Happy in Your Marriage? Thank Grandma!

couple with grandmotherIn a committed relationship? Love your partner and feel lucky to be with him? Well, then, you can thank Grandma -- yours and your kids' and every OTHER grandma since humans evolved.

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The reason is something called "The Grandma Hypothesis" -- which sounds like an hour-long CBS drama about an elderly woman who solves mysteries in her sewing room/crime lab ... But it's not!

University of Utah anthropologists have found that "grandmothering" is responsible for humans forming tight bonds with one another.

You might think that means your mother-in-law watching your kids so you and your husband can finally have some alone time in a hotel room. But the idea started back in the '80s, when scientists observed Tanzania's Hazda people, who are hunters and gatherers just like our ancestors. Of utmost importance were the elderly women, who dug potatoes and such to feed very young kids who weren't able to do it themselves.

Um, why?

Well, not every animal lives past its child-bearing years. But we women survive DECADES longer. Scientists think that began about two million years ago -- and thanks to older women doing just what the Hazda ladies still do.

The big picture looks like this: When grandmas help care for younger kids, then the mom is free to ... have more babies. And because of that over time, elderly women's longevity genes became extended.

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Chimps usually only live to about 30 to 40 years of age. But when anthropologists tested out the grandmothering hypothesis in a computer simulation, they were able to extend the chimps' lifespans by about 40 years -- same as ours.

But there's more. Grandmothering also caused more older men to hang around, who then felt compelled to guard and protect their female mate from the competition. Not super-romantic and we're sure no $60,000 wedding was involved. But hey, because of those early "pair bonds," we're all about romance and love today.

So what can you do with this little bit of anthropological insight? Amuse your friends. Break the ice at your next book club. And make your grandma feel a hint more special. (Before you drop the kids off at her house and go out to dinner with your husband.)

 

Image © AlbanyPictures/iStock

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