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Author Topic: Uncomfortable with who my best friend is likely going to marry  (Read 9281 times)

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So this is a situation that I anticipate to happen within the next year or two and I want to be prepared for it. They are not engaged right now but I don't foresee them breaking up.

So I have known my best friend "Sarah" since kindergarten. We have kept in touch over the years even though she has moved multiple times to distant states. "Sarah" was also the maid of honor at my wedding 4 years ago.

So 2 years ago she started to tell me about her new boyfriend  "Bill". She did actually say early in the conversation this..."There are two things you need to know about Bill which bothers people" I say "ok what is it?" She says "well he's 56 (she's 28) but age is just a number." I agreed that wasn't a big deal. "The second thing is; he's my cousin." I paused... "Now when you say cousin do you mean first cousin, second cousin, distant cousin?" "First cousin." she replies. "Well, ok." I said. I didn't really want to voice my opinion on that matter and the conversation continued as normal. The weirdest part about this was that it was her step mother who suggested they would make a cute couple.

Now as an aside, my dear friend has been through a lot. She had an abusive father, she has survived cancer, she had a miscarriage a few months before her previous fiancÚ (who was not related to her) was killed in a car accident. So I understand that she is in need of help but is unable to get it due to financial reasons. She currently is working as a truck driver, I see her usually when her truck route comes through my state.

Now I know that if her and her cousin do get engaged she will ask me to be her matron of honor. (I was going to be the matron of honor at her previously planned wedding before he passed away.) But the whole cousin thing makes me uneasy. I met the guy once, he was kind of creepy in a dirty old man sense. He also looked a lot like her father.

The question is, should I decline? She doesn't really have any other friends. She is quite a difficult person to get along with but we have history.


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Re: Uncomfortable with who my best friend is likely going to marry
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2014, 04:49:41 AM »
Wow. That's a whole lotta stuff going on for one person.

Short answer - if you cannot be happy/supportive for your friend because of your personal opinions about who she is marrying, then absolutely you should decline.

Longer answer - this is a tricky one. You have concerns about this. Are they the kinds of concerns you could talk about with your friend? You've been close for a very long time. If you can have a conversation with her about your concerns, maybe you'll change your mind about her fiance, or remain with the same perspective and still decline.


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Re: Uncomfortable with who my best friend is likely going to marry
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2014, 05:44:46 AM »
Telling your friend that you don't approve of her fiancÚ, or declining to be her MOH will likely end your friendship, or at least damage it a lot. If your thoughts about her fiancÚ are that strong, then you should absolutely decline.

You can view being a MOH as supporting your friend, rather than the decision she's making. I'm positive there are plenty of bridesmaids who don't 100% love and approve of the groom.


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Re: Uncomfortable with who my best friend is likely going to marry
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2014, 06:10:12 AM »
Your friend has a fiance, whom she has gotten together with following a difficult life and personal tragedies. She wants to marry him, and presumably she loves him and he fulfills her needs/desires in some way. Presumably you want your friend to be happy.

The facts that (a) he is much older, (b) he is her cousin, and (c) you find him a bit creepy are your issues, not hers.

Why would you decline supporting her in her choice? He might not be your choice, but she is your friend, and he is hers. Of course you shouldn't participate if you are really opposed to the marriage, but I'd simply suggest stepping back and examining what your issue with it is.


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Re: Uncomfortable with who my best friend is likely going to marry
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2014, 07:11:31 AM »
Well, for one thing, marrying a first cousin is unlikely to lead to problems with children if it's done a single time.  It's when it's done repeatedly in a family (like the royal families) that you start to run into problems.  So if that's your concern about the first cousin relationship, I wouldn't worry about that part too much.  If your concern is that the relationship isn't healthy because they have a family relationship instead of a romantic one, or whatever, then I guess this won't help.  :)

I'd try to see if you could meet him sometime.  Maybe once you've met him, your fears will be lifted.  Maybe he'll turn out to be a great guy who is perfect for her.  Maybe he won't.  But I don't think that either of these things *needs* to be a deal-breaker if you let it.  He may be twice her age, but at least they're 28 and 56, and not 15 and 30.  She's old enough to have some sense of the problems inherit in such a relationship and to make an adult decision.  I'd try to meet him before you decide for sure whether you can support the wedding.
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Re: Uncomfortable with who my best friend is likely going to marry
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2014, 07:27:47 AM »
If your discomfort was around how he treated her or her physical safety, that would be worth potentially blowing up a friendship over.  If it's about the age difference and the fact that they are cousins, it's really none of your business as long as she is happy.


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Re: Uncomfortable with who my best friend is likely going to marry
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2014, 11:43:04 AM »
Honestly I wouldn't be too sure that they aren't going to break up. Sounds like your friend has had a lot of tragedy happen in a short amount of time. And it could be that she is looking for more of a family type relationship to get over that. And so once she is on the path to healing she might discover the relationship isn't what she is looking for anymore. So I wouldn't start making plans on how to break it to her that you don't like her husband - she is pretty far from that step right now. Just keep being there for her and if she does end up staying with him then you can make a decision then on wether you are standing up for her or for them.


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Re: Uncomfortable with who my best friend is likely going to marry
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2014, 11:53:34 AM »
I've been in a wedding where I didn't approve of the groom. (He had cheated on the bride before. She forgave him, I didn't. :P) I looked at it as supporting my friend, not supporting the marriage as a whole. But if you can't do that whole-heartedly (meaning not making bad comments about the groom, etc), then you're better off declining. You can tell a white lie such as saying you don't have the time/money to be a bridesmaid right now and would prefer to just be a guest.


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Re: Uncomfortable with who my best friend is likely going to marry
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2014, 12:27:45 PM »
It may turn into a legal question when she and her cousin/fiancÚ go to get a marriage license.  There are a number of locations where it is illegal to marry your first cousin.  If so, this will turn up when they apply for a license - if they have the same surname.  If they don't have the same surname - then there may be a question on the application that would reveal that they are related *closely* that could keep the marriage from happening.  If they lie on the application - then they face a whole other range of problems that are not etiquette related...even though telling a lie is rude, if you tell it to a governing body, there are other penalties involved.

I have cousins who are "double cousins" to each other because their mothers were first cousins who married brothers.  My grandfather had a double cousin because his parents' had siblings who met & married, I understand that his double cousin & he were very similar in appearance as well as being double first cousins.    I have another cousin who married a guy with the same last name as her maiden name and they actually had to prove to the state that they were not too closely related when the birth certificate for their children was examined (I understand that she is now into genealogy as a result of having to look up both their family trees for three generations....the last name was a common one relating to an ancestral occupation - such as Farmer, Baker, Chandler, or Smith).
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Re: Uncomfortable with who my best friend is likely going to marry
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2014, 12:32:10 PM »
My best friend in college had parents who were cousins. She turned out fine. I wouldn't abandon your friend over a difference in preference of partner. 


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Re: Uncomfortable with who my best friend is likely going to marry
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2014, 12:41:01 PM »
First cousins are legal in many states to marry. Where I live, because we have a closely related small community, everyone is related to everyone. In fact my parents are related. My great-grandmother had two husbands. She was a widow at a young age (one grandparent from that relationship) and remarried (the other grandparent from that one). I'm a cousin's offspring. I am intelligent, relatively free of any genetic issues and have a master's degree and teach at a university. My brother also has a master's degree and works in administration at a university.

You may not like her choice based on these two things, but do you know him? How does he treat her?


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Re: Uncomfortable with who my best friend is likely going to marry
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2014, 09:21:49 PM »
Genetically speaking, first cousins are no more likely to produce 'damaged' offspring than a first-time mother over the age of 40.  Many people may find it disturbing to think about but if there is a significant age difference they likely didn't grow up together.

Now, if he makes you uncomfortable in other ways, that's a whole different issue.


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Re: Uncomfortable with who my best friend is likely going to marry
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2014, 11:13:31 PM »
Marrying cousins has not always been such a strong social taboo.  Up until the automobile and various highway projects put an end to their relative isolation, my dad's family tree is fairly confusing, because his family lived in a very small town with about four last names for quite a few generations.  Lots of cousins of various degrees of relatedness marrying!

The age difference might be a bit odd if the rest of your friends are sticking to partners closer to their own age, but I know a couple who has been together for more than 10 years now, married for the last 4, and they have a similar age gap - he was 35 and she was 64 when I met them.  I have several friends in relationships with 10-20 year gaps.  It might also have lessened the effect of "Ew, gross, he's related to me" since they don't have shared childhoods. 

The creepy vibe that the guy gave you when the relationship with your friend wasn't a factor...that is a problem.  I would probably phrase it that way to her if you bring up any objections, "I didn't like him when I met him before you were dating him.  He did X Y and Z things that made me think of him as a creep then. 


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Re: Uncomfortable with who my best friend is likely going to marry
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2014, 11:53:47 PM »
I agree with all the posts above me. The two issues she mentioned themselves wouldn't concern me too much.

However, it has obviously not escaped your attention that she might be attracted to him because she needs a father-figure. So if she breaks up with him, the next man she dates might also be significantly older and/or she might be with him to fill that role.

I think the part that would concern me most would be what PPs have mentioned, that he gave you kind of a creepy vibe and you just didn't care for him. However, you said she's hard to get along with, and she might have a hard time attracting men, so she might just be realistic and might have decided that it's better to be with someone like this man, than alone.

In the end, you have to follow your conscience. I agree with the others that if you do say something, it will very likely end your friendship.

I had a good friend who was in an emotionally abusive relationship. It was very similar to her own parents' very unhappy marriage. I pointed out to her how horribly he treated her, and that it was very much like the dynamic in her parents' marriage. I was hoping to help her realize that she could do better and find someone who wouldn't treat her so poorly. But our friendship ended and she married him anyway. I hope I'm wrong about her husband, but when I spoke up, it was because I wanted to save her from making a miserable and unhappy life for herself. I knew that like her mother, she wouldn't divorce and she'd just endure the abuse. I decided that I'd rather try to prevent her from doing that, and that it was worth the risk because if I said nothing, mine would be the shoulder she was always crying on when he mistreated her, and for my own sanity, I didn't want to put up with that anymore.

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Re: Uncomfortable with who my best friend is likely going to marry
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2014, 12:38:21 AM »
As others have said, a first cousin marriage isn't necessarily a genetic risk--though if they get to that point and are considering having children, you might suggest that they get genetic counseling, because while the risks aren't high, they might be higher than in a marriage between unrelated people.

Him giving you the creeps is a separate issue; your friend would hardly be the only person to be marrying someone who resembles a parent, in personality if not looks. If his behavior is giving you the creeps, you have the interesting problem of whether to say anything about that, and if so, what; but if you want that option, it's probably best not to also say that it bothers you that he's her first cousin.
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