MOST married couples cite the ­notorious seven-year itch as the time when their relationships are most likely to break-up.

But now tiredness, exhaustion amid increasing workloads are playing a part in many hitting the rocks two years earlier.

A study of 2000 married people has claimed the fifth year is the toughest as all the pressures come home to roost.

The third year of marriage is now seen as the happiest by most of those questioned, with the seventh "the wall" which, if scaled successfully, paves the way for a long, happy and lasting relationship.

One in 10 admitted they didn't ­realise how hard marriage would be and others confessed to suffering an emotional comedown after the high of their wedding day, with one in five admitting there are days when they regretted the decision to get hitched completely.

Amanda McAlister of Slater & Gordon lawyers, which carried out the study, said: "The buzz of the first few years where everything is new is hard to maintain and often people find married life hasn't lived up to their expectations."