Q: I am a 28-year-old man, in love with my cousin for a few years now. The affair had been a secret until now. We decided to break the news to our family, and get married. Most family members were surprisingly cool about it. Except my mother. She has taken it very badly. She left home in a huff and is staying with my uncle in a different city at the moment. She has vowed not to return until I give up on my love. While I love and adore my mother, I cannot break up with my woman either. She stands to lose much more than I do if this is wedding is called off. Please help!
So you have the classical dilemma of prioritizing your values. In order to do that successfully, you will need a couple of virtues. Let me explain. A value is anything you wish to pursue or keep; in this case it’s your mother’s approval and your future wife’s love. A virtue is something of a tool that would help you get closer to, if not entirely achieve those values; in this case they would be authenticity, confidence, patience and compassion for self and as well for others involved in the situation.
Cousins get married all the time and it’s a rare cultural practice in many Hindu sub-cultures (sorry for assuming that you belong to or subscribe to the Hindu tradition) as well other than the more dominant religious traditions we are aware of. So I won’t go into the righteousness debate of it. The way you have to look at the situation is to examine the angle of fear that you and people around you, including your mother are exhibiting. A lot of parents struggle with processing challenging emotions, especially in cultures like India, which are highly honour based. Your mom is struggling with your decision and her own understanding of life and how it should progress. She shouldn’t be judged for that, she should be given a compassionate space, where she feels comfortable to be able to voice her anger, opinions or, also be allowed to stay silent and not be a part of it. Family counselling is a good option for you guys.
You, on the other hand need to have confidence about the choices you are making in life and the person that you are making it with, and stay authentic to those choices. Your confidence however should not give refuge to anger against others and arrogance that blinds you to any fact that people may or may not take their own time and journey to accept things they don’t agree with and to have the patience to help them with that journey without hurrying them along to get on to your side.
Last but not the least, compassion for yourself and others who are facing the challenge of adjusting to things that they never had skills and/or vocabulary to prepare themselves for. The claim of love, in a way, is tested with the amount of time and space allowed to ourselves and our loved ones to grow and heal. All the best!