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Is There a Divorce Gene?

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If your relationships are a mess, your DNA might be to blame. Scientists say they’ve identified a female “divorce gene” that could predict ill-fated marriages and identify women with inherent commitment issues.

Swedish researchers believe this gene affects how women process oxytocin, a hormone that promotes feelings of love and maternal affection. Women who don’t process oxytocin properly may not be able to bond normally with partners, friends and children.

In a study with more than 1,800 couples who’d been together at least five years, the DNA of the women showed that those with a variation of the oxytocin receptor gene, or the A-allele, were 50 percent more likely to report “marital crisis or threat of divorce,” and the men married to these women were also much more dissatisfied in their relationships.

Lead researcher Hasse Walum of Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute told the U.K.’s Daily Mail, “We’ve found evidence that oxytocin can be involved in the regulation of human pair-bonding by showing that variation in the oxytocin receptor gene is linked to how strongly women bond to a partner.”

But women aren’t always to blame. In a study four years ago, the same research team found the male version of a “divorce gene,” which affects how the brain uses the chemical vasopressin. This in turn affects men’s ability to commit and remain faithful.

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