The DNA ties that bind: Marriage satisfaction may lie in your genes, a new study suggests.
Researchers from the University of Arkansas looked at 71 newly married couples, asking them to complete a survey three months after marriage and again every four months for four years. They also tested their DNA.
Recent research indicates that a variation called "CC" in the gene CD38 is associated with increased levels of gratitude, so researchers used the data to explore whether a correlation existed between the CD38 CC variation and levels of trust, forgiveness, and marriage satisfaction.
"We were interested in seeing if some of the reasons that people might have a harder time maintaining relationship satisfaction in the newlywed period is due to some potential underlying genetic predispositions," said study first author Anastasia Makhanova, an assistant professor of psychology.
The investigators found that participants with the specific CC variation reported higher levels of traits corresponding to marriage satisfaction than others.
"CC individuals felt more grateful for their partner, reported higher trust in their partner, were more forgiving of their partner, and were more satisfied with their marriages," Makhanova and her colleagues wrote.
The researchers only found an association, so this finding isn't a reason to give up on a marriage. They noted that folks without the CD38 CC variation can still have successful relationships.
"So, it's not that people who don't have the CC genotype are doomed to have problems," Makhanova said in a university news release. "It's just that they're more likely to have issues in some of these domains, and so those people might have to work a little bit more in those domains."
The findings were published Feb. 18 in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.