marriage minutes
Marriage Minutes: Love Is In Our Bones; Married Couples Carry Similar DNA
Researchers at UCLA and the University of Colorado Boulder have made new discoveries connecting marriage and the body.

The following is a round-up of news items compiled by the Hitched editors during the week of August 07, 2014.

You Can Feel the Love In Your Bones
It seems if your relationship breaks apart, it's more likely your skeletal structure will too. In January, University of California Los Angeles researchers published a study in the peer-reviewed journal Osteoporosis International, and found that men who married after the age of 25 had higher bone density than men of other groups. It's even more specific than that. Men who married after the age of 25 who were in long-term and stable marriages (or marriage-like relationships) had greater bone density than married who had previously been divorced or separated, men who were not in a relationship and men who had never been married.

You might be wondering, why doesn't this apply to men under the age of 25? Co-author Dr. Arun Karlamangla, a professor of medicine in the geriatrics division at the Geffen School, says, "Very early marriage was detrimental in men, likely because of the stresses of having to provide for a family."

So what about women? The researchers didn't find any significant different in their bone density based on relationship status, with one exception. Women who had supportive partners had greater bone strength than those whose "partners didn't appreciate them, understand how they felt or were emotionally unsupportive in other ways."

According to the study's senior author, Dr. Carolyn Crandall, a professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, this is the first time that marital histories and marital quality have been linked to bone health.

The researchers concede they don't know why bone health and marriage is connected, but say this will be the next phase of their study. What they have learned, though, is that the benefits of marriage differ between men and women. Being in one long-term stable marriage is good for men's bones, whereas it's the quality of that relationship that benefits women.

Similar DNA Attracts
If you were to examine the DNA of you and your spouse and compare it to that of two strangers, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that your DNA is likely to be more similar. This study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in May, and is the first time a study has looked at similarities across the entire genome.

For this study, the researchers examined 825 non-Hispanic white American couples and found that we don't seem to choose our spouses as randomly as we might think. The researchers note that other studies show how couples tend to partner with others of similar religion, age, race, income, body type, education and so on, but this is the first extensive look at DNA.

A well-studied group is that of couples who have similar education, also known as educational assortative mating. The researchers compared the magnitude of the genetic similarity and found that the preference for a genetically similar spouse is about a third of the strength of educational assortative mating. This means that while researchers have had many other predictive markers for coupling, they can now add the tool of looking at two DNA samples to strengthen their predictions.

The lead author, Benjamin Domingue, a research associate at CU-Boulder’s Institute of Behavioral Science, and his colleagues, believe this research could help other researchers understand genetic differences between human populations and statistical models because such models often assume random mating. They note future research could further delve into married couples of different races, friends and other relationships.

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