Several researches have shown that people fall in love for so many reasons, to some, physical attraction, similar beliefs or interests, and to others it is the same values they share. However, a new research led by Yale School of public health researchers shows that if couples stay together for a long-term, their happiness may depend on their individual genes or those of their spouses.
The study which was published in the journal PLOS ONE, examined the role of a genetic variation that affects oxytocin, a hormone that plays a role in social bonding.
Associate professor and lead author Joan Monin, and her team studied 178 married couples ranging in age from 37 to 90 years old. Each participant completed a survey about their feelings of marital security and satisfaction, and also provided a saliva sample for genotyping.
They 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.
While the oxytocin receptor variant, OXTR rs53576, has been previously studied and linked to personality traits such as emotional stability, empathy, and sociability, the new study is believed to be the first to examine its role in marital satisfaction.
“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”.
The researchers also found that people with the GG genotype reported less anxious attachment in their marriage, which also benefitted their relationship. Anxious attachment is a style of insecured relationship 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 behaviour, said Monin.
The researchers asserted that an individual’s GG genotype and their partner’s GG genotype together account for about 4 per cent 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.
“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”, the study found.