CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons/chelly cruz
Everybody dreams of a happy marriage but not everyone gets to have one. Ever wonder why some couples live in marital bliss while others are suffering from unhappiness and dissatisfaction in their married lives? According to a new study published on October 7, 2013 in the journal "Emotion," it looks like the secret to a happy marriage lies in the couple's genes.
Researchers from University of California (UC) Berkeley and Northwestern University reportedly found out that over time, the association between emotional behavior and the changes in marital satisfaction were moderated by the 5-HTTLPR Polymorphism in the Serotonin Transporter Gene.
This means that there is a link between a gene variant, or "allele," known as 5-HTTLPR and relationship fulfillment. All humans inherit a copy of this gene variant from each parent.
The researchers, which include Claudia Haase, Laura Saslow, Robert Levenson, James Casey, Benjamin Seider, Jessica Lane, Lian Bloch, Giovanni Coppola and Sarina Saturn used data from a 13-year longitudinal study of middle-aged and older adults in long-term marriages.
They found out that individuals with short alleles of 5-HTTLPR who have higher negative and lower positive emotional behavior at Time 1, predicted declines in marital satisfaction over time.
However, individuals with two short alleles of 5-HTTLPR and low levels of negative or high levels of positive emotion had the highest levels of marital satisfaction.
This indicates that people with short alleles are not happy in their marriages because of an abundance of negative emotion, like contempt and anger. But, they are at their happiest in their union when there is a lot of positive emotion, such as affection and humor.
The study shows that being positive is truly beneficial not only to one's wellbeing, but also to those they come in contact with, especially the people they live with every day.
For those who have one or two long alleles, the researchers found that their emotional behavior did not predict changes in marital satisfaction. In short, these people are more or less unaffected by the changes in positive and negative emotions within their marriage.
"An enduring mystery is, what makes one spouse so attuned to the emotional climate in a marriage, and another so oblivious?" said UC Berkeley psychologist Robert W. Levenson, senior author of the study.
"With these new genetic findings, we now understand much more about what determines just how important emotions are for different people."
And so, the secret is out. When looking for a potential mate, one should add genetic makeup to the list of things to consider. Here's to good genes for a happy marriage.
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