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Seven-Year Itch

Are relationship lulls fact or fiction?

The Exceptions

Some married couples don't get itchy. "Our relationship has only gotten better over the years," says Jeanne Gribbin of Reno, Nev., married 17 years. She and her spouse follow Barbach's golden rule: Give the marriage regular attention.

"People say marriage takes work, but I prefer to use the word attention," Barbach says. "Consult your partner before making plans or decisions, and if you both do that, you'll find you both get to do more of your own things. Set aside time to talk on a daily basis, even if it's just 20 minutes. Take time to get dressed up and go out on dates. If a marriage succumbs to the seven year itch, it's most likely because the couple turned a blind eye to their problems instead of solving them."

Elaine Marshall is a freelance writer living in Reno, Nev. She also reports for Time magazine and teaches at the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno.

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