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      Get Smart on the Web   09/16/2016

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Mloclam

Married, but in love with cousin...

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Thank you to everyone who has shared your wonderful stories. I know that not all of these work out, and mine is a long way from it, but having this type of community for support is life saving for me right now. Sincerely. Thank you.

I am 23m and my 2nd cousin is 23f. I have loved her deeply and sincerely our whole lives even though we live hundreds of miles apart and average about one visit per year (or fewer). As I'm reading more into other's experiences, I'm learning that my conditioned "ick" response is fairly standard. My family would probably have been pretty accepting, but I was afraid not only of their opinions, but primarily of my cousin's. I couldn't ask her to put herself in that position for me, and worse still, what if she does not reciprocate my feelings and we lose the connection we have? As much as I love her, I could not bear to lose her from my life. I tried very hard to move on and I want more than anything in the world for her to be happy, even if it means that I have to spend a lifetime apart from her. So, because I was too afraid to face my childish fears (after all I WAS a child) I tried to fill the space in my heart with a string of too-serious relationships in highschool culminating in my marriage to my highschool sweetheart.

I got married when I was 21 to a woman who is smart, dedicated, loving, beautiful, loyal and, above all, supportive. I love her and I feel honored that she would choose me to spend her life with. She is essentially the perfecf woman, but as time goes on and I continue to feel so painfully, hopelessly in love with my cousin, I feel it isn't fair to my wife to continue our marriage. That being said, we do not yet have children to complicate the issue but we have built a substantial life together in the time we've had.

Apparently I have a few desirable qualities, though I fail to see them in myself most days, and my wife is happy. She deserves to be happy. I cheated on her once before we were married but told her after a week of anxiety and a guilt trip from the other girl. I was truly repentant and when I saw how much pain I put her through, I changed and I swear I have and will be faithful ever since.

She forgave me after some time but, in retrospect, after feeling this love for my cousin, I realize that I have been in this relationship for the wrong reasons. I live in fear of hurting someone who is so good, not because I love her but because she deserves to have what she wants, which for some reason is me.

The conflicts are numerous but if it weren't for my cousin I could live contently, albeit with minimal passion. My concern is not for myself, at least not entirely. My heart aches and I can barely eat or sleep (which is how I found myself here at 1:30 am). I cry four or five times every day because I think about how happy she makes me and how slim the chances are of being with the person I can only assume God put on this planet to love and be loved by me. My concern is that if I feel as strongly as I do in my situation, if I hurt so deeply to be away from the woman I love, if I cry four times a day when I have a beautiful home, loving wife and many friends and family, how can I justify leaving her in that position if she feels the same way about me? Don't I have an obligation and a duty to be there for her if she hurts as bad as I do and I have the power to heal her?

It's not fair to any of us. Now that I know what I've lost and how I have to live my life because of the choices I've made, I am desperate to find a way to make all of this right. I believe the only way I will feel complete is to be with the other half of my soul. I can see it when I look in her eyes.

I feel like I missed the boat, but I'd probably sink it now as heavy as I am with regret...

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you need to share with your wife exactly what you've shared here. yes, you have an obligation to be honest. the choice of whether to stay married to you should be hers. it's not going to be easy.

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Thank you for taking the time to respond to my post. I know that you are right in saying that I need to be honest. I know that she has a right to decide if she will stay or go, but there are a few more important detail that I left out regarding my cousin's situation that may influence the sutuation pretty significantly.

I have not revealed my feelings to my cousin yet, although it's hard to imagine that she feels differently or fails to recognize my attachment. She has been in a relationship with another man for about three years, and although they are not married, they too have a substantial investment in their relationship.

When we were children, our other cousins would often exclude us from activities and games because we were the youngest. Because of this, we developed a closeness that none of our cousins shared. After a few years, it developed to the point that I, as a child with little understanding of world matters and societal opinion, asked her to be my wife. She said yes and for a long time we pretended we were. Time moved on, we, or possibly just I, began to feel awkward about the "game" even though I desperately wished it were real. She frequently brings it up in a tone that is either joking or as cleverly disguised as joking as my own tone on the subject. We joke about it a lot, but if she is like me, then we're not really joking...

In spite of both of our serious relationships, she is just as flirtatious now as she always has been, and generally instigates our encounters. Recently I have given up hope of falling out of love with her, but I am unwilling to sacrifice her happiness, no matter the cost.

It is out of love for my cousin and fear of disrupting her happiness that I have not disclosed my affection. I have been struggling with whether or not to bring up the issue at all to anyone. I suppose my real dilemma is whether I should risk her happiness to potentially fulfil both of our life purposes, or keep my licentious mouth shut and let everyone else continue to believe I am happy with the life I have, which I am not.

My wife will be hurt. I see that there is no way around that, whether I stay and become distant or leave and find true happiness (which still seems to be a total craps shoot).

I firmly believe that my cousin deserves to know that she is cared for as deeply as I care for her, but if I tell her and she does not reciprocate, should I still tell my wife? I also believe my wife deserves the opportunity to find someone who loves her like I love my cousin. I act like I love her that way, but every time we kiss, I close my eyes and see my cousin and feel her lips on mine and imagine brushing her hair from her neck.

If I tell my wife first, and then tell my cousin who doesn't return my feelings, is it worth hurting my wife? I care about both of these women more than I care about myself, although I feel real, deep, unprecedented emotion with my cousin and I feel little more than emptiness with my wife. It's as if my wife is my platonic cousin, and my cousin is meant to be my wife.

The question is not who deserves to know, the question is who should I talk to first to cause as little pain to anyone as possible. I am in pain and have lived through these scenarios in my mind already, but my perspective, as broad as I try to make it, is still only my perspective. I am not concerned for myself, and have accepted already that I may not get an opportunity in this lifetime, but I'm trying to make it work.

Thank you again for taking the time to read and share this burden with me. No matter the conclusion, I have felt love more deeply than I could ever have hoped and I know I am stronger for the experience. Being able to express myself in this safe place has been a tremendous blessing for me.

Sincerely, thank you.

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It looks like you are in a bad situation.

First, talk to your cousin.. then talk to your wife but don't mention that the other woman is your cousin, otherwise things will get ugly.

Maybe your wife loves you, and you obviously care for her. But, first figure out your relationship with your wife. I know when I see my cousin, my feelings get out of control, then I want to talk to him and start thinking about him. But, with time I learn to take control of my feelings. I believe that my cousin also goes through this cycle lol.

I never went on a date with my cousin (going on a date with him sounds so stupid lol), so I don't know what type of a person he is, how does he treats a woman (yes all these things matter), and I have no clue how he handles a relationship. We kissed, we hugged, and cuddled but everything was done secretly lol, so I believe that when ever we see each other he also get butterflies (it is purely my perspective, based on what he had told me). So, I can't judge him based on the kind of relationship we had. Even if I want to, we can not be together.

I have spent very little time with him, I know that he is a nice person but when he does stuff or say mean things in front of others that makes him look stupid, but when ever we were alone he never did anything or said anything to hurt me. Only you know, what your cousin feels for you, and also consider the fact that she might feel guilty for breaking up your marriage and if you love her you do not want her to feel guilty.

Honestly, if I were you I would first spend some time with my cousin to figure out if I truly want to be with him or not. Also, not having romantic feelings or feeling bored with your wife is a completely different story. Also, letting her go is not going to be that easy for you, but you are right she deserves to be with someone who loves her.

Only you can figure out what is right for you and her. But, before you jump to a conclusion analyze the consequences of your decision.

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why is it that you are trying to take a black and white issue and paint in shades of grey? you say you know you need to be honest, and you know that your wife should be the one to choose whether to stay or go. it really is that simple. none of the other 'details' are relevant.

and in my opinion, you do not have the right to say anything at all to your cousin. for one thing, she doesn't need you to tell her how deeply she's cared for. she's not blind, she's not stupid. she knows how deeply you care. you were right the first time when you said you've not told her already because you don't want to disrupt her life. that's the kind of sacrifice that is required of love... but you should also have more respect for your own marriage vows than to tell your cousin how you feel.

telling your wife that you are in love with someone else is the right thing to do. accepting the fallout is the right thing to do. in spite of the fact that your cousin is the woman of your affections, she has absolutely no place in this scenario. if your wife leaves you because you are in love with someone else, and then things don't work out with your cousin, well, that's just life. but to consider telling the cousin first so as not to hurt your wife if it doesn't work out is really the ultimate betrayal to your marriage. because this really isn't about the other woman, it's about your inability to be the husband your wife deserves. are you understanding that at all? to test the waters and see if your cousin might reciprocate your feelings or not is to make your wife the fall-back plan. how fair is that to her?

even your cousin deserves better than that. if the two of you were to ever get together, she needs to know you are a man with the integrity to end a relationship before pursuing another.

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I support LadyC's opinion.

My purpose of telling you to talk to your cousin was for you to figure out whether your cousin is the one for you or not. But, if you do not have feelings for your wife, then you should tell her first and let her decide. Also as I mentioned before, if you tell your cousin that you don't want to be in a relationship with your wife because of her, then she might blame herself or feel guilty for something she didn't do.

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You claim that your wife is loving and faithful and that you still love her.  If this is so, then you need to focus on your marriage and try to make it work.  Your happiness is not dependent upon others.  You can decide to be happy, if you so choose.

My advice is to speak to neither woman about the conflicts you feel.  As least not now.  Communication with your cousin needs to cease.  All communication.  Yes, it will be hard.  At first.  But doing so will help you refocus your priorities.  You have admitted to cheating on your wife while you two were dating; so this is a problem for you.  No judgments here, just observations.  And while you have been faithful to your wife for the past 2 years, you are walking fearfully close to being unfaithful to her again.  The fact that you would end things with your wife if your cousin reciprocated your feelings tells me that you would leave your wife if you could be sure you had a relationship to fall back on; this is not where you want to be!

You are consumed with a fantasy and the only way to move on with the commitment you've already made is to focus on your marriage.  If you go for a year without speaking or seeing your cousin and you woo your wife and show her love and still cannot stop thinking about your cousin, then perhaps it's time to move on.

Do not be fooled.  If you are unfaithful to your wife and end up in a relationship with your cousin, the odds are good that you will do the same to your cousin.  You assume, incorrectly I believe, that if you stay in your marriage it will be a passionless one.  Maybe it will, but maybe, just maybe, if you refocus your attentions on your wife, you may discover that the one you committed to is the one who is right for you.

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LadyC

Thank you again for the heartfelt advice. Having the opportunity and environment to express these thoughts and feelings has given me some much needed clarity and room inside my own head to think. You have only reinforced the conclusions I had already begun to draw for myself, but the taste in my mouth is no less bitter.

I see the path laid out before me and I see the obstacles blocking it. I will have to overcome my personal issues before I can be the man my cousin deserves. I have to be honest with my wife so that she can live the life and find the love that she deserves. I plan to continue the relationship I have with my cousin without imposing any undue burdens on her, and I will make choices that she would be proud of so that if we are meant to be together, there will be nothing to keep us apart.

My family and my wife have a strong relationship as well and I do not want to alienate them or her. As I mentioned, I do have real love for my wife, but it is becoming increasingly platonic. I realize these are details, and the question now is not what to do, but how to do it in such a way so as to cause as little pain as possible to anyone I can.

I have been unhappy for most of my life and the little joy I am able to achieve is by bringing joy to others. That is how I wound up married to my wife; I didn't have the strength to break her heart, but chose instead to break my own. That did bring me comfort for some time, but in retrospect I see that I was not honest with myself, so I couldn't be honest with her. Obviously a relationship built around dishonesty, intentional or not, is destined to crumble. She loves me and my family very much, and what can I say, we're a pretty likable bunch most of the time. I think she is a wonderful human being and I still consider her a part of my family, no matter what happens. My goal is to keep the relationship between my wife and family amiable.

The analogy that comes to mind for me now is of a broken leg. My relationship status right now is the leg. If I don't fix it, I will never walk again. If I set the bone and just let it heal, I may never run again. My goal, and I recognize that it will be an uphill battle, is to set the bone and wrap a cast around it so that it is as close to healed as possible with as little pain as possible. Any insight into how I could approach my wife and family about this issue to preserve some semblance of civility would be much appreciated.

I realize this may reach beyond the scope of advice that is generally given on this site, but you have been an effective sounding board for helping me understanding my own situation. I see that this has regressed from advice about the situation between me and my cousin to advice on how to resolve a deeper personal issue, and I appreciate you sticking with me this far. This is the first life I've lived and I've certainly never been in a situation like this before.

Again, thank you for taking the time to consider this with me. If anyone has personal experience with this type of situation, I'd love to hear what your solution was and how it turned out for you.

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Kitten,

Thank you for your response. You brought up an excellent point. I honestly don't know my cousin as well as I would like. I only see her once a year or so, but it is usually for a week or two at a time. I have been around her in public and private enough to love the person I know but our interactions are generally around our family, and who really behaves around their family the way they do around their friends? It does make me question who she really is because I am beginning to know myself better and I'm net even the person I thought I was. I'm trying hard now to be that person.

I feel so strongly when I see her that it is hard to keep a clear head. So I am glad now to have an opportunity to hash out this situation.

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Serendipity,

Thank you for taking the time to respond and provide your valuable insight. There are a few points I agree with you on and a few points that I feel need to be corrected.

I have been faithful to my wife for six years. I cheated on her when I was 16 after we had been dating for six months.

I do not fantasize about other women except for my cousin. I haven't talked to my cousin in more than a year (not since my wedding in July 2014) in an effort to quell these feelings.

I am not close, fearfully or otherwise, to being unfaithful to my wife although after having been able to express my thoughts about my situation on this forum, I believe it may be time to come to grips with the reality of my feelings and separate from her, at least romantically.

I agree I may be romanticizing my cousin in my mind partially because of the state of my marriage, but I also believe that we are perfect for each other even though I truly wish I could preserve my current relationships. It would be considerably less emotionally taxing if I could simply choose to be happy. I thought that's what I was doing when I married my wife, but it didn't work out that way.

I sincerely thought that my feelings towards my cousin could be attributed to infatuation or a simple crush. Here I am, twenty years later, even deeper than ever. I love her so much that I'm willing to let her be happy in her own life without involving myself, but I can't continue to string my wife along after seven years (which is how long we've been together total, five years of which we've spent living together).

Thank you for your input, I believe you did outline the correct course of action, but I also believe that I have already pursued that path without success. I do still love my wife, but in the way that I wish I lived my cousin. I imagine her with other men and I'm happy that she has found someone. When we are out and we meet someone that I think would be a good fit for her and I imagine him at my family reunions with her, sitting across the table from me. He's making her laugh and I don't get jealous like I thought I might. Instead I feel warm inside because she is happy. I think about staying with her and I feel sad for her being stuck with me.

I will take your advice and wait. I will not contact my cousin (since that is how our relationship has been up until this point) and see if anything changes since I have now for the first time in my life, written down my honest feelings. I will keep my feelings to myself for the time being (I want everyone to have a few more good Christmas memories at least) and see if I feel differently in the new year.

Patience is the name of the game. I will have to be patient with myself in understanding my emotions. I will have to be patient with my cousin while she determines what it really is that she wants from her life and from me. I will have to be patient while my wife processes her emotions when it comes time to tell her what I have told you. I will have to be patient while my family comes to terms with my situation, if they can at all. I feel like I have wasted so much time already and that my window is quickly closing if this situation is to reach any kind of resolution, but I know that I will need patience.

Thank you again for taking the time to respond. I will continue to seek your help and advice as I am making this transition if you will continue to offer it.

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Mloclam

I'm going to call you on your BS.  You MUST take care of your marriage.  Either decide you are going to become the husband your wife deserves or get out.  You weren't forced to marry her. You claim you married her so as to not hurt her feelings and then you say you were choosing to be happy by marrying your wife.  Which one is it? 

You have taken half of my initial advice:  you haven't spoken to your cousin in over a year.  But you have not done the other half:  wooing your wife.  And you have given no indication that you are interested in doing so; You would rather marinate in your own self-pity.  If you haven't spoken to your cousin in over a year then you have no idea what will make her happy.  You presume you do: you.  But how can you possibly know?  You don't even know if your cousin has romantic feelings for you; yet you are willing to sacrifice your marriage for a fantasy.  And did you not say that she is involved with someone else, a 3 year relationship for her?

Yes, I realize that your fantasy involves only your cousin.  The fact that you want to justify if by telling me that it's only your cousin you fantasize about tells me that you are only interested in making excuses.

You are great at playing the martyr: 

You will sacrifice your own happiness for the sake of these women. You suppose you have some admirable qualities.  You'll let her be happy and sacrifice yourself.  Patience is the name of the game. 

Just get out of the marriage.  You've already been dishonest with her and you clearly have no interest in trying to make it better.  If you just can't bring yourself to be a husband to her, then just move on.  You have created a whole relationship with your cousin in your head.  This is ridiculous.  You are obviously smart and well-spoken judging by the quality of your writing.  But the

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i would suggest that if you took the time to woo your wife, you might find the passion you claim is missing from your marriage. because i suspect that it's lacking because your head is somewhere else, not because your wife doesn't have any passion to give. just a thought.

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