Some people have a gene linked with happy marriages, scientists find.
The secret to a happy marriage lies in the genes, scientists have discovered, as new research finds a predisposition not to be anxious is the key to marital stability.
When people get married, and stay together, their long-term happiness may depend on their individual genes or those of their spouse, says a new study led by Yale School of Public Health researchers.
Researchers examined 178 married couples and found a gene trait in common among those whose marriages were more secure.
The research team found that when at least one partner had a genetic variation known as the GG genotype within the oxytocin gene receptor, the couple reported significantly greater marital satisfaction and feelings of security within their marriage. Those couples had greater satisfaction compared with other couples who had different genotypes.
People with this gene variant are already known to show greater empathy, sociability and emotional stability.
Given the kind of characteristics that might contribute to a happy and successful marriage, it is perhaps unsurprising that this was the stretch of DNA found frequently in content spouses.
“This study shows that how we feel in our close relationships is influenced by more than just our shared experiences with our partners over time,” said Monin. “In marriage, people are also influenced by their own and their partner’s genetic predispositions,” says lead author Joan Monin, associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health.
The researchers also found that people with the GG genotype reported less anxious attachment in their marriage, which also benefited their relationship.
Anxious attachment is a style of relationship insecurity that develops from past experiences with close family members and partners over the life course, and is associated with diminished self-worth, high rejection sensitivity, and approval-seeking behavior, the Telegraph reports.
The researchers said that an individual’s GG genotype and their partner’s GG genotype together account for about 4% of the variance of marital satisfaction. Although this percentage is small, it is a significant influence considering other genetic and environmental factors to which couples are exposed.