DEAR ABBY: On May 8 last year, my girlfriend read me the article in your column signed "Kissing Cousins," asking in which states cousins could marry. You rattled off a list of them, and my jaw hit the table. My first cousin and I had adored each other our whole life, but had never spoken of it because we wrongly assumed it was forbidden by God and man. As it turns out, Jacob and Rachel, and many Biblical characters, were cousins, which was the preferred way to go in ancient and modern times.
Albert Einstein married his cousin, Elsa, which probably provided him inspiration for discovering the theory of "relativity."
The family of Ashley Wilkes, the man Scarlett O'Hara was always after, married their cousins in "Gone With the Wind," with no social stigma at all.
Two months after reading that article, my cousin and I were married, and the ecstasy of this marriage cannot be captured in words. You are responsible for it, Abby, and I wanted you to know. -- IN HEAVEN IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR IN HEAVEN: It's gratifying to know that something you saw in my column affected your life so profoundly. In many countries, marriage between first cousins is considered a perfect union. Healthy cousins may face a slightly elevated risk of genetic defects in their offspring because they are more likely to share a recessive gene than are most couples. But that can be dealt with through genetic counseling. I wish you continued success and happiness in your marriage.