Four year itch reported in Scientific American 18 December 2014. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University, has collected worldwide data on marriage and divorce to see if there is any biological basis for the “seven year itch” – a desire to leave one’s marriage partner after seven years. She found that for couples who divorced, the most common length of marriage was four years. She also found “divorce occurred most frequently among couples at the height of their reproductive and parenting years … and among those with one dependent child.”

To explain this “four year itch” she looked at pair bonding in mammals and birds. She found that 90 percent of birds formed monogamous pairs, but only three percent of mammals formed such pairs. Furthermore, most bird and mammal pairs split up when their mutual offspring were reared beyond infancy, i.e. when young birds fly the nest.

According to Fisher, “Humans retain traces of this natural reproductive pattern. In more contemporary hunter-gatherer societies, women tend to bear their children about four years apart. Moreover, in these societies after a child is weaned at around age four, the child often joins a playgroup and is cared for by older siblings and relatives. This care structure allows unhappy couples to break up and find a more suitable partner with whom to have more young”.

She went on to say: “The four-year divorce peak among modern humans may represent the remains of an ancestral reproductive strategy to stay bonded at least long enough to raise a child through infancy and early toddlerhood. Thus, we may have a natural weak point in our unions. By understanding this susceptibility in our human nature, we might become better able to anticipate, and perhaps be able to avoid, the four-year itch. .(emphasis in original)

Scientific American

Editorial Comment: It is good that Helen Fisher wants couples to avoid splitting up after four years, but her fallacy is that human behaviour can be explained or justified by animal behaviour, simply because human beings are not just animals, nor even related to them. Human beings were created separately from animals, and are made in the image of God. Therefore, our behaviour should be guided by the Creator’s instructions, and not by the behaviour of animals. Right from the beginning God gave clear instructions that marriage was to be one man and one woman, faithful to one another for life. (See Genesis 1:26-27, 2:24, Matthew 19:3-6) The “susceptibility in our human nature” that tempts people to be unfaithful is due, not to animal leftovers, but to the sin problem we have inherited from our first parents who rebelled against God in the garden in Eden. Therefore, the only solution is to look to the Creator Christ for guidance and forgiveness especially in His institution called marriage. (Ref. relationships, marriage, sociology)

Evidence News vol. 15 No. 1
4 February 2015
Creation Research Australia