The researchers at Yale have investigated how a certain gene variant that affects the love hormone oxytocin can contribute to marital security and satisfaction.
The research includes 178 married couples between the years of 37 to 90 years who completed different surveys about their feelings of security and satisfaction in their marriage. Every volunteer also provided their saliva samples to be genetically tested.
The results indicated that when one of the two people in a couple had a certain version of the oxytocin-related gene, there was a greater marital satisfaction and security between the couple.
This study shows that what you feel in close relationships is influenced by more than shared experiences with the partners over time. In marriage, people are also affected by their own as well as well the genetic predisposition.
Oxytocin and its Receptor Variants
Throughout the evolution of species, oxytocin, a famous hormone, and a chemical messenger, has been present.
In recent years, several studies have demonstrated the impact of oxytocin on social and emotional behaviors, ranging from social stress, social memory, trust, and empathy.
Oxytocin exerts its full effects by binding to the corresponding receptor protein. The recent study focused on the variants that occur at location rs53576 on the receptor OXTR.
The variation or a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) can result in a G or an A version. An SNP is similar to changing a single letter in the spellings of a word.
As every person receives two copies of every gene, this indicates that a certain SNP has three different kinds of genotypes i.e. AA, GG, and AG.
People who have the GG versions or genotypes of the SNP exhibit more sociability, empathy, and emotional stability. Several close relationships have also been established between this genotype and better relationships.
However, the scientists also believe that this study is the first one to find links between the oxytocin receptor variants of the partners and their marital security and satisfaction.
GC genotypes Lead to Better Marital Satisfaction
In this investigation, the researchers checked the feelings of marital satisfaction and security against AA, AG, and GG genotypes of all spouses individually. The analysis revealed that people with a GG genotype or with a partner with this genotype had better marital satisfaction as compared to people with AG or AA genotypes.
Partners that both had GG genotypes had 4 percent of the variance in their marital satisfaction.
The team suggests that this figure may seem to be low but it is not insignificant. A lot of other factors, both genetic and environmental, can affect the lives of couples.
The results also showed that people with GG genotypes were found to have a less anxious attachment in their relationship which led to better marital satisfaction.
Previous studies have associated anxious attachment with a higher sensitivity to rejection, approval-seeking behavior, and feelings of low self-worth.
The study concluded that having at least one spouse with OXTR GG genotype is linked with an increased marital satisfaction between both partners. This is possibly because the spouses feel more attached to one another.