The Science of a Happy Marriage? I was skeptical too…
Yesterday in the Times Tara Parker-Pope shared her insight on the factors which may affect a person’s tendency to stay committed. Scientists are studying the biological, psychological, and everything in between. Interestingly enough, their findings suggest that while some people may be more naturally inclined to resisting temptation, people can also train themselves to protect their relationships, and strengthen their commitment.
Could there really be such a thing as a fidelity gene? According to Hasse Walum, a biologist at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, it’s a misnomer that a variation in the gene can predict the future behavior in men. Although, that said, men who carried a variation in the gene were less likely to be married, and those who had wed were more likely to have had serious marital problems and unhappy wives.
Back to the more comforting thought of being able to train ourselves to resist infidelity…
Studies led by John Lydon, a psychologist at McGill University in Montreal, have looked at how people react when faced with temptation. When faced with a situation that might threaten their relationship, participants from highly committed relationships, seemed to instinctively tell themselves that they were less attracted to the threatening factor.
Scientist also speculate that it may not be feelings of love or loyalty that keep couples together. In fact, it may be the degree to which a partner enhances your life and broadens your horizons that keeps you coming back for more. Arthur Aron, a psychologist and relationship researcher, calls this “self–expansion.” Researchers theorize that couples who explore new places and try new things will tap into feelings of self-expansion, lifting their level of commitment.
Dr. Aron puts it quite nicely when he says, “We enter relationships because the other person becomes part of ourselves, and that expands us.”