The secret to a happy marriage may lie hidden in the DNA, according to a new study.
Yale researchers identified a gene in certain people linked with reports of successful relationships.
While long-term bonds result from a complex blend of physical attraction, shared interests and values, the scientists say their results are evidence for a genetic role in marital bliss.
Based on their study of nearly 200 married couples, the scientists estimated roughly 4 per cent of the variation in people’s marriage satisfaction could be attributed to the presence of this gene.
The gene variation they identified was in a receptor for oxytocin – the “love hormone” known to play a role in social bonding and the ties between and mother and baby.
People with this gene variant – known as the GG genotype – are already known to show greater empathy, sociability and emotional stability.
Given the kind of characteristics that might contribute to a happy and successful marriage, it is perhaps unsurprising that this was the stretch of DNA found frequently in content spouses.
Each participant in the study, which included couples ranging in age from 37 to 90 years old, had to complete a survey about their feelings of security and satisfaction in their marriages.
They then had to provide a saliva sample that the researchers could test for the presence of the relevant genes.
The results, published in the journal PLOS ONE, mark the first link between the GG genotype and marital success, and the scientists said they now planned to investigate its effects in a larger group of people.
“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 Dr Joan Monin from the Yale School of Public Health, who led the research.
“In marriage, people are also influenced by their own and their partner’s genetic predispositions.”