Marriage Meltdown Moments

About half of all marriages end in divorce (although that number is shrinking), and research shows that most of those divorce papers are served within the first decade together.

Mark your calendars now, these may be the times you want to watch out for...

The Two-Year Chemical Crash

A Danish study showed that one in 12 marriages is headed for divorce after only two years. "You go into a relationship, you gather information, and at some point you make a decision," says lead researcher Michael Svarer of the University of Aarhus. "That point seems to be two years." On the bright side, giving in to a two-year itch doesn't mean you're damaged goods. According to the numbers, within five years you're likely to be in another relationship. Hopefully one that sticks!

Four an Unlucky Number

"Worldwide, studies indicate that divorces peak in the fourth year of marriage," says Dr. Dino Pranzarone, professor of psychology at Roanoke College in Salem, Va. Many scientists speculate that this is the point when the chemicals in our brain that are responsible for love begin to wane. "It's only after that hormone rush wears off that we see the person as he or she really is," says Pranzarone. "We become disillusioned and feel that we are no longer in love. We think they have changed when in reality, our neurochemistry has." Your love has fizzled out, but nature has won. You stayed together long enough to mate and raise a child to its second or third year.

Seven-Year Itch

Experts say this phase is often characterized by feelings of restlessness or re-examining your relationship, or just plain curiosity about what you're missing out there. Plus, after several long years together, you and your partner may have found yourselves drifting further apart and communicating less. Couples here tend to forget that their marriage isn't going to run on its own and begin to question whether they've made the right choice.

So what good does it do for you to dwell on these dark periods of your marriage? If you're prepared for the normal downturns in your relationship, you'll be better equipped to handle the emotional strain you're bound to experience. Hang in there!

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