Whether you're married, single, in a relationship, or just playing the field, you've probably wondered about those old couples you always see in restaurants. You know, the ones who still look so in love, gaze into each others' eyes constantly, and don't even really bicker. It seems like they have it all; they've got marriage down. Well, it turns out there might be a reason for their marital bliss that isn't *entirely* rooted in communication (although communication is still very important!). In fact, the secret to a happy marriage could actually have a lot more to do with science.
Sure, that old couple may have arguments from time to time, and will tell you that the secret to their happiness talking it out. But a new study conducted by researchers at Yale University uncovered that genes may play an important role in happy marriages as well. The study, published in Feb. 2019, surveyed a total of 178 married couples, aged 37 to 90 years old, about how happy they were in their marriages. Joan Monin, an associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health and the lead author of the study, also took a saliva sample to test their genes. "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," Monin said. "In marriage, people are also influenced by their own and their partner’s genetic predispositions."
The study, published in Feb. 2019, looked at a total of 178 married couples, aged 37 to 90 years old, and surveyed the participants about how happy they were in their marriages, and also took a saliva sample to test their genes. The results? Well, when one partner in the marriage "had a genetic variation known as the GG genotype within the oxytocin gene receptor," as the study reported, the pair tended to say they had "greater marital satisfaction and feelings of security within their marriage." Moreover, there appeared to be a direct correlation between the married couples who were happier in their marriages and that specific genotype.
But the GG genotype didn't just appear to impact the couples' marital satisfaction. The study also discovered that the individuals with the genotype reported less anxious attachment in their relationship with their spouses, which could further strengthen the belief that their marriages are happy and healthy. Anxious attachment basically means that you've been hurt badly before, either in your childhood or in a previous relationship, and it can cause you to fear rejection and seek approval. According to the study, Individuals with the GG genotype reported that they were less likely to experience anxious attachment.
Now, let me be clear: Just because someone doesn't have the GG genotype doesn't mean that they'll never be happy in their relationship. The study reported that the GG genotype really only accounted for four percent "of the variance of marital satisfaction." Yes, it may have the potential to make a difference, but it in no way means that those without the genotype will be dissatisfied in their relationship.
Relationships and marriages are hard. They take work. Know that the happy, old couple you always see at your coffee shop has had to put in a lot of effort, honesty, and communication over the year. If you ask me, that's more romantic than any gene out there.