The Secret to Marital Bliss May Be Totally Out of Your Control

Researchers at Berkley think they may have found the secret as to why some marriages experience more ups and downs than others. It seems that your penchant for marital bliss may be in your genes.

More specifically, your inclination to have your marital satisfaction be affected by emotions in the relationship may be genetic.


Ok, here’s the science-y part: They found a serotonin-regulating gene (5-HTTLPR), and then studied the variation of that gene from person to person in relationship to their happiness with their partners and marriages. You get two of these genes -- one from your mom and one from your dad.

“Participants with two short 5-HTTLPR were most unhappy in their marriages in the face of negative emotion, like contempt, but also happiest when positive emotions like humor were present. On the other end of the spectrum, participants with two long copies were satisfied with their marriages regardless of the emotional atmosphere.”

Now here’s my opinion: I call bullcrap.

How can the emotional atmosphere between you and your partner not affect your marriage? Are the people with the long genes dead inside? How can you be happy in a miserable marriage? Are these people lacking that “sensitivity chip” that Jennifer Aniston was talking about?

If I had to guess, I’d be willing to say that I likely have two very short genes, since I can’t even fathom the concept of being content in marriage in a miserable emotional environment. I’d also be willing to bet that my soon-to-be-ex-husband has two very long ones. And that’s all I have to say about that.

When it comes down to it, I believe that the marriages that last are the ones where there is mutual respect and honest admiration for your partner -- regardless of what your genes look like.

What do you think is the key to a happy marriage?


Image via Tammy Hanratty/Corbis


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