Study: Genes Could Determine Marital Happiness

C. Price

Written by: C. Price

C. Price

C. Price is part of's content team. She writes advice articles, how-to guides, and studies — all relating to dating, relationships, love, sex, and more.

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

Discuss This! Discuss This!
Advertiser Disclosure

Can a person’s DNA play a major role in determining how happy he or she will be when married?

New research examined a link between a gene variant and emotional well-being in relationship. Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley and Northwestern University conducted the study.

They found the physical length of the gene, known as 5-HTTLPR, predicts how a spouse will respond to the emotional peaks and valleys of married life.

Those who were determined to have two short 5-HTTLPR genes were found to be the more reactive spouse, responding with greater negative emotion in times of turmoil.

Participants with two longer genes did not display the same alternating levels of emotion, both in good times and bad.

“The gene predicts how a spouse

will respond to married life.”

The 5-HTTLPR gene is associated with regulating serotonin levels in the body. We inherit the gene, and its length, from our parents.

The gene difference was also found to affect how much a spouse tolerates conflicts in the marriage, according to the study.

“An enduring mystery is, what makes one spouse so attuned to the emotional climate in a marriage and another so oblivious?” said Berkeley psychologist Robert W. Levenson. “With these new genetic findings, we now understand much more about what determines just how important emotions are for different people.”

The genotypes of more than 100 married participants were examined for the study, compared against observed interactions with their spouse.

“We are always trying to understand the recipe for a good relationship, and emotion keeps coming up as an important ingredient,” Levenson said.

Study researcher Claudia M. Haase added neither of the length variants could be seen as inherently good or bad.

“Each has its advantages and disadvantages,” she said.


Advertiser Disclosure is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation from many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across the site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.

Our Editorial Review Policy

Our site is committed to publishing independent, accurate content guided by strict editorial guidelines. Before articles and reviews are published on our site, they undergo a thorough review process performed by a team of independent editors and subject-matter experts to ensure the content’s accuracy, timeliness, and impartiality. Our editorial team is separate and independent of our site’s advertisers, and the opinions they express on our site are their own. To read more about our team members and their editorial backgrounds, please visit our site’s About page.