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      Get Smart on the Web   09/16/2016

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I have fallen in love with my second cousin. We are both in our 40s. The strangest part to me is once we marry I will just resume my maiden name. My question is do we combine  our lives and get married before we tell our family. We currently live about an hour apart and only see each other once or twice a week. I do have two children who are 13 and 11 so we have been keeping all this in the down low. I just know how judgmental people can be. I think if we just marry that will show everyone how serious we are.

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i think if you marry without telling the people closest to you, they are going to feel incredibly betrayed. especially the children... and if you could look into that crystal ball, you'd see a glimpse of the future where your children will be in the midst of teen anxt and rebellion and will use any slight betrayal they perceive from you as an excuse to justify their behavior. they'll use it as a weapon to hurt you. 

you're second cousins. there is nothing legally, morally or biologically that stands in your way of marrying. don't let your own fears be your downfall. trust your children enough to handle this information and make them a part of it. if they don't take it well, then it's your job as a parent to not only understand all the million complicated reasons that they might object (most of which may have absolutely nothing to do with you being distantly related), it's also your job to help them navigate all those complicated and confusing feelings and to accept that you are more than just a mom... that you're also a woman who lives and loves and laughs and cries and all the other things that make us human.

but if you get married without telling your children first, it will be one of the biggest mistakes of your life.

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I have to agree with Lady C.  The children must know.

I started a serious relationship with my 1st cousin 2 years ago; we are both mid-40's.  My children were 16 and 18 at the time.  There was a little bit of a push-back from my oldest child but things have since settled down.  And although your children are younger than mine were, I can almost guarantee that if you marry without telling them, things will become very strained between you and your children - most likely your 13 year old.  Honesty is the best policy here.  I would approach the conversation in a relaxed manner: Wanna know something cool about me and Joe? (insert his name)  We are 2nd cousins! 

If, or more likely, when, they ask questions about your cousin status, just tell them that a lot of people think it's weird in the U.S., but there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.  If you are matter-of-fact about it, they will take it in stride.

As to your last statement

I think if we just marry that will show everyone how serious we are.

It usually doesn't work like that.  The people you love want to know you are serious about a relationship before you get married- not after.  Imagine if one of your children came home one day, 10 years down the road, and told you that he/she got married before letting you know s/he was serious about a relationship because s/he wanted to get married to show you how serious s/he was about the relationship.  It is not logical.

Does your family know that you are dating your 2nd cousin?  If not, go ahead and tell them too.  But don't kow-tow to any objections they may have.  You have found someone to love who happens to be your cousin.  You have nothing to apologize for or be ashamed of.

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