Dear Annie: Since my husband discovered that his parents are first cousins, he’s been having an emotional crisis that I can’t help him with. I was the one who uncovered the secret when I was doing research for a genealogy study to be presented as a gift for my father-in-law’s 70th birthday.
I have given my in-laws many opportunities to absolve themselves of their deception, but I must have been far too subtle to make myself clear about the situation. I don’t expect an answer from you or your staff members, because I’ve tried to contact numerous others concerning this subject, and it appears to be taboo for even the most open-minded of venues.
-- Need Help in California
Dear Need Help: Really? We cannot imagine why. Your in-laws may have done nothing that requires “absolving.” Marriage between first cousins is legal in 20 states and is permitted in six others depending on the circumstances. In Biblical times, marriage between first cousins was commonplace.
Instead of sweeping this under the rug and watching your husband freak out, please talk to your in-laws directly. Say you found this information while researching the family tree. Let them discuss it frankly so their son can learn to accept what’s already happened and put it behind him. There’s no reason for this to become a major crisis. If you are planning to have children (or already do), you might consider genetic counseling now that you have a more complete family history.
Dear Annie: The letter from “Tired Daughter” really hit home. My mother was an alcoholic and also blamed my father for her sad life. He finally left, and we kids took the brunt of her sorry existence. Finally, as an adult, I gently cut ties with her. When she developed dementia (partially due to her alcoholism), she ended up in a care facility. My brother and I shared the job of handling her affairs.
So many times, people said, “But she’s your mother,” as if I had to love her because we were related. We are not forced to love an abuser, no matter who they are. “Tired Daughter” should get on with her life and her family and lose the guilt, with the help of a professional if needed.
-- Been There in Montreal
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