After years of failed relationships, Monica VanHoek (35) from Colorado in the US, was left searching for support and comfort from her family and confided in her older cousin, Paul Derschan (55).
However, as the months of talking went on, Monica and Paul found themselves having more than a platonic relationship and started to flirt with one another.
“I found myself realising that I had feelings for Paul that weren't like my other family members,” Monica admitted.
As the flirting progressed, the couple became more intimate, much to the dismay of their family.
“Paul offered that we tried to have a relationship and at first I was worried, but I couldn't deny my feelings for him.”
But two years ago, the duo decided to make it official despite being “disowned” by part of their family.
The couple, who are planning to have IVF, got engaged in May 2019 and are officially tying the knot in August this year.
However, despite being “happier than ever” Monica admits she’s devasted that her family doesn’t support their relationship.
“Our family reacted very angrily, a few of them even disowned me because of our relationship.
“Even though it’s legal for us to be together, my family members still thought it was wrong and judged us for it,” she said.
Luckily, some relatives have stuck by Monica and Paul, and are just happy that they have found love in each other.
Before sharing their relationship with their family, the lovebirds decided to share their relationship on social media, “so we knew who was on our side and who wasn't”, Monica added.
Family disagreements were not the only flaw in their relationship, says Monica, explaining that she and Paul also struggled with having sex for some time.
“In the beginning it was extremely difficult to be sexual with him – I felt very guilty and would even cry afterwards because of how bad I felt, and Paul would also,” Monica says.
While their relationship was so natural because they already had a close bond being family, sexual intimacy was the only part that felt forced.
“But we knew that being in a relationship meant we had to be intimate with one another, so we had to get past that barrier to make our relationship stronger and healthy.
“After roughly six months we were able to have a healthy sexual relationship without it feeling incestuous or wrong."
Monica says when they got over this hurdle their relationship grew stronger.
“I believe that being cousins has helped us have the most successful, healthy and happy relationship we could possibly have.
“Our bond is even stronger than average couples because we love each other as family and as spouses – it's like two different forms of love rolled into one, and that's a very binding feeling.”
Sources: Magazine Features