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Woolley & Co latest 

Divorce gene linked to relationship troubles

A "divorce gene" linked to an increased risk of relationship breakdown has been discovered by scientists.

Researchers say it plays a role in determining how the brain responds to a chemical that is central to the bonding process between a man and a woman.

Men with a variant of the gene tended to score badly on a questionnaire designed to assess how well they bond with their partner and were more likely to report having suffered marital difficulties.

The discovery raises the possibility that scientists could one day develop drugs to target the gene in an attempt to prevent marriages from falling apart.

Hasse Walum and colleagues at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, used Sweden's Twin and Offspring Study, which includes data on more than 550 twins and their partners or spouses.

They looked at a protein in the body which responds to a chemical called vasopressin, which is central to human bonding. The researchers then compared the genes in that area to men's scores on the Partner Bonding Scale, which is designed to estimate the strength of a person's attachment to his or her spouse or partner. They found that men with one version of the gene - called the "334" version, or allele - had low scores and were less likely to be married.

Although interesting Andrew Woolley of Woolley & Co doesn't think this is the only answer: "Based on my experience over many years as a solicitor I've seen cases where circumstances, personality, behaviour and a wide variety of other factors including things like financial pressures and the arrival of a child can all place untold pressure on a relationship.

"The important thing is to recognise when things are going wrong and try to sort them out. In my experience men tend to be less willing to admit when things are going wrong, are less likely to talk openly about their feelings and reluctant to seek the help of counsellors and therapists who can support a couple through such changes.

At Woolley & Co we work closely with counsellors, therapists, coaches and others who can help couples and individuals going through relationship difficulties.

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