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How to Deal with the Shame

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Hello all.

I am having difficulty dealing with shame about my relationship with my cousin and I was wondering how some of you dealt with it? I know I don't need to feel this way and that it's probably due to the stigma that I feel is attached to our relationship, but I can't get away from feeling embarrassed or ashamed.

To help clue you all in to what is going on, let me give you some background information:

My fiance & I met when we were around 13 years due to some discord my father had with that side of the family. Immediately, we felt a connection that we just couldn't ignore. We then started a secret physical relationship which always had some definite emotional ties. My family eventually relocated to his town of residence when we were around 15 years old. We told each other that after high school we would be able to be together and that we would pursue "normal" relationships until then. I dated someone else for 8 months, but the entire time I was still very invested in my cousin. I broke it off with the other guy because I didn't think it was fair to him and I was ready to start a full-fledged relationship with my cousin and tell our parents.

My parents were very accepting of it, but his parents had a very difficult time with it. His mother even went as far as allowing other girls to spend the night at their house and pushing him to pursue relationships with these girls. My sister initially had a very bad reaction to it, telling me I would have children with webbed toes. In school, we never let on that we were in a relationship, but we went to prom together. People slowly started finding out and I felt so ashamed that I told them we were not related in any way. After high school, things started getting easier for us. We had a group of friends that we were very close to and that knew very well about our relationship and how we were related and treated us like they would any other couple. At the age of 20, I became pregnant with our son. At first, we were very nervous about whether there would be something wrong with the baby. We were very happy when we saw a genetic counselor and he told us that there was nothing to worry about and that we no longer needed to see him.

I gave birth to our son in the summer of 2012. He was perfect in every way and I almost felt he was the "I told you so" to all the people that judged our relationship and our ability to produce healthy children. Both my family and his family were very supportive at this time - that is, except for his father. He still hasn't met his grandson because he disapproves of our relationship. It is especially sad since he lives 5 minutes from our house. So here we are. We are getting married in a few weeks and our son will be 2 this summer. Even coming this far, I still feel uncomfortable and ashamed when people bring up how we're related. Any suggestions on how to cope with this?

Thanks for listening to my story. =)

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  • Moderator


Yeah, turn that shame into pride.

Every time you look into the eyes of your son, remember, he is living proof of the fact that all the old misconceptions are just that. You have proven the nay-sayers wrong, and if they have a problem with it, it is just that, THEIR PROBLEM.

Exactly who's loss is it that the Old Man hasn't seen his grandchild? Your son's? I hardly think so. If the old goat wants to continue to be obstinate in the face of reality, he's not going to be the role model my Grandpa was, that's for sure. You have faced the odds many here have faced, are facing, or may yet face, and won. Do not continue to let this chip away at you. You love this man, and if he has withstood the meddling and disapproval you describe, he certainly loves you. Continue to keep your friends close. It sounds like they have been the support system you have needed to get to this point. It may not hurt to thank them for being so understanding. To get away from these feelings, you must consciously decide to do so. You have to make up your mind that you have lived that way long enough, and that you are no longer willing to do so. You don't have to hold your peace out of embarrassment, but, really, how many people's business is it that you are cousins, that don't already know? Other than if you were to change pediatricians, or OBs if you should happen to become pregnant again, I can't think of anyone that is really on a "need to know" basis.

You don't need to blush as a bride over any embarrassment, only the normal outpouring of attention and doting that causes a bride to blush. Remember as you walk down that isle and stand with that man who you have loved these several years, that to get to that point has been a MAJOR accomplishment. An accomplishment to take pride in, not be embarrassed about. How many people do you know who could have made it to where you are? We have young members and lurkers here all the time who are in the situation you two were in when you were younger. I ALWAYS tell them to cool the jets, focus on their schooling, keep it on the down low, stay close, build the friendship, THEN, when they are about your age, go for it and don't let anyone stop you. Some of those things you did right, but, you two were a little more physical a little younger than I would have liked. And, not quite so much on the down low. However, you didn't become parents until you were older, (among my main concerns) and have made the decision to spend your lives together. And why wouldn't you? You've already faced way more drama than most are able to handle. It's the next step of the rest of your life. I'll not tell you it will be easy, but it will be what YOU two make it. Others have had their say, now it's your turn....

Oh, BTW, if you would, take another step away from any shame, toward that pride, and post us some pics of the lucky couple on your wedding day.  :wink: :grin:

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  • Senior Member

Hi, gobe_horse, and welcome to the site.  Honestly, you just have to treat his father as if he were dead.  He doesn't get a vote in your lives.  If he doesn't want to visit, well, some people make poor choices and we can't change that.  It may be worth having your husband tell him (or another relative) that he must get comfortable with one very important fact:  the longer the time goes, the harder any reunion will be.  It just gets too awkward.  What do you talk about after ten or twenty years?  The weather?  "So, what have you been up to, son?"  Also, right now, he's totally irrelevant in your son's mind.  There will be a brief time when your son may wonder about him but the older he gets, the less relevant he'll be.

I tell you this as a man who's mother-in-law has never seen her now adult granddaughters.  They're college students.  They've never met her.  How do you suppose that would work out if she said to them, "hi, I'm grandma!"  I suspect they'd say, "That's nice.  I don't want any Avon or whatever you're selling, so if you don't mind, I was busy playing with my phone."  On a good day, they might actually put her on the spot, ask her why she made the decisions she did and then berate her for her lousy excuses.  Either way, any hope of a relationship with those grandkids is forever lost.

This is another thing to think about.  When you become irrelevant to your own kids and grandkids, your legacy is that you basically existed only as a sperm/egg donor as far as those successive generations are concerned.  It's not long before your name is lost to the dust and forgotten, maybe even making a decent genealogy hard to put together.  In my mind, there is no more pointless a life than one squandered in hatred and bitterness, having forfeited love over anger about the decision another person made.

If he really wants to go to the grave that way, you can't stop him.

Sorry if that's a little gloomy, but it's a reality I've had to learn to live with.

Best wishes,


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Thank you guys. It has been so nice to talk so people with similar relationships and receive positive responses that are supportive and understanding. I think that talking to people on this forum will help me deal with some of my conflicting feelings and make me feel "normal". After all, I have never met another cousin couple before!

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