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Marital Satisfaction Is Linked to DNA, New Study Says

 8mIJeikeMkfND55vIVirEpTHqDtFKLqnXu8S3xRu0iNKAQAA6wAAAEpQ_260x196A new study conducted by researchers from University of California Berkeley and Northwestern University says that human’s emotions and marital satisfaction are somehow linked to genes.  A certain gene is involved in the regulation of serotonin and can predict how much our emotions influence our relationships.

 Researchers started to observe 156 middle-aged and older couples since 1989. Every five years, these couples have come to UC Berkeley to report their marital satisfaction and also interact with one another in lab setting while the researchers record their conversation and their body language, facial expression, tone of voice, etc.

Recently, 125 couples of the participants provided their DNA samples and researchers matched their levels of marital satisfaction and emotional tenor with their interactions at the lab setting with their genotypes.

What draws the researchers’ attention, specifically, is a gene known as 5-HTTLPR, an “allele” that is involved in the regulation of serotonin. Each one of the 5-HTTLPR alleles can be either short or long. The study reveals that participants with two short 5-HTTLPR show higher emotion sensitivity than other participants. Specifically speaking, they are prone to be most unhappy in the marriage if there was a lot of negative emotion, for example, contempt and anger, and most happy if there was positive emotion like affection and humor.


The link between genes, marital satisfaction and emotion was particularly pronounced for older couples. The researchers explained that because we are maximally susceptible to our genes’ influences—just as in early childhood. *Image source:  iStockphoto.

In the research, 17 percent of the participants have two short 5-HTTLPR alleles, and they show a strong correlation between their emotional tone of conversation and their marital satisfaction level; the rest 83 percent of couples with one or two long 5-HTTLPR alleles, by contrast, demonstrate little or even no relation between their emotional quality of discussions with how they felt about their marriage over the next decades.

It should be noted that couples with different variations of the alleles are not compatible, and also, neither one of the genetic variants is inherently good or bad. “Each one of them has its advantages and disadvantages.” Said the researcher. According to the findings, 5-HTTLPR affects individuals’ sensitivity in marriage—those with two short alleles of the gene variant might be like hothouse flowers, blossoming in a marriage when they are in good emotional climate and withering if it is bad. On the contrary, other individuals with one or two long alleles are much less sensitive to the emotional climate.

SourceUniversity of California, Berkeley
Title Image sourceShutterstock