DNA may decide how much satisfaction newlyweds have after marriage

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The key to a happy marriage may come down to what’s in your DNA, a new study says. Researchers at the University of Arkansas report a specific gene variation may play a big role in whether or not newlyweds feel satisfied during the first years of their marriage. They say this gene impacts traits related to both bonding and gratitude.

Recent studies have discovered evidence suggesting a variation of the CD38 gene (or “CC”) has a connection to higher levels of gratitude. Psychologist Anastasia Makhanova analyzed a dataset of genotyped newlyweds and look to see if there is any connection between the CD38 CC variation and trust, forgiveness, and satisfaction levels among newly married couples.

Sure enough, individuals who showed the CC gene variation reported more trust and satisfaction in their relationships.

“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,” Professor Makhanova says in a university release.

Some genes lead to more trust and gratitude in marriage

Researchers analyzed a total of 142 newlyweds, or 71 couples, during this study. Each couple’s DNA was collected three months after getting married and the pairs filled out multiple relationship satisfaction surveys every four months for three years. Study authors then compared the results to the CD38 variations, lending credence to the notion that the CC gene variation has a link to a happier marriage.

“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,” researchers write.

Does this mean other marriages likely end in divorce? Of course not. Study authors make a point to stress that a happy marriage is quite attainable regardless of one’s genetics.

“So it’s not that people who don’t have the CC genotype are doomed to have problems,” Makhanova concludes. “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 study is published in Nature Scientific Reports.