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The seven year itch is real, says statistician

The so-called ‘seven year itch’ is a real phenomenon, a Cambridge statistician has claimed.

Speaking at the Hay Festival, Sir David Spiegelhalter of Churchill College, Cambridge, said British couples were statistically most likely to divorce seven years after tying the knot.

The professor told his audience:

“Seven years is the peak risk time for divorce during a marriage. [The risk of divorce] just steadily declines as we get used to each other.”

Seven years after marriage, the risk of divorce declines steadily, year on year, he said. His claims were based on detailed analysis of  data from the Office for National Statistics.

The average divorce rate drops from 3.25 per cent after seven years of marriage to just one-and-a-half per cent after 16 years together.

The seven year effect still applies if the couple lived together before marrying, he added, but from date of their marriage not the date they moved in together.

The phrase ‘seven year itch’, referring to a decline in marital happiness, comes from  a 1952 play by American screenwriter George Axelrod. It was later adapted into a 1955 film starring Marilyn Monroe.

Sir David’s book Sex by Numbers: What Statistics Can Tell Us About Sexual Behaviour was published last year.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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