Laban said, “Just because you’re my nephew, you shouldn’t work for me for nothing. Tell me what you want to be paid. What’s a fair wage?” Now Laban had two daughters; Leah was the older and Rachel the younger. Leah had nice eyes, but Rachel was stunningly beautiful. And it was Rachel that Jacob loved.
So Jacob answered, “I will work for you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” “It is far better,” said Laban, “that I give her to you than marry her to some outsider. Yes. Stay here with me.” So Jacob worked seven years for Rachel. But it only seemed like a few days, he loved her so much. Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife; I’ve completed what we agreed I’d do. I’m ready to consummate my marriage.” Laban invited everyone around and threw a big feast. At evening, though, he got his daughter Leah and brought her to the marriage bed, and Jacob slept with her. (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as her maid.)
Morning came: There was Leah in the marriage bed! Jacob confronted Laban, “What have you done to me? Didn’t I work all this time for the hand of Rachel? Why did you cheat me?” “We don’t do it that way in our country,” said Laban. “We don’t marry off the younger daughter before the older. Enjoy your week of honeymoon, and then we’ll give you the other one also. But it will cost you another seven years of work.”.—Genesis 29:15-27 (MSG)
I’m not sure where the term “seven-year itch” came from. I never saw the movie, although from the Google search I now know it is the one where Marilyn Monroe’s dress blows up over her head. I suppose it means that after 7 years of marriage, the assumption is that you will get tired of your spouse and want to move on to greener pastures.
Last week, my wife and I celebrated our 8-year anniversary during our Florida vacation. Officially, her anniversary gift was a free pair of buttons from the Walt Disney Company that said “Happy Anniversary” on them (because I’m cheap like that). They came with the added benefit of every cast member in the park reflexively wishing her a Happy Anniversary every time they saw her. That didn’t get old until I tried to wear the button at work yesterday and everyone looked at me funny.
I suppose I should forgive this person who shall remain nameless, but someone told my wife the night that we met 8.5 years ago that I wasn’t the right person for her, and he didn’t really see us together as a couple. In hindsight, maybe he was trying to split us up to get a shot at me (if you know what I mean), but I have always made that a driving force behind not screwing this whole thing up. I would never, ever want to prove that guy right.
So, look at Jacob. Here he is going along his merry way and falling in love with Rachel, but in this story, the con man got worked by his uncle Laban. After working for seven years to win Rachel, Laban gave Leah to Jacob on their wedding night instead. To get the wife he actually bargained for, he had to work for Laban another seven years to get Rachel. His seven-year itch was that he got the wife he didn’t want but kept getting her pregnant. In the meantime, Rachel was barren during those seven years.
And, even more ironically, even though Jacob had a seven-year itch to get with Rachel, the Messianic line actually goes through his son Judah, which he had with Lean, and not through Joseph or Benjamin. That’s because God is funny like that.
Hopefully, you’ve never had to suffer through the seven-year itch yourself, and if you have, hopefully you’ve gotten through it. I wonder though if anybody else has had the same experience as I have. Has somebody ever tried to willfully break up your marriage or curse it before it started? If you’d care to share your story in the comments, that would be great.