A successful marriage often depends on a lot of factors – some complex and some simple. A recent study conducted on the topic made an interesting addition to the list – genes may have a discernible impact on the quality of marriage.
At the Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, researchers attempted to find out how a gene variant that influences oxytocin, also known as love hormone, might contribute to marital satisfaction and security in couples. Couples in their middle and later years were studied for the purpose of the research.
178 married couples aged between 37–90 years participated in the study. It was required of them to complete surveys and answer questions about their feelings of satisfaction and security in their marriage. To see if genes had something to do with marital bliss or not, the participants also had to submit saliva samples to researchers.
After a detailed analysis, according to Medical News, it was found that “when at least one of the partners in a couple carried a particular version of the oxytocin-related gene, both partners reported greater marital security and satisfaction.”
“This study,” says first author Joan K. Monin, an associate professor of public health, “shows that how we feel in our close relationships is influenced by more than just our shared experiences with our partners over time. In marriage, people are also influenced by their own and their partner’s genetic predispositions,” she adds. Throughout the evolution of “many species, ranging from invertebrates to mammals,” oxytocin, which is a hormone and chemical messenger, has been present.
Oxytocin works by attaching to its corresponding receptor protein. In this case, variations that occur at location rs53576 on the oxytocin receptor gene OXTR were studied.
As per the same report, “The variation, or single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), can result in an A or a G version. An SNP is like changing a single letter when spelling a word. As each person inherits two copies of a gene, this means that this particular SNP has three “genotypes:” GG, AA, and AG.”
Individuals who have GG genotypes of the SNP “show greater empathy, sociability, and emotional stability,” write the authors. Moreover, if such individuals are linked to individuals with the same GG geneotype, it was noted that they had greater marital satisfaction than people with different groups, say AG or AA.
The results also revealed that individuals with a GG genotype reported less “anxious attachment” in their relationship, which also helped their marital satisfaction.
“Results of this study suggest that having at least one spouse in a marriage with an OXTR GG genotype is associated with both partners feeling satisfied and this is because spouses feel more securely attached to one another”, the authors said.