He is my cousin and he's my perfect other half

Kirstie and Lyle Fisher on the set of SBS's Insight.

Kirstie and Lyle Fisher on the set of SBS's Insight.

Lyle and I are first cousins. We are related by our fathers who are brothers, yet my father and Lyle’s father were never close and lived on opposite sides of the country. In 1995, my uncle and his two kids, Lyle and Melanie, flew over from Victoria to attend a family wedding. I immediately thought Lyle was cute and I instantly wanted to spend all my time with the cute, older cousin. At the wedding Lyle and I were paired up together as dancing partners and while another cousin (who will deny everything now) also thought he was cute, Lyle and I spent a lot of time together.

Tragically, a few days later our grandfather passed away and while it was a sad occasion, it meant more time I could spend with Lyle. When Lyle, Melanie and my uncle returned to Victoria, I kept in contact with Melanie but after a while our letters stopped and I didn’t give much thought to them.

At the age of 15, Lyle got in contact with me thanks to the help of my brothers and for a few months we communicated via MSN and text messaging. While I was excited to be chatting to him again, I was also older and I pushed aside any feelings I had for him, although we both admitted that we were attracted to each other, as much as teenagers can be.

At the age of 17, our aunty passed away and Lyle and Melanie flew over to Perth for the funeral. I hadn’t seen Lyle in 8 years and as soon as I saw him it was like I was a giggling school girl all over again. He had grown up and he wasn’t just cute any more. To me, he was gorgeous. Over the course of the week that he was in Perth we grew closer and there were many stolen kisses when no one was watching, or a grab of the hand. We spent a lot of time texting each other even if we were sitting in the same room. In the back of my mind, I thought it was wrong because he was my cousin, but at the same time the attraction was strong.

A year later, I ventured across the country to Melbourne and we spent a week together being hermits in a hotel room as well as being tourists in a big city. After that week we talked about me moving to Melbourne and while I really wanted to, the negative thoughts outweighed it all and I just couldn’t bring myself to go.

In 2005 I had my oldest daughter to another person and I know that it gutted Lyle that it wasn’t his daughter. We chatted on and off for the next few years and in 2008, along with my daughter Miranda, now eight, I headed to Queensland on a holiday to visit Lyle, whom had moved there a few years previously. After two weeks, Lyle’s mum, Jo, confronted us and said that she knew something was going on and handed us a stack of paper telling us that it was OK for us to be together. A huge weight lifted off my shoulders and a few days later we were engaged and I was heading back to Perth to tell my family, pack up my things and move back to Queensland 

In all honesty, my family’s reaction didn’t surprise me. My father told me it was wrong and disgusting and I now haven’t spoken to him in almost six years. My mum was very much the same but after a few months she realised that I was happy and now she is happy for us. Two of my brothers aren’t really bothered but my oldest brother and Lyle’s sister Melanie don’t agree with it. But they both know we are happy and I think that’s what matters most to them.

The extended family, cousins, aunts and uncles, are the most negative. After six years, they are still gossiping about the fact that Lyle and I are together. They are very vocal in saying that we are disgusting and gross and it’s wrong.

Since 2008 we have welcomed two sons and a daughter into this world. Alex, four, and Zachary, seven months, are growing up quickly, but sadly, our daughter Danica passed away during labour, which had nothing to do with our relationship.

There are plans to get married but there is no rush. We have had many people congratulate us and support us but we have also had many people with negative comments, and whom we never hear from again. But we don’t really care. No one can say anything to us that we haven’t heard before and the most important thing of all is that we are happy. Without Lyle, I am not a complete person. He is my perfect other half. We are happy, our kids are happy and to be perfectly honest, who are we hurting by being together? I love Lyle and I won’t stop loving him just because people perceive us as wrong, or disgusting.

Before anyone judges us, do your research and educate yourself.

Kirstie is a guest on tonight’s episode of Insight at 8.30pm on SBS One, which brings together cousin couples, their families, doctors and geneticists to find out why cousin relationships are both celebrated and scorned.http://www.sbs.com.au/insight/   #insightsbs

 

 

49 comments

  • Yes it's unusual, but its anyone else's business.

    Commenter
    Inner Northbourne
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    October 29, 2013, 6:17AM
    • Nothing is anybody else's business until you decide to announce it to the world. That's just begging the social sites to light up. Personally, I'd rather not know about anything that doesn't concern me {like other peoples sex life for instance} but curiosity just felled my cat.

      Commenter
      mutt
      Date and time
      October 29, 2013, 11:54AM
    • @Inner Northcourne, couldn't you apply that reasoning to siblings? A slightly deeper analysis is really required.

      So is it illegal? The answer is no. Illegality only applies to siblings.
      So why the reaction? Because it is not a social norm (any more) and it is close to the sibling thing. Most of the reaction is social conditioning.

      However as I suspect the program will discuss, there is some reason for the social norm to discourage cousin couples. There are some genetic risks for children of cousin couples. Where the cousin couple is a one off in a family history, that risk is small. Where a cousin couple has a history of cousin couples in their lineage, there is a much larger risk of genetic problems. And that is where it becomes other people's business.

      Commenter
      Paul T
      Date and time
      October 29, 2013, 3:47PM
  • That's pretty bizarre, I guess it isn't illegal? It's not incest? Anyway good luck to them.

    Commenter
    Ned
    Date and time
    October 29, 2013, 7:58AM
    • No, it's not illegal anywhere in Australia (and, I suspect, most of the world). My parents are first cousins (married in NSW in '69). I suspect it's more common than most people realize because people avoid talking about it due to stigma.

      From a genetics point of view, it's not a big deal unless there is some serious genetic disease in the family or if there have been several marriages within the family (eg, parents as well as grandparents are cousins). A one-off marriage between cousins does slightly raise the risk of children getting genetic diseases, but only very sightly above the average of the rest of the population.

      Commenter
      Judy
      Date and time
      October 29, 2013, 4:37PM
  • Can't wait to see if there are any religious folk who will jump onto this one.....

    Commenter
    Happy
    Date and time
    October 29, 2013, 8:45AM
    • Or keep their heads down.
      There are religions where marrying cousins is perfectly acceptable.
      There are states too, notably Tasmania and Alabama but lets not go there.

      Commenter
      J Walker
      Date and time
      October 29, 2013, 1:26PM
    • Perhaps not - not if they know their texts. In Genesis, Abraham married his half sister, Jacob married two of his cousins and Isaac married the daughter of his cousin.

      Commenter
      Paul T
      Date and time
      October 29, 2013, 3:51PM
  • What was in the stack of paper telling you it was OK?

    Commenter
    Garrett
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    October 29, 2013, 9:18AM
    • Lol.

      Yeah, what's with that?

      Commenter
      Syd
      Location
      Sydnaaay
      Date and time
      October 29, 2013, 10:03AM

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