DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I have been together for almost four years. We were at a party at his sister's house, and I noticed that one of the cousins at the party had a jacket on with the same last name as my great-grandmother's.
I called my mom when we left the party, and it turns out that my boyfriend's cousins are also my grandmother's cousins.
My great-grandmother's nephew married an aunt of my boyfriend. Now my boyfriend is freaked out and concerned that we are related and can't be together.
He is extremely embarrassed and concerned his family will find out. I'm afraid we are going to break up over this.
I've tried to research online to find some kind of proof that we are not actually related, but I can't find anything.
I'm not sure what to do.
Is a person really related to their cousins' cousins on the other side?
— Kissing Cousins?
DEAR KISSING: When one member of his family married a member of yours, you became linked by marriage.
You and your boyfriend are related, but you aren't genetically related, and surely he can wrap his mind around the fact that a cousin of yours marrying an aunt of his doesn't genetically connect the two of you.
If the cousin and aunt had a child, you would both be genetically linked to that child but not to each other.
In many cultures, cousins marrying cousins is not only an acceptable practice, but preferred as a way to consolidate the family. For a famous example of cousins marrying in this country, look to the Roosevelts. Franklin and Eleanor were distant cousins.
The fact that your boyfriend is freaked out and embarrassed — rather than delighted — says a lot about him. He's not able to enjoy life's quirky surprises, and that's a shame.
You could start a dynasty!
DEAR AMY: I had an affair with a married man for more than a year.
I recently broke it off.
I loved him very much but couldn't take sharing him any longer.
I'm not going to expose our relationship to his family or mine, but I feel the need to verbally tell someone about the affair to help me deal with the guilt that I have, as well as my broken heart.
I don't have the money for a counselor.
I would be devastated if I had to confess to my pastor.
Also, if I ever got married, would I have to tell my husband about the affair?
— Confused in Louisiana
DEAR CONFUSED: If you are too embarrassed to speak with your own pastor, you could pursue pastoral counseling elsewhere. Otherwise, talk to a trustworthy friend.
I did an Internet search using the phrase "the other woman" and found several online sites that were offering message boards and supportive content. You may benefit from seeking this sort of anonymous support.
When you finally find someone who loves you enough to choose marriage, you should discuss this episode as part of your mutual disclosure about your previous relationships.
As time goes by and you put your behavior and feelings into perspective, I hope you will see this adulterous affair as a mistake that you won't repeat.
DEAR AMY: I am responding to your advice on how to announce a couple's impending birth to other couples that are infertile.
You suggested wishing the infertile couple success.
That kind of blanket advice is ill advised.
There are a number of infertile couples that would rather not have their present situation mentioned for any reason.
Sometimes the less said the better.
I would much rather hear a friend simply state, "We're expecting."
You should advise your readers to consider the feelings of the infertile couple when deciding whether or not to wish them well.
— Less Is Best
DEAR LESS: Every situation is different, of course, but I still believe that if a couple is aware that another couple is struggling with infertility, it is compassionate to acknowledge it — and then move on.