The secret to a good marriage is all in your genes
It has to do with which variant of the oxytocin receptor gene - the love hormone - you have, say scientists
A good marriage may be partly genetic, scientists believe, after finding that some gene variants make people more supportive partners.
Researchers at Binghamton University in the US looked at how different variants of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) influence married couples.
Oxytocin is known as the love hormone because it helps people to bond, but different versions of the OXTR gene alter how the hormone is released and regulated, meaning some people find attachment and caring more difficult than others.
For the study scientists interviewed 79 couples, asking them to rate how supportive their partner was during difficult periods of their life. They then took saliva samples to find out which variant of OXTR they were carrying.
The results showed that marital quality was particularly affected when husbands carried a particular variant, which has in the past been linked with social deficits.
Husbands with the variant were less satisfied with the support they were provided by their wives and, overall, more unhappy with their marriage, than men with the variation which produced more oxytocin.
Associate professor of psychology Richard Mattson said: “We found that variation at two particular locations on OXTR impacted the observed behaviours of both husbands and wives, and that differences in behaviour across couples had small but cumulative effects on overall evaluations of support, and thus marital quality in general.
“We are the first to provide evidence that variation on specific genes related to oxytocin functioning impacts overall marital quality, in part because they are relevant to how partners provide and receive support from each other.”
The researchers hope the study will encourage more work looking at how genes influence relationships and marriage.
“Genes matter when it comes to the quality of marriage, because genes are relevant to who we are as individuals, and characteristics of the individual can impact the marriage,” added Mattson.
“Our findings were the first to describe a set of genetic and behavioural mechanisms for one possible route of the genetic influence on marriage.”
The research was published in the Journal of Family Psychology.
– © The Daily Telegraph