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Hadeed

problems faced by cousin couples in the west

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Hello friends,i am from Pakistan and in my country people are very much liberal when it comes to cousin marriage to the extent that cousin marriages are arranged by families.but i have heard that in western countries like USA,cousin couples have to face a lot of problems and pressure from their families and friends so i wanted to know that what kind of problems do you guys face and why is it that peole in the west have an animus against cousin marriage?

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Hadeed,

There are a number of factors.

First, for somewhat self-serving motives, several hundred years ago, ( I forget the exact century) the Roman Catholic Church prohibited the practice, out to several levels of cousins. (even third and fourth, IIRC) Then, the restriction was eased for all but first cousins, and even up to first cousins, with a "dispensation" (special permission) from the Church. Provided it is legal in the place the wedding would occur. Which brings us to......

Second, in the mid to latter part of the 1800's, when genetic sciences were in their infancy, there were majorly flawed assumptions and over estimated risks assumed of the genetic issues with the offspring of cousins. Laws were changed based on these flawed assumptions. All at a time when the States were getting involved in the "marriage license" business. Which brings us to....

Third, along about the same time, arranged marriages, or at least the "shepherding" of couples toward each other, many of which were cousin couples, was falling out of favor, and younger people were more and more finding their own mates. The population was increasing, people were more mobile, and began to venture further away from family. Mechanical transportation, namely rail, was making the world smaller, while at the same time showing average folk just how big the world is.

Over time, these factors contributed to a subconscious aversion to the practice as being "backward" and fraught with peril for the children of cousins. And, being from Pakistan, I doubt I need tell you that there are indeed risks associated with the practice. I'm sure you're well aware of pockets of your community in your home country and abroad where there are some genetic issues. But, as you note, the practice is widespread, and the issues are generally isolated, and may even be a side effect of specific genetic issues in specific family lines more so than solely to blame on the fact that the parents are cousins. It causes the practice to be unfairly stereotyped IMHO.

As with Islam, there is no religious prohibition in the Judao-Christian religions per se, only the one denominational one previously mentioned with the Catholic Church, and, again, they also allow it, provided it is legal in the jurisdiction. All Christian denominations so far as I know, are the same, in that they allow it, provided it is legal. If you care to see the "Religion" section of the main page of the site here, you will see instances in which God commanded cousins to marry. Many in the West are under the false assumption, because of the previously mentioned factors, that the Bible prohibits it, as does God. They are wrong, but WOW, try to convince them of it. You can show them in Scripture, and they will STILL say they are right, even if they won't go so far as to say the Scriptures are wrong. You can't have it both ways, but they sure do try.

There are probably other smaller factors that play in, and some of these could use further clarification I'm sure, but these are the major reasons in a nut shell.

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Hawk did a good job of describing the Whys of the Cousin Debate in the US.  It's gotten to a point where people generally react negatively to the idea of cousins being romantically involved, but have never given any thought as to why they think the way they do.  And many people believe the over-blown, skewed science circling around about genetic disorders.  Again, no one has taken the time to look at the actual data behind the true science - it's easier to believe the old wives tales.  I say this with a grain of salt, because it wasn't too long ago that I was in the same boat.  If I hadn't fallen in love with my cousin, I may never had reason to consider an alternate point of view on this topic.

The social fall-out can be intense for some cousin couples.  I am rather new to this phenomenon myself, being a woman in my 40's and I have only been involved with my 1st cousin for about a year.  I am lucky that I am at a point in my life that I don't really care what other people think; I have found a man that brings immense joy to my life and I have no intentions of letting him go.  That being said, only a handful of people know that my guy and I are related, simply because I don't want to cause any unwanted drama amongst my friends.  It seems (and I say this anecdotally), that a lot of the drama surrounding cousin couples dissipates once the couple decides that they have chosen each other.  Parents and family members may huff and puff, but after a while, the family either accepts the relationship or the couple simply learns to put their own relationship as a priority and moves away from the drama.

From my own experience, I can say that we expected more push back from our families than we actually experienced.  His Dad finds it morally repulsive (but has no foundation to stand on), my mom is tolerant, but I'm not sure she approves 100%, but for the most part, our families have been gracious and well behaved, even if in the back of their minds they think it's "wrong".  Of course, I do think that our ages have had a bit of influence on how our families have reacted.  We are mid-40's and are both established in our lives and careers and frankly, we don't need anyone's stamp of approval.  Perhaps we would've had a different reaction if we were 20 years younger. 

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