Marriages are one of a kind when considered by the aspect of culture,race,age difference, social backgrounds and personalities.
But, when it comes to marriages between blood relatives, termed consanguineous marriages, many eyebrows get raised immediately.
So, why is the prospect of marriage so questionable regards to their longevity and procreation?
According to the Wikipedia definition, as regards to marriage between blood relations, “Though it may involve incest, it implies more than the sexual nature of incest.”
The thought of marrying your cousin sister or brother with whom you have grown up and had brotherly/sisterly feelings seems insane to most.
This type of marriage has been done since generations ,as far as human history is considered. With the advent of medical data and research findings and more exposure to people outside the same kinship , this type of marriage has drastically reduced.
Let us now look through the cons or the negative side of this type ff marriage first and then look at the possible advantages and leave the rest for you to decide!
• This type of marriage is usually considered a bad idea since it can cause inbreeding can lead to harmful genetic mutations in their children in the future.
• Medical research has demonstrated an increased probability(almost double the risk) of birth defects and other long-term health issues in their children.
• When compared with non-consanguinous marriages, the children born out of blood relation marriages had a high chance of birth defects, hence the disdain.
• If there was a family history of hereditary disorders like for example, asthma or epilepsy , there would be every possibility that their child would inherit the same disease in serious form due to result in the accumulation of severe and sometimes lethal mutations.
• Having sexual relations with your partner, who you have known for so long and who you have not been attracted to as a spouse can create marital problems related to physical intimacy.
So, it is mostly the health angle which forms the main prohibition in such types of marriages and their unacceptance in most countries.
But, when it comes to the advantages involved ,
• Research suggests that such couples have more surviving children when compared to those who do not marry in their blood relatives.
• Such marriages are thought to increase family cohesion and reduce any financial burdens since the couple are inter-related and so are their families.
• Total cultural and social compatibility is the most prominent reason since they share the same social status, practise the exact same traditions and there are minimum chances of conflict in religious matters too.
• The future generation becomes a close knit family and they have a shared inheritance, as regards to wealth, property and other financial assets. Hence, this marriage has been practiced since time unknown.
• As the couple know each other so well since childhood, they are considered to be the best life partners for each other.
Now, coming to the decision of choosing a consanguineous marriage under family pressure or choosing a partner who is a complete stranger to your family…It depends on you and your priorities, aspirations regarding marriage, procreation, sexual expectations, financial responsibilities and so much more.
• If you love you freedom of choice and have imagined your marriage to be an adventure with finding your future partner with that golden lamp, then good luck and keep striving till you meet him or her one day.
• If you really believe that you can proceed with marrying your cousin and will be able to give them their share of true love, then it is better to undergo some preliminary health check-ups to rule out any hereditary diseases.
• It is more preferable to marry a second or a third cousin , or even a far off relative if you do not want to marry your first cousin. Convince your parents that it is better to choose someone a bit more distant if they are pressing on marrying only within the interconnected family or “khandaan”.
• If you are under family pressure to marry a cousin or blood relative you DO NOT want to marry since you still have brotherly or sisterly feelings for them:
1. Do not panic and run away without explaining clearly about the concerns related to the health issues to your children in the future. There is tons of research data available to convince anyone today!
2. Do not hurt your blood relative by rejecting them up front, take your time and explain the reasons , your expectations and end it with your feelings towards them.
3. If the matter is still not sorted, it is better to opt for blood tests and preliminary health check ups to ensure that there are genetic health issues which may intensify in the future.
4. You can convince your family that you do not want to spoil your cousin’s life by not giving them the love and respect they deserve as their spouse. Being frank in some matters helps sometimes.
5. Explain and remove any doubts regarding the division of inheritance, financial assets etc which may be the utmost concern lest you choose a partner not from your family. Trust and prove through some official documentation to win their support.
The mounting public awareness regarding the health concerns and disadvantages of consanguineous marriages has led to more couples seeking premarital counselling in this regard.
An estimated one billion of our world population has been found to prefer consanguineous marriages considering the above advantages and the prospect of carrying on the traditions of this kind of marriage in the future.
The main concerns among such couples are ,”Will our children be healthy and normal?”
“Will our children be free from any birth defects , as research suggests?”
“How do we minimize the chances of genetic defects using medical procedures before conceiving?”
The questions and many and specialised help in the form of premarital counseling , namely Preconception genetic counseling is the best solution for concerned couples.
When selective abortion of the affected fetus is not possible due to unawareness or inaccessible and costly health and counselling services, premarital counseling is the best bet for making the couples more knowledgeable about the health risks in general before they tie the knot.
Community programs for premarital screening to detect any possible health anomalies partnered with preconception counselling is the safest way to make an educated and well-informed decision regarding your marriage.
In the end, health is the hands of the Creator.Many couples also have normal children and many non-consanguinous couples also have children with birth defects.It totally depends on the couples’ level of comfort, understanding, religious and moral beliefs, health concerns when they decide to opt for any kind of marriage.
Make a conscious decision, play by the rules, open your eyes to the practicalities and then decide which option would be the best for you and your future.