– EN Fitness & Wellbeing – New research has found that the secret to a good marriage may be all in the genes – as certain inherited characteristics make for an emotionally supportive partner.
A team of experts, led by America’s Binghamton University associate professor of psychology Richard Mattson, found that those with certain combinations of the Oxytocin Receptor (OXTR) gene made for more caring lovers. The gene helps determine how the body regulates oxytocin, a hormone associated with feelings of love, attachment, and other social behaviour.
The scientists assessed 79 couples who were asked to discuss their own personal problems with their partner for 10 minutes and collated data from questionnaires which asked about the quality of the support they received and were given as well as the overall quality of their marriage.
After testing DNA samples, they found that husbands with a particular OXTR genotype, which past researchers have found can be associated with social deficiencies, were less satisfied with the support they received from their wives.
“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,” Professor Mattson said. “However, what emerged as most relevant to overall marital quality for both partners was genotypic variation among husbands.”
He believes that the specific OXTR genes in both men and women are vital to assessing the quality of marriages as they determine the how ready we are to provide emotional support – a critical aspect of any long-term intimate relationship.
The researchers now hope to undertake additional studies into how OXTR genes affect marriages, as well as looking into how other genetic factors help determine whether a person will make a good husband or wife,
“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,” Professor Mattson explained.