, who is the last thing you think of before you go to bed at night and the first you think of in the morning? Is this person still the one?

Back in the days when marriage was first invented, nature helped us with these decisions- childbirth and early death saved many people from having to make choices that we are now presented with.  Now, we need to make our own choices- Saturn insists on it.

Unfortunately though, when you are a celebrity, these choices are made in the public arena- and I will always have sympathy for anyone whose love life becomes a matter of such public interest.

After watching an episode of Modern Family tonight, TTM asked us what “our song” is. It is the title of this post- we both agreed on that. For the record- 23 years together (18 years of marriage) this year…but who’s counting? That’s what Saturn cycles are for.

1 comment for “Eternal Flame

  1. Maica
    January 28, 2012 at 3:35 am

    Wow – this is a great post. You write very clearly and with humor so those of us who aren’t very ‘astro-savvy’ can get your meaning easily. thanks much.

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