Are some people born cheaters, while others are born faithful?
According to a growing body of research, there may be science behind commitment. Researchers are examining biological factors and psychological responses in an attempt to see how either might influence marital stability. Their findings may suggest that some people are more likely to succumb to temptation, but they can train themselves to remain faithful and monogamous.
A Swedish biologist at the Karolinska Institute studied sets of male twins and the bonding hormone vasopressin in the pairs. Biologist Hasse Walum found that the twins who carried a variation of gene coding for vasopressin were less likely to be married or more likely to have marital discord. Marital problems were even worse among those who carried two copies of the gene variant coding for vasopressin.
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Meanwhile, psychologists at McGill University in Montreal studied how individuals in committed relationships respond to temptation. Study authors planted attractive men and women to flirt with study participants in a waiting room. The participants were later asked about their marriage or relationship and how they would react to their partner being late or forgetting to check in.
Men who were flirting with the actors reported that they would be less forgiving of the behavior, while women who were flirting said they were more likely to be forgiving. Study authors suggest that in the case of men, the flirting impacted their sense of commitment. For the women, they say the flirting made them want to protect their relationship.
Dr. Kathryn Smerling, a marriage and family therapist, tells Newsmax that this research isn’t necessarily surprising, as most couples have at least 10 challenges that they’re dealing with at a time, from money to time management. “So it’s to be expected that you’re going to encounter all sorts of issues when you’re married, but it’s how you face those issues together that determines whether or not your relationship will flourish,” Smerling says.
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So while some may be “coded” to cheat, is there a way to curb that predilection? Smerling says the answer is yes.
“A growing body of science suggests that we’re likely to be born non-monogamous, but we choose to be monogamous because of children, property, societal values, etc.,” she says.
Smerling adds the foundation of an emotionally healthy marriage is being attuned to your partner, resilient in the face of adversity, and constantly curious about each other. “Emotionally attuned spouses listen with greater consideration, are extremely mindful, emotionally engaged, and regularly practice caring acceptance,” she tells Newsmax.
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The happiest couples, says Smerling, remember the little things that make a relationship work — holding hands with enthusiasm, practicing a three-second delay when having an argument, and not overthinking things.
She says it’s also beneficial for couples to “change it up” and never allow themselves to get bored in the relationship. She stresses the importance of avoiding the blame game and overlooking tiny shortcomings while reminding yourself that you’re on the same team.
Smerling says that these practices lead to emotionally healthy marriages and can safeguard against divorce and infidelity.
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