Does your DNA dictate whether you will have a happy marriage?

Rob Waugh
·Contributor
·3 min read
Happy wedding photography of bride and groom at wedding ceremony. Wedding tradition sprinkled with rice and grain
Could DNA dictate whether your marriage is happy? (Getty)

Most of us imagine that a happy marriage is largely down to choosing the right person and putting in a bit of effort.

But could your DNA also help to dictate whether your marriage works out?

A new study from the University of Arkansas suggests that one specific gene could be related to traits that are beneficial to bonding and relationship satisfaction in marriage.

Anastasia Makhanova of the University of Arkansas said: “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.”

Recent research indicates that a variation called “CC” in the gene CD38 is associated with increased levels of gratitude.

The researchers found that people with the variation reported higher levels of traits corresponding to marriage satisfaction.

The research was published in Nature Scientific Reports.

Watch: Denise Van Outen and Eddie Boxshall meet psychosexual therapist, Cate Mackenzie, in their new podcast, Before We Say I Do...

Read more: Lockdown and screen overload: how to escape your screens

The researchers used data from a study of genotyped newlyweds to explore whether a correlation existed between the CD38 CC variation and marriage satisfaction.

The researchers studied 142 newlyweds, whose DNA was collected three months after being married.

The volunteers also completed a survey at that point as well as one every four months for three years.

“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 than were AC/AA individuals,” the researchers wrote.

Makhanova said: “So it's not that people who don't have the CC genotype are doomed to have problems.

“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.”

Read more: Couple celebrate 80th wedding anniversary

Previous research has suggested that being emotionally flexible is key to long-lasting, stable relationships.

The term refers to being broad-minded, open to new experiences and able to maintain a broader perspective even in difficult times.

Researchers at the University of Rochester analysed 174 separate studies looking at how flexibility related to family and romantic relationships.

In total the research analysed 43,952 people, according to ScienceAlert.

Ronald Rogge, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, said: "Put simply, this meta-analysis underscores that being mindful and emotionally flexible in tough and challenging situations not only improves the lives of individuals, it might also strengthen and enrich their close relationships."

Read more: Drug derived from ketamine ‘can treat depression in hours’

The researchers found that emotional flexiblity led to lower perceived parenting stress and lower levels of child distress.

They also led to fewer incidents of harsh and negative parenting strategies.

Within romantic relationships, inflexibility led to lower sexual satsifaction, lower relationship satisfaction and greater conflict, the researchers warned.

Rogge said the results build on his previous research, showing that partners who watch films together then discuss them afterwards have closer relationships – and a lower chance of divorce.

Watch: Bride stirs controversy with ‘horrendously offensive’ wedding invite