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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Yale: Study Shows Genetics May Play a Role in a Happy Marriage

People fall in love for many reasons — similar interests, physical attraction, and shared values among them. But if they marry and stay together, their long-term happiness may depend on their individual genes or those of their spouse, says a new study led by Yale School of Public Health researchers, Dr. Joan Monin, associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health, 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.The research team 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.”

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 relationship insecurity 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 behavior, said Dr. Monin.
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