DEAR ABBY: I am recently divorced after a 19-year marriage, and to my great shock, I already find myself in love with another man. I didn't come out of the marriage looking for anyone, nor did I think I'd ever marry again, but this man wants to marry me, and I'm seriously considering it.
We bonded when he contacted me to offer support after he heard about my divorce, and it was love at "second" sight. Why "second"? Because we grew up together -- literally next door -- and he's my first cousin.
Despite the societal taboo, it is legal in my state for first cousins to marry, and genetic issues with offspring aren't a concern. We're both sterile and have no ability (or desire) for more children. My siblings suspect and aren't pleased with the situation. His parents know and are happy for us.
Am I crazy to think I'm in love again this quickly? It doesn't feel too fast because we've always known each other and been close; it's just that the form of love has changed. How do we break it to the rest of the family? The world? People can be so judgmental, even though in many parts of the world it is perfectly normal to marry your cousin. -- SECRET LOVE IN THE SOUTH
DEAR SECRET LOVE: You are not "crazy," but you may be in an altered mental state, as many recently divorced people have found themselves. They describe it as a kind of high.
If you are wise -- and I hope you are -- you will slow this romance down and allow enough time for your family to become accustomed to the changed circumstances of your relationship with your cousin. The "world" isn't going to care about this the way your family does, so don't concern yourself with explaining anything to the general public. (How often have you asked couples to explain if they are related in addition to marriage? Not many, I'll bet.)
My advice is to let this new relationship evolve more slowly. If you do, the outcome may be more positive than if you hurtle to the altar.