How would you describe your marriage? If you are one of those lucky ones who feel they are in a happy marriage, then you don’t have to thank your stars. It may be someone else who deserves this credit – your genes. Researchers have found that one of the keys to a happy marriage could well be your genes. Sounds unbelievable, right? Well, don’t be too surprised. Just read on to know more about it.
What The Study Says
The study is based on the feeling of attachment security, which is a feeling that gives you emotional security in a relationship. The kind of attachment security you experience in your other close relationships can be beneficial for you as a married couple. This is because attachment security plays an important role in problem-solving, effective communication, and social support – all of which are strong predictors of marital satisfaction over time. Earlier, attachment security was thought to be influenced only by a person’s social life throughout their lifetime. However, some studies have shown that it can be influenced by genetic markers as well (1). One such genetic marker being oxytocin receptor. Oxytocin is a hormone that is produced in the hypothalamus in the brain and is associated with modulation of emotional and social behavior(2).
For the study, the lead author, Joan Monin, who is an associate professor at Yale School of Public Health, and her team together studied 178 married couples between the ages 37 to 90 years old. Each of the participants was asked to complete a survey about their feelings of marital satisfaction and security. They were also asked to provide a sample of their saliva for genotyping.
The study team found that if at least one of the partners had a GG genotype genetic variation within the oxytocin gene receptor, that couple reported a significantly increased rate of marital satisfaction as well as feelings of security within their marriage. Such couples had a greater satisfaction rate compared to other couples with a different type of genotype.
Researchers on this study also found that participants with the GG genotype also reported less anxious attachment in their marriage, which worked in favor of their relationship. Anxious attachment is a feeling of relationship insecurity that develops from a person’s past experiences with other close relationships like family members or partners over time. Anxious attachment creates high rejection sensitivity, diminished self-worth, and approval-seeking behavior.
As Monin explained, this study effectively shows that our feelings in close relationships are influenced more than just our shared experience with partners over time. It shows that people’s feelings and emotions, especially of married couples, is also influenced by their partner’s and their own genetic predisposition (3).
In simple words, it means that the feeling of attachment security in your marriage is not entirely influenced by your emotional attachments in the past in your close relationships. You and your partner’s individual genes can also be a major factor in making your marriage a happy one.
Monin and her team of researchers now believe that the finding of this study can pave the way for future studies on how a couples’ genotype can influence the outcomes in other close relationships over time.
While we are pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the study, it also makes us a tad insecure since our genes are not under our control. We all wish to have a happy married life, don’t we? But things can work out a bit differently than we plan simply because the definition of happiness in a marriage can be subjective. There is no single formula for ensuring happiness in marriage except that you put in honest efforts and work hard for it to succeed. And, if you and your spouse share the same outlook toward life and marriage, it makes it all the more fascinating to go through this journey together. However, on those occasions where you both find things falling apart, then go ahead and blame your hormones!