Can This Hormone Predict Marriage Success?
It’s often referred to as “the love hormone.” Really.
More formally, oxytocin is a potent, naturally occurring chemical believed to have a wide variety of physical and psychological effects. Now it may have a new function – as a marriage forecaster. That’s because a study presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual meeting in San Diego links a woman’s oxytocin levels to the chances she’ll get divorced shortly after giving birth.
But before you dismiss the idea, look at the findings.
The research team collected saliva samples from 341 pregnant women during their first trimester of pregnancy, as well as their third trimester and again seven to nine weeks after they gave birth.
Two and a half years later, researchers followed up with 188 of the mothers to see how their marriages were doing. Approximately 90 percent of the women were still married to their original partners, while seven women had gotten separated.
The results: when women had lower oxytocin levels during their first trimester and weeks after giving birth, they were more likely to get divorced within the first few years of their child’s life. On the other hand, for every unit increase in oxytocin during the first trimester, the odds of their marriage surviving increased by roughly seven times. What’s more, each unit increase of oxytocin after they gave birth increased those odds by nearly nine times.
Oxytocin plays a vital part in maternal bonding, lactation, social bonding, sexual pleasure, and potentially marital bonds. Researchers believe oxytocin is released into the mother’s blood after she gives birth and during breastfeeding in order to bond the mother to their newborn.