People who are emotionally stable, empathetic and sociable have the happiest marriages, research finds.
Low levels of anxious attachment are also important to relationship satisfaction.
In contrast, people high in anxious attachment are ‘needy’ and worry that their partners do not care for them.
High levels of attachment anxiety are also linked to a fear of abandonment.
So, low levels of anxious attachment are preferable in a partner.
All these personality traits are linked to a genetic variation that can be detected from a saliva sample, new research has found.
The genetic variation affects a neurotransmitter called oxytocin.
Oxytocin — sometimes known as the ‘love hormone’ — is important in social bonding.
Researchers found that when one partner in a marriage had this genetic variation linked to oxytocin, both reported greater marital satisfaction and feelings of security.
The conclusions come from a study of 178 married couples aged 37 to 90.
All were asked about their marital satisfaction and had their genotype analysed from a saliva sample.
The results revealed that those with a genetic variation known as the ‘GG genotype’ had higher marital satisfaction.
Dr Joan Monin, the study’s first author, said:
“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.
In marriage, people are also influenced by their own and their partner’s genetic predispositions.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE (Monin et al., 2019).