Friday, 25 January 2013

My Sister - My Wife

It's an age old story, boy meets girl. They fall in love. A relationship forms. One evening they come together and the question is popped - will you be my wife? So romantic you say, but would you say the same thing if you found out that they were actually step-brother and step-sister? My jaw fell open as I watched a documentary about couples who had fallen in love and married their own step-brother or step-sister, and it's legal. 

Call me old fashioned, ignorant, out of touch with what's going on this world, whatever, but I can't get my head around it. My mind kept shouting out 'INCEST!!!'. It didn't make a difference whether or not they were raised in the same house or whether they knew each other beforehand. As far as I was concerned they were now related via their parent's marriage. It doesn't sit right with something within me.

Am I right to be so utterly confounded or baffled, or is my thinking being dominated by an unfounded taboo?
Was it my upbringing, my beliefs, my morals or ethics? I can't work it out. 


This then sucked me down the deep rabbit hole. I started thinking about those that marry their cousins. Now this is blood related! My brain is in overdrive now.  I mean, didn't Charles Darwin marry his first cousin Emma? Hang on a minute, so did Albert Einstein, H G Wells and Franklin Roosevelt, to name just a few. Not to mention the various cultures all over the world that marry in this way? But what about their children, aren't parents this closely related associated with much higher levels of birth defects? This whole subject has opened up a huge can of worms for me, so to speak. I'm wondering if any of you out there can help to make this plainer. 

How do you view blood related and/or step related marriages?
Are your views based on your morals, ethics, religions, health, science etc?
Think about the love of your life right now. If you suddenly found out they were your cousin or step-sibling, what would you do?
Are there any traditions/customs that you can't get your head around ie: mormons/muslims having more than wife?

I love to hear your views, opinions and comments.

67 comments:

  1. My parents were first cousins. As long as we're talking about adults and there's mutual consent, anybody can marry anybody, as far as I'm concerned. It's nobody's business but their own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we're talking about adult relationships here. You don't have to answer this NP, but if there was a congenital birth defect of the kind that's more prevalent in the offspring of first cousins, ie: your brother/sister, would your views be any different? Just a thought, and thanks for your comment.

      Delete
    2. No, not at all. First of all, those dangers are greatly exaggerated, part of the fear campaign to prevent such unions. There are no laws prohibiting smokers or drinkers or pill-poppers or people whose families have terrible medical histories from getting married and having children, and those conditions are much more likely to have detrimental effects. In my opinion, the taboo against such marriages is just like that against homosexual marriages-just blind prejudice.

      Delete
    3. Nothingprofound, as devils advocate, you could say that smoking, popping pills etc, effects the person doing it while first cousin relationships can potentially effect the offspring, so it's slightly different. For example the Pakistani community in which the practice is prevalent have massively disproportionate rates of birth defects even resulting in shortened life expectancy.

      Delete
    4. No, rpd, all those practices effect the development of the child in the womb and can have very severe repercussions. I'm sure you're aware of the existence of crack babies, etc. There's a difference between the existence of in-breeding that stretches over hundreds of years and two first cousins who happen to want to get married. I can assure you neither my brothers nor I are deficient in any way, psychologically, physically or intellectually. In fact I probably had the most perfect parents anyone can imagine. As I said, it's just mere prejudice based on nothing but convention and misplaced morals.

      Delete
    5. NP, I don't think anyone would claim that every baby or even the majority born to first cousins has birth defects. But it is the case that the prevalence is disproportionately higher among them than in the general population.

      Please don't feel that I am saying anything personal in any of this, against either you or your parents. We are talking genetics and probability. Parental love and care are another issue entirely and out of the question in a discussion such as this. I really appreciate you contributing here in such a balanced and courteous way, given that this post is something close to your heart.

      Delete
  2. It feels wrong. Genetically it is demonstrably wrong. It harms society by weakening the gene pool. God's not happy with it. Choose your world view. Wrong.

    Not that I have strong feelings about this.... :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Robert, what makes you feel it's wrong? It is a religious conviction because you mentioned God, or does it have another basis? Thanks for your views on this Robert.

      Delete
  3. I can't see the problem with step-siblings marrying, it's only when there is a genetic bind that things get a bit, well, eeeewwww...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Replies
    1. Thanks for your point of view Dalecooper57 and welcome.

      Delete
  5. Although marrying within one's bloodline poses a higher risk for genetically-transmitted diseases, I don't think it's morally wrong. Like NP said, as long as it's consenting adults, to each his own. The step-sibling issue is less complicated to me; they're not blood-related and they're only family by name. As far as polygamy goes, that seems like more of an exploitation of women to me, especially because women don't get to have multiple husbands. Seriously, why would a man need more than one wife?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've wondered the exact same thing myself Helena.

      A friend of mine who is a muslim, and his religion allows for more than one wife. He initiated a courtship with a prospective second wife, unbeknown to his current wife. They began exchanging text messages until one day his wife was going through his phone messages (why she felt the need to do this is another story) but she promptly put a stop to the budding romance. Let me tell you Helena, 'hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn'. He's still paying the price.
      I'm saying this in a light-hearted way, but it caused deep hurt. Thanks for your views Helena.

      Delete
  6. I can't see a reason why marrying your step-sibling should be considered wrong. There isn't an increased risk of defects, since there is no blood relation. Beyond that, I firmly believe it's not our place to judge.

    Even in the case of blood-relation, there isn't a moral argument. If they are two consenting adults, then who are we to judge? From a practical/legal perspective, however, we have outlawed marriages between people that are too closely related. This has to do with the genetics of the offspring, however, and should not be a moral judgement. In fact, if the couple were willing to adopt, I see no reason they should not be allowed to marry.

    In the case of polygamy, I can agree that it is frequently abused and as Helena Fortissima pointed out, serve as an exploitation of women. But I do not think that polygamy inherently has to be this way. Consider modern polyamory where individuals are in open relationships, and it is open on both sides. If everyone involved is comfortable with the arrangement, it has the potential to grow a family into a community all on its own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Neel I can see how, once you remove the moral element from the issue, you reach your conclusions.
      I'm not so sure about your endorsement of polyamoury. Don't you think there could be social ramifications of such arrangements, once children begin to come into the equation? I wonder if they can offer a child born into those situations the same measure of stability and security as seeing the heads of their family in a committed and stable relationship.

      Delete
  7. I think it's sick, I'm against blood related and step related marriages. It would burn the trust within the family boundaries. It would set a bad example for the children too. Believe me, I think it is Wrong, completely. It will never be okay, or acceptable in society. Kids look up to their parents, and it certainly not be a good example for kids to think this is normal! It is not acceptable in society, period.

    ReplyDelete
  8. All I can say for those people that think it is okay, it's probably because their parents raised them thinking that it is normal when they were kids. It will never be acceptable. Believe me it's wrong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susana, you said 'it would burn the trust within the family boundaries'. Are you able to expand a little more? Because I don't understand in what way, and I don't want to mis-understand you.
      In terms of it being acceptable or not, although you obviously have very strong opinions about this matter, there are vast swathes of people across the world who wouldn't bat and eyelid. This is the nature of moral issues that can be intensely subjective.

      In the same way that you say those who accept this, do so because of they way they were raised. They would point the finger back at you and say, the reason you don't accept this is because of the way you were raised. So who gets to decide?
      Thanks for sharing your view Susana.

      Delete
  9. I've always said that people should be able to do whatever they wish, so long they are not hurting anyone else or themselves. While the thought of incest is distressing to me, my rational side tells me that it's all good if they are in love and happy. My brain hurts

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But Kyle, those who reproduce with those too closely related to them expose their offspring to a greater risk of birth defects. So there is a very real potential for harm/hurt. I share your brain pain. Thanks for the comment Kyle.

      Delete
  10. 1st or 2nd cousin marriages bother me less than a religion where a parent will let a close relative, even a child die for want of a blood transfusion because of their (not the child's) interpretation of a holy scripture.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Roger, there maybe a lot of things that bother you more than this issue, but it seems to me that it still bothers you? Why?
      The point you raised about blood transfusion, is a good one. Another can of worms.

      Delete
  11. Personally I don't see anything wrong with consenting adults in a relationship. Not ever. As for genetics, well frankly there are a lot of people out there that should not breed period because of their genetics, but we do not take them out of the gene pool. I think it is up to the individuals. I think they should make their own informed decisions. There are diseases out there with a 50% inheritance rate, yet we do not stop People with those diseases from breeding. Personally I am uncomfortable with ever making those choices for another human being.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh, and on a related (no pun intended) note.... I have a friend whose father in law married her mother:) To me that would be the same as step siblings marrying if they were raised in separate households.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While I share your sense of discomfort with making choices for other human beings, in situations such as parenthood, this becomes inevitable. Wouldn't you say that people who conceive children, knowing that in so doing they expose them to a much higher risk of diseases, are making a choice that potentially impacts massively on those other human beings?
      Thanks for sharing your views Jamie.

      Delete
    2. I do not think us making those choices for others is inevitable at all, a d I would fight tooth and nail to keep laws outside of anyone's bedroom and body. Fact is, kids born to close relatives do exist, not allowing them to marry only puts that child in more instability. What else do such laws accomplish?

      Delete
    3. As always Jamie, you are a force to be reckoned with, and it's good to have you back. I guess I need to think about what you have said.

      Delete
    4. OK Jamie... I've been off and thought about it.

      Let's say I agree with you that the law is a blunt tool for dealing with this kind of bedroom issue.

      That does not mean that an educational campaign would be a bad idea, similar to the one warning of the dangers of smoking. What do you think of this?

      Delete
    5. Agree 100%. Education is the key to most issues. Informed decisions more often than not tend to be right. Sure there will always be some people who make what others consider bad choices, but the more educated they are the better chance they can make the choice that is right for them

      Delete
  13. It definitely should be illegal for any direct blood relative to marry another. In the States, normally its all the way to first cousins.

    What gets me, is I saw a talk show where these two kids were madly in love, then their parents met, and went, "Uh Oh...." They didn't know it when they fell in love, but they actually turned out to be half brother/sister, and their relationship was illegal. It was so sad to see, because they were so in love....

    In the end, its been proven, over and over, that inbreeding is bad. It causes all sorts of genetic problems. So it should not be performed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dan. What a shock that must have been for them to find out they were half brother and sister. I would have passed out there and then, no joke. Can you imagine the mental distress this caused? And the torment of realising that you were having a relationship with your half bro/sis. That's why I feel that it's very important for families to at least know who they are related to, although for many reasons it's not so easy.
      My friends have a culture where people are being called aunty, uncle or cousins etc when they are not actually related but rather because they were raised in the same street, area or shared a large house together.

      I don't agree with this because the children grow up believing a lie, then unexpectedly - at weddings, funerals, family functions - they find out that the so called aunty, uncles or cousins were just family friends and not related in any way. My experience is, that this causes confusion about who your actual relatives are.

      Delete
  14. As long as they are not blood relatives I think it's OK. If they are blood relatives but become sterile in order to avoid birth problems then it's OK. Birth control is not 100% effective so one of them must become sterile.
    Still, it would be difficult for me to marry someone in the family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, that's a different way of seeing things John. I can only imagine the difficulties for government/law in enforcing this sterility, however!

      Delete
  15. Dude... 1st: Thanks for the visit. Much appreciated. 2nd: Enjoyed your Post here...

    I'm with you. Was raised not in that way. Could not imagine it.
    Pretty freakin' crazy. The whole kid thing is pretty scary as well.

    Will be back for more. Take care, Slu

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Stephen and thanks for stopping by here. Quick question. Even if you were not raised this way, now that you're an independent thinker, what actually makes it still 'pretty crazy' for you now? Just a thought.

      Delete
    2. I guess I just look at it as being "family" and in my mind... that makes it wrong. Pretty much as simple as that. Kind of like you said at one point: I just can't wrap my head around it. Slu

      Delete
  16. I'm quite content with my attraction to men outside of my immediate family, thank you very much! Much too close for comfort, and there are so many wonderful men out there to choose from :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your points of view Michelle. I think I get it, ha ha ha :)

      Delete
  17. I will be as polite as possible. Let's just say you get no argument from me! We have been married thirty years and each came into this marriage with our own biological children.

    We raised five kids three biologically his and two mine. They have bonds just as close as they do to their biological siblings.

    So for me this is weird! We are becoming a society, all over the world, that seems to think as long as you are a consenting adult...anything goes.

    Wow, where and or we ever going to draw the line? Is the line gone forever? I hope not!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've kind of made a serious point I'm thinking about now Jackie. Yes, consenting adults is a good thing BUT does it make what we do right? OK, lets say we don't personally harm anyone BUT do we just close our eyes to just about everything and really say, it's none of our business? Then again, if the consequences of minding one's own business has a personal 'side effect' on me, shouldn't we then get involved before it happens? As a wild but clear example: brother and sister have children, huge pressure to everyone on medical services, taxes, special education, etc etc etc......

      I think you've given me a very good future blog post topic Jackie. My mind, once again is beginning to race due to your comment. Food for thought for sure. Thanks for playing with my mind Jackie :)

      Delete
  18. I never any foreigner to have his views so full of ethics and beliefs. It is sounding quite Indian! Lolz.
    I mean for me and my heart I can never accept any such relation. May it be your real cousin, first cousin,step-bro or whatever.
    I somehow feel that if you are marrying in any such relation, you are somewhere violating the purity of the brother-sister relation.
    Also, these daily soaps have influenced the minds of the young generation here, and they tend to follow this path!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Esabella, don't get me started on TV soaps. They are not all bad but I must agree that many of them don't seem to influence young adults in a positive way. Very few deal with real life situations and turn it into a positive but I guess that's what makes the soaps compelling TV.
      Thanks for your comments Esabella.

      Delete
  19. The cousins thing is kind of creepy, but I don't have as much of an issue with the step bother & sister thing. Let's say they are in the same family when they are young, then the folks divorce---the step brother & sister don't see each other again until they are adults. They aren't blood related, so in that case I have no problem at all with them having a relationship.
    This is why I love visiting your blog--you ALWAYS come up with the most interesting topics!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, to quote the old saying, 'blood is thicker than water' and it seems that many people draw the line at the same place. Always appreciate what you have to say mama.

      Delete
  20. Hum I might not be the best candidate to talk about this subject, as I come from a small country and if you go back enough in your family history you'll definitely find you are related to your spouse or partner!. I might be retained "lucky" to have Greek ancestors in a way.

    I don't see that marrying a step sister/brother is a bad thing after all you are just related by a piece of paper not by blood. Marrying your cousin....well that is totally a different story, then again this is just my point of view.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hotei - It seems as though despite not everyone agreeing, there does seem to be something of a consensus. Blood is the big issue for most people. Thanks for your comment Hotei.

      Delete
  21. Marrying within the same bloodline is scary to me and step marriages don't sit well with me either. But whats to be done when these actions occur, but live and let live. Thanks for a thought provoking post, enjoyed my visit as always. :-) 

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing your views here My Meddling Mind.
      'What's to be done?' this is a very valid question. 'Live and let live' is one thing when people's actions don't affect the lives of others but as we've been discussing, with this issue it is not always the case.

      Delete
  22. Although it does seem weird to me to marry your step-brother or step-sister, it's actually not that wrong, given that there is no blood relation. For example, my father has a partner that has two sons, now if he marries her they will be my step-brothers. I don't feel at all related to them though, I barely even know them. (Not that I intend to marry one of them, just trying to explain.)
    But marrying someone blood-related just seems to be really wrong, especially when it's someone really closely related like your own sibling. I have brothers and it just seems sick to even imagine anything like that.
    But, I don't know, maybe I am narrow-minded about this.

    And I'm sorry for being so late with commenting RPD :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing your views on this Kleopatra. I don't see you as narrow minded at all, rather the opposite. And I do know how busy you are, so thanks for taking the time out of your studies to leave a comment :)

      Delete
  23. I completely agree with your perspective. It's absolutely disgusting. I just read about a teenage girl who found out she was pregnant by her step-brother. Um, ew?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome Disa. What I'm doing here, is raising an issue that I was wrestling with. As happens in many cases, the comments I get on my blog can lead to a shift in mine and/or others opinions/thinking. Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  24. Marrying cousins isn't much of a shocker to me because from where i come from it was a marriage tradition to fix marriages (arranged marriage) between cousins but lately parents became more aware of probable danger it may cause to their grand kids, so now many don't prefer that kind of marriage but still there are many who follows the tradition. In our neighboring state Tamil Nadu the traditions are more bizarre than this were an arranged marriage is set between one and his elder sisters daughter ie he marries his own niece.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your comment sought of chimes in with the observation of Donna, that breeding among close relatives has been historically a feature of rural communities, not so much through choice but of necessity as they did not have the opportunity to meet people from outside their closed circle. Thanks for giving your interesting perspective on this Rahul, and good to see you. Hope you stop by again.

      Delete
  25. Hard to know what gets into the minds of people. I think historically this was used because transportation was limited and clan loyalty. Honestly, I don't think it's a good idea because haven't they proved that genetically it's damaging?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The technical term is heterozygous and it is used to describe very different gene pools. Studies have shown that the greater the level of this, the greater the chances of a baby not being afflicted with a congenital defect. This should prove to be one of the advantages of the global village, but your right, people have not always had this choice.

      Delete
  26. Personally, I don't think I could do it. Then again I have never been in that situation. I'm with you. The thought creeps me out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think my response would be the same as what I said to Disa above. "I'm just raising an issue I'm wrestling with". Nice to hear from you Janene.

      Delete
  27. Hi Rum-Punch Drunk. Well, step-brother and step-sister are not blood related so marriage is legal. But I can’t wrap my head around it either! I’d like to think my views are based on common sense. I see it the same way you do, they are now related via their parent’s marriage so it just doesn’t seem right. I feel the same way about cousins marrying and that is blood related. I believe there has been medical evidence that a close blood related union increases the risk for birth defects and even for mental illness. I have a family story that fits right in with this.

    My mother’s roots are Italian, Sicilian. It is family lore that long ago, two sets of second cousins in the same line married in Sicily. Both families bore children who suffered from severe mental illness, and that mental illness has been carried through every generation in that family since then (it affected my mother and grandfather). In recent years, there’s been genetic research indicating that certain physical and mental illness can be passed on through genes. Now I can’t say it all started with those two sets of second cousins marrying (and even a first and second cousin who married) but it’s something my sisters and I have speculated about over the years. I think if close blood relations marry and have children, it can definitely have an effect on the gene pool.

    About customs allowing multiple wives, well, I won’t criticize their customs but I would not be party to it. Quite frankly, I can’t help but think this is a male fantasy being played out, I’m sorry LOL!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment JerseyLil, I can see where you are coming from. At least with science we now have the knowledge to know that there may be consequences in having children in regards to blood relatives, so that's a good start.

      I also see what you mean about 'male fantasy being played out'.

      Delete
  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Interesting subject. Sorry, I deleted my previous comment, but I left out one word that totally changed what I intended. I am of the conviction that these lines should not be crossed, even in the case of step brothers and step sisters. We now live in a society where it seems as if anything goes, and no boundaries exist. And, yes, my views are rooted in my religious beliefs (for instance, Leviticus 18:6-17, 1 Corinthians 5:1-2).

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thanks Frank. I'm gonna have a read of those scriptures to see where you are coming from on this. And you do have a point when it comes to society not having boundaries. I see this in many areas of life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've looked up the scriptures and it is very clear what they are saying, no disputing that. I said in my post that I was unsure as to where my moral compass gets it's bearing from in some instances. These texts make this clear to me. Thanks for reminding me Frank.

      Delete
  31. I missed this one. Interesting topic as usual.
    I would say, it's nobody's business for two adults falling in love and make "couple" live together. However, if this couple want to build a family, have kids, it could be "controversial".
    Back in early human history, incest was common due to very small population. As population no long a problem, as science developed, we found what's going on with this blood related marriage. I would say it would not be wise for someone to marry someone with blood relationship, if they want children. But I also see this scientific discovery somehow is against personal freedom. I guess this is one of the punishment that we stool the fruit of wisdom. No way out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks you so much Yun Yi for reading and taking the time to share you views. I appreciate it very much.

      Delete
  32. Like you i believe that if you are related by marriage or blood that you should not be able to marry or even have a sexual relationship with that person. In my family we have an uncle that married his first cousin! Everyone in the family went up in arms against it and still they went ahead and got married.

    They had a child afterwards but the relationship kind of fell apart being that she was a lot younger than he was and wanted to go out dancing ans stuff like that. In the end they divorced and she took him to the bank and took everything from him in the form of child support. Hopefully he learned his lesson right then!

    Jose

    ReplyDelete

Feel free to speak your mind but please keep it respectful.
Disrespect will be happily deleted.
Thanks for posting!

hostgator coupons