Staying happy in your marriage could be linked to your genes




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How long you stay married to your partner could be linked to your genes, new study suggests

  • Researchers conducted a survey of 178 married couples from 37 to 90 years old
  • Each participant completed a survey about their feelings of marital security 
  • The participants also provided a saliva sample for genetic make up testing 
  • People who had the GG genotype within the oxytocin gene receptor said they were more happy in their marriage compared to those with different genotypes

How long you stay married to your partner could be linked to your genes, a new study suggests.

While people fall in love for a variety of reasons, the length of time you stay with your spouse may depend on the version of the gene responsible for producing oxytocin – dubbed the ‘love hormone’.

Experts found that if at least one partner had a specific variant within the oxytocin gene receptor, the couple had a greater chance of marital bliss.

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The amount of time you stay married to your partner could be linked to your genes, according to a study. People fall in love for a variety of reasons – similar interests, physical attraction and shared values (stock image)

Oxytocin is a hormone that plays a role in social bonding and plays a significant role in social processes such as bonding, building trust and nurturing relationships.

The study, led by Yale School of Public Health researchers, examined 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.

Those who carried the GG genotype within the oxytocin gene receptor reported feelings of security within their marriage 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 Lead author Joan Monin, associate professor at Yale University, who conducted the study.

‘In marriage, people are also influenced by their own and their partner’s genetic predispositions.’

Those who carried the GG genotype within the oxytocin gene receptor reported feelings of security within their marriage compared with other couples who had different genotypes (stock image)

Those who carried the GG genotype within the oxytocin gene receptor reported feelings of security within their marriage compared with other couples who had different genotypes (stock image)

The researchers also found that people with the GG genotype reported less anxious attachment in their marriage. 

Professor Monin said that anxious attachment is a style of relationship insecurity that develops from past experiences, and is associated with diminished self-worth, high rejection sensitivity, and approval-seeking behaviour.

The researchers said 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.

The study findings may lead to future studies to examine how couples’ genotypes interact to influence relationship outcomes over time.  

The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE

WHAT IS THE ‘CUDDLE HORMONE’ OXYTOCIN?

Oxytocin, known as the ‘love hormone’, engenders trust and generosity.

The chemical is released naturally from the brain into the blood of humans and other mammals during social and sexual behaviours.

It is produced by women during labour to help them bond with their baby, and stimulates the production of breast milk.

The chemical is also released during lovemaking, earning it the nickname ‘the cuddle hormone’.

Other loving touches, from hugging a teddy bear to stroking your pet dog, also trigger the hormone’s release.

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