You can pretend you are immune. You may go around singing I Only Have Eyes for You. Even if you’re on key, you’re probably lying.

The Seven-Year Itch is reality, folks — for men and women.

“The cross-cultural data are pretty clear we are designed for serial monogamy,” says Dean Hamer, a biochemist with the National Institutes of Health.

The urge to merge is at some point replaced by the urge to split, and studies worldwide confirm this.

Evolutionarily speaking, men seek sexual variety and ample mating opportunities to “spread the seed.” Women seek to secure the best provider possible for themselves and their children.

This “pattern of decay” in sexual relationships is particularly strong for men and women in their prime reproductive years, according to researcher Helen Fisher.

But while some would say we’re biologically and historically destined to experience the seven-year itch, there are enough success stories out there to convince us straying is not mapped out in our DNA.

Wake up and smell the post-paleolithic world

Most men don’t want to fulfill their erstwhile biological mandate. “Social commitment is as important as any rush of testosterone,” says Jim McKenna, professor of biological anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. You may find women other than your wife attractive, but that doesn’t mean you’ll act on it.

Hollywood and some anthropologists would have us believe that women would trade in their husbands for a wealthier model if given the chance Demi Moore’s character had in the movie Indecent Proposal. But the reality is most women have more invested in their relationships with their husbands than a bank account. Not to mention the fact that many women also earn their own living.

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In some parallel universe, sex is perfect. Not only is it always flat-out fantastic; you get precisely what you want without asking.

In this universe, you have to ask.

1. Make your request an invitation.
Use positive words and phrases, says Kevin Gogin, a marriage and family counselor. “I thought it would be fun if …”

2. Be specific.
It may seem awkward to give a tutorial in the middle of lovemaking, but practice makes perfect.

3. Make everything voluntary.
When you put the pressure on, the message is, “You better give me what I deserve.” Asking instead of telling makes your request a choice.

4. Cater to your partner’s desires.
The more you take interest in what thrills her, the more she will want to do likewise.

5. Feel free to change your mind.
Expressing your likes, writes Dr. Miriam Stoppard in The Magic Of Sex, “doesn’t mean … you might express a different preference on a different occasion.”

6. Be adventurous — a little at a time.
Before you whip out the handcuffs, “start with something simple,” advises Michael Castleman in Sexual Solutions.

7. Master love outside the bedroom.
Do you give her a foot rub without prompting? Do you seek him out the second you walk in the door? Work on giving each other what you want on many levels.

8. Don’t take it too seriously.
Sex may be an important part of your life, but a single experience is not. Keep it fun and playful.

9. Open up to new experiences.
And put them in writing, suggests Tracey Cox, author of Hot Relationships. Each person lists 10 things he or she would like to do in bed. Trade lists. Ditch what you can’t agree on.

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Mark and Heather Roberts

He: Is a 44-year-old federal agent.

How they met: Roberts met his wife Heather at a restaurant in Newport Beach, Calif., where both were working at the time.

What he loved about her then:”We were helping a mutual friend move, and Heather was wearing shorts,” he remembers. “So I was initially attracted by her legs. After that, she invited me to go dancing with some friends and she was really nice.”

What he loves about her still: The Roberts have been married for nearly 14 years, and over that time Mark’s attraction to Heather has evolved.

“When I think about loving Heather now, I don’t really focus on the physical aspect,” he says. “I mostly think about the inside — how nice she is and how great she is with our kids.”

Joe and Ilene Dimitri

He: Is a 51 year-old wine store manager.

How they met:Twenty-two years ago Joe met his wife Ilene at the last place anyone expects to meet his future wife.

“We met in a bar,” laughs Joe. “She was a cocktail waitress and I was an unsuspecting customer.”

What he loved about her then: “I noticed her eyes first, but I was probably most attracted to her because she looked like Lorraine Newman fromSaturday Night Live. I think that’s the real reason.”

What he loves about her still: They’ve been married for 15 years, and while Ilene has since outgrown the Lorraine Newman look, Joe says he continues to love her for many of the same qualities he was drawn to in 1979.

“I’m still attracted to her eyes, plus her sense of humor, her intelligence and sense of style,” he says. “I always liked those things about her.”

Her story: Ilene says Joe’s attraction to her has grown stronger over the years. “He tells me that I’m more beautiful now than ever,” she says. “It’s interesting how the initial components of attraction are still there.”

Sam and Lisa Armor

He: Is a 48-year-old massage therapist.

How they met: Sam met his wife Lisa at a San Francisco art show.

What he loved about her then:”Lisa was easily the most stunning woman in the room,” he says. “She had long, blond hair and the brightest green eyes. I went up to her and made a silly comment about a painting she was admiring, and we ended up spending the rest of the evening together.”

What he loves about her still: Though Sam says that he was initially attracted by Lisa’s looks, he soon came to admire her spirituality and healthy outlook on life. After 19 years of marriage, she still charms him.

“Lisa loves going to yoga classes and eating good food, so she’s really taken care of her body,” says Armor. “She does that for herself, not for me. She’s still gorgeous, but that’s just a bonus. Lisa has a wonderful soul, and we share the same values. I can’t imagine being with anyone else.”

So just what has kept the attraction alive for these men through decades of marriage, while others go running for affairs or divorces?

“Marriage is a ‘people-growing’ process, and if you don’t give up on yourself and your partner, you can go on to have thebest sex and intimacy of your lives in middle age,” asserts Schnarch.

The maturity and openness these men show their wives is only part of the equation. Their wives’ attitudes also help to fuel the flames. All four women radiate a confidence that is far more alluring and enduring than long legs in short shorts or sparkling green eyes.

This confidence is a powerful aphrodisiac. “In the letters that I get, men say the thing that really turns them on is when women know that they’re sexy and act like it,” says Levine. “Not by dressing youthfully or wearing too-short skirts, but by projecting confidence in themselves, their bodies and their sexuality.”

And one of the best ways to make a woman feel confident and beautiful, Levine says, is to tell her how attractive she is. “The happiest couples tend to compliment each other frequently,” she says. “People who do that are much less likely to stray or be unhappy.”

Sure beats signing your soul away for eternal youth.

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