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considering health problems and disorders during spouse search

Discussion in 'Married Life' started by sandu, Dec 12, 2009.

  1. sandu

    sandu Bronze IL'ite

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    Dear ILites,
    The parents of a friend of mine in India are looking for a groom for her. I came to know of some criteria that her parents are imposing on the health condition of the groom. The girl basically does not have any health problem, except that she wears specs (myopia with quite a high power). They are intent on getting a groom whose family history preferably does not include chronic illnesses like asthma, diabetes, optical power not too high, etc. The reason is that one of their family members was married to a guy whose dad was an asthma patient (& who died before he turned 60 because of asthma). The couple's young child now suffers from childhood asthma. So, the parents of this girl want to be on the safe side for their daughter.

    My questions:
    - Are you aware of any such couple where either of their family has a history of any such illness or disorder? How is their married life? Esp children? Are they affected by the same disorder?
    - In case the child is unlucky to get the same illness as the parent or grandparent, does it lead to a decrease in the understanding between the couple? And do they opt NOT to have a second child because of the first child's situation?
    - We read in the papers about some gene therapy (gene selection to minimise the risk of contracting these illnesses in the baby). Is it done in practice anywhere in India? Or in USA? If yes, is it successful and how costly is it?
    - Do you think it makes sense to impose such criteria while looking for a bride/groom?

    I have no influence on this girl or her groom search. Still, I want to know your opinions.

    Thanks for all your replies.
    Sandhya
     
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  2. asuitablegirl

    asuitablegirl Gold IL'ite

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    In my family on my dad's side, there is high incidence of diabetes. Few have died from it, and a cousin had to have his leg amputated. One on my mom's side had heart disease, and my mom's grandmother had alzeimers.

    On my dh's side there is history of heart disease and I think one or two with diabetes.

    We didn't discuss family health before marriage. But we have discussed it since! I think it is sort of silly to exclude a person because a certain illness runs in their family, unless it is highly probable your baby will be born with that disease and it can't be prevented through a healthy lifestyle. But in the case with diabetes, a lot of times that can be prevented through diet, health and exercise. So although our kids will probably be at a heightened risk for diabetes, we are not too worried. We will simply monitor that and take preventative measures. As for heart disease, lot of time staying fit can lessen your risk. And once you reach very old age, everyone has to die of something. So again, no point in thinking you can avoid everything because something is going to get you in the end!

    Think about it this way... even if both couples are perfectly healthy, their kid might not be born healthy just because that is an unfortunate possibility in nature. And even if the kid is healthy, they might contract something later on... either through their own lifestyle, or through plain bad luck.

    I have heard of some diseases or deformities where if one parent has it, there's like 25% risk of baby having it, but if both parents have it is something like 90%. I think in that case, it might be worth finding a partner who doesn't increase the risk.
     
  3. NewWoman

    NewWoman Senior IL'ite

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    Sandhya,
    My dad is suffering from asthma for the past 35 years. Ever since I remember. It comes and goes and it gets worse with cold weather. There is diabetes and heart disease on dad's side and arthritis on mom's side of the family. Thankfully, my siblings and I have not inherited any of these ailments so far. Dh's family has myopia. Dh and both parents wear glasses. Recently his young nephew has also started wearing glasses. Would I have rejected a perfectly nice guy coz everybody in his family wears glasses? no way!!!Going by that he would have also rejected me coz of my family history. Choosing a bride or groom according to the family health is going to be really hard. Your friend is going to have a hard time finding a suitable groom. Where do you draw the line? What diseases are Ok and what are unacceptable. Also, should we just consider the groom, his parents, siblings or also other extended family members. In the first place it is hard to gather such information, then there are also chances of offending the other party. I can understand the parents concern if the groom has some major illness, but checking out the whole family history is ridiculous. It is true that people with illnesses like diabetes, asthma and cancer etc have a certain % chance of inheriting these diseases. But I also know of ppl who have no family history of illness getting them. A lot of illnesses are caused by lifestyle, weightgain, allergies, stress etc. Well, luck plays an important role too. Meanwhile I try to eat well, exercise, get regular check ups and keep my fingers crossed.
     
  4. Malyatha

    Malyatha Gold IL'ite

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    If the girl is myopic with a high power, then it is VERY hypocritical of her parents to specify that the groom's family should not have a history of myopia themselves! What if a potential groom rejects the girl for the sole reason that she needs glasses / contacts, which in turn, means that her children will probably also have poor vision and the groom does not want to deal with that?

    1. Are you aware of any such couple where either of their family has a history of any such illness or disorder? How is their married life? Esp children? Are they affected by the same disorder?

    A neighbor of mine has a congenital heart defect, which her parents never concealed from potential grooms and their families. This honesty, however, resulted in her being rejected by many grooms for this reason even though she is very good looking, highly qualified and a very well-employed professional. Eventually, she ended up marrying her Maama's son because her continuous rejection sent her parents spiraling into depression, and resulted in her declaring that she would remain single forever. At this point, her Maama stepped in and accepted her as his DIL. The couple has now been married for 24 years and have two healthy and very intelligent children. Both children, by God's grace, are not only very healthy with strong, robust hearts (touch wood) but are also brilliant academic achievers, pursuing advanced degrees in a first-world country. In addition, they have inherited their mother's gorgeous looks! The parents are obviously extremely proud of their children's intelligence, achievements and talent, and cannot *wait* to see them scale new heights.

    2. In case the child is unlucky to get the same illness as the parent or grandparent, does it lead to a decrease in the understanding between the couple? And do they opt NOT to have a second child because of the first child's situation?

    I don't understand why this should be. Who are we to play God? As a very dear friend of mine likes to say (and I quote her here), every child is born with his or her own destiny. If a person with a chronic health condition marries someone who does not, the healthy spouse is entering a marriage knowing fully well that his or her child stands a good chance of inheriting the other parents' health issues, too. So, why cause a ruckus after the fact? And, please remember that people do not ASK to be diabetic or asthmatic or myopic or whatever. It is something that happens to them and is out of their conscious control - in other words, being a diabetic or myopic is not the result of a lifestyle choice, but due to uncontrollable genetic tendencies. Furthermore, no parent would purposefully try to impose their own health weaknesses onto their offspring and the children's poor health is also not the direct result of a parent's choice or purposeful action. So punishing the spouse for something that is not beyond their control seems very, very, very cruel to me. If the person is THAT particular about ONLY marrying a 200% healthy person, then s/he should be upfront about it and keep searching instead of marrying someone with a compromised health and then punishing them for it later.


    3. We read in the papers about some gene therapy (gene selection to minimise the risk of contracting these illnesses in the baby). Is it done in practice anywhere in India? Or in USA? If yes, is it successful and how costly is it?

    No idea, so I cannot respond to, or comment on, this.

    4. Do you think it makes sense to impose such criteria while looking for a bride/groom?

    It does not sound unreasonable to me at all, and in fact, it is better to be upfront about these criteria BEFORE the marriage than to punish the spouse for not being 200% healthy after the fact.

    A few things to keep in mind, though, Sandhya:

    (1) Many chronic conditions do have a genetic component but lifestyle and environment also play a very strong role in affecting an individual's health. So, while one's desire to give their children a good health is admirable, the person needs to bear in mind that their children's health may ultimately not be in their (parent's) control at all.

    (2) A spouse may have some condition somewhere far back in their family tree and the repressive gene may get expressed in their children out of the blue. They may themselves not be even be aware that they are a career for X, Y or Z until their children develop X, Y or Z. What, then?

    (3) One needs to have a 'clean' family history oneself prior to imposing those conditions on a future spouse. Unless there is ZERO history of a chronic health condition in one's own family, then it is very hypocritical to expect it of others. This may, in fact, create some nasty fights after the marriage if such facts come to light, so proceed with caution.

    I do believe that it is very important to exchange health reports of bride-and-groom - in fact, I believe that it is more important to exchange medical reports of the couple getting married than it is to exchange horoscopes! However, this is just to make sure that either partner does not carry any contagious diseases (such as STDs etc) that can be spread to the spouse and ruin his or her life, too. If a spouse has a history of a family illness - such as cancer - it is good to know this and to be aware that the spouse may himself or herself develop it at some point of time in the future, but that should not make the other person any less desirable as a partner than someone whose family tree is 'clean' and devoid of such conditions.

    When my own kids get married, I would want to exchange my kids' medical and credit reports with those of their potential partners ... to me, these are more important to be aware of than spouses' Jadagams and nakshatrams! But other than that... let be and let God.

    JMO.
     
  5. sandu

    sandu Bronze IL'ite

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    Dear ASG, NewWoman and Malyatha,
    Thank you all for your quick and detailed replies. And for all the examples you have cited. It throws more light on the situation!

    I have also heard about the repressive gene; a distant relative (old lady) who sort of lost her senses - people said it was several generations back in the family...

    I too feel that my friend's parents are very picky, but was more moved on hearing the story of her cousin's child getting asthma; so I thought they are after all only careful.

    But as you have pointed out, it is not in our hands. Depends on luck to a great extent. And on the lifestyle and environment also, esp for asthma.

    Exchanging medical records is a new trend now. And one that seems a good idea too.

    Just one thing I wish to explain.
    Malyatha, that is because the child has an increased risk of getting myopia if both of them are myopic than if only one of them were myopic. That too, the girl has high power - she can see very little without specs, so they want to find a guy who has near perfect vision.

    Thanks again for all the info.
    Sandhya
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2009
  6. asuitablegirl

    asuitablegirl Gold IL'ite

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    Oh, I almost forgot! Since you mentioned eyeglasses....

    Before marriage I had 'good' vision. But after marriage my vision slowly started to get worse. Just recently I went to get my driver's license renewed and I could see all but ONE letter on the eye exam chart so they FAILED me. I had to come back with glasses and now on my license it says that I'm required to wear glasses when driving. Lately, I can feel my vision getting even worse so next year will probably go for lasik eye surgery to get my good vision back.

    Moral of the story... just because you start a marriage healthy and 'perfect' doesn't mean it will always be that way! Look at me and my goofy eyes! :bonk
     
  7. sandu

    sandu Bronze IL'ite

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    Oh no! What a pity! :eek:mg: I am glad you passed the exams finally!
    Exams... these exams!:shaking::hide:

    I hope your eyesight does not deteriorate any more. Time to munch on carrots :idea
    Cheers,
    Sandhya
     
  8. asuitablegirl

    asuitablegirl Gold IL'ite

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    You know Sandu, I eat carrots, take vitamins... I don't know why this happened to me! All my brother eats is nacho chips and soda and he has perfect eye sight!!! :rant

    Since we are talking about family genetics... I'll mention that my dad also needed glasses.

    Can't wait to get the eye surgery, but you know, it is little over $3,000! So I'm going to have to save up for it. :roll: Our insurance only covers a tiny part of it.

    About the myopic thing... I think after reading your latest post, your friend might be justified in wanting a guy who doesn't have eye problems if both parents having it would definitely cause their kid to have extreme vision issues. In a love/dating situation it might be hard to break off the relationship just because of eye problems, but in an arranged match where things can be discussed before strong emotion sets in... then maybe it's a good thing.
     
  9. drjp

    drjp Senior IL'ite

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    There is a difference between being aware of genetic risks that run in the family versus make that as a criterion for groom selection.

    It is perfectly fine and alright to get your SPOUSE's family history, but not a POTENTIAL SPOUSE's history.

    Marriage should be based on love, trust and compatibility not like picking the blemish less shiny tomato from vegetable market.

    I find using the health issues as selection criterion not only absurd, outrageous also outright insensitive to people that actually have those diseases:

    1) it is not uncommon for two perfectly healthy parents to give birth to kids with severe genetic disorders.

    2) most of these diseases like diabetes, high BP, asthma etc can be easily controlled and managed.

    3) if marriages are based on perfect genetics , less than 5% of the population will qualify :bonk:bonk

    4) over all the above reasoning, the basic fact that it is discrimination and lack of compassion for fellow human, is very disturbing. It shows that these guys have no respect or love for people with disabilities.

    5) what if a woman chooses the perfect blemishless tomato for husband and has a kid with downs in future?

    For all those that support this idea: what if you had child with juvenile diabetes (becoming increasingly common in Indian kids, even if did not run in the family) and someone came to you with a proposal like this? My answer; I will drive them and anyone that is related to them away from my world.

    There are a lot of better things to worry about in life then being paranoid to make their life a text book life.

    JMO,
    drjp
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2009
  10. kavya007

    kavya007 Gold IL'ite

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    Hi Sandhya,

    To answer your questions:
    - Are you aware of any such couple where either of their family has a history of any such illness or disorder? How is their married life? Esp children? Are they affected by the same disorder?
    There is a history of thyroid disorder (graves disease) in my husband's family. He suffers from it. Since hyperthyroid affects the person's behavior we have suffered greatly because of it. A lot of healing and understanding had to happen to get our life in shape again. It is still a work in progress. But my husband is really a great guy and I have no regrets marrying him. Marriages might break down due to severe illnesses. I don't know if my son may also get the condition. I hope not. But god knows what can happen to each of us at any time. I may be carrying a gene that increases my tendency to have Alzheimers or cancer. Who knows !!

    - In case the child is unlucky to get the same illness as the parent or grandparent, does it lead to a decrease in the understanding between the couple? And do they opt NOT to have a second child because of the first child's situation?
    Second situation is a possibility. But if the love, bonding and understanding between the couple is poor then the blame game will cause issues.

    - We read in the papers about some gene therapy (gene selection to minimise the risk of contracting these illnesses in the baby). Is it done in practice anywhere in India? Or in USA? If yes, is it successful and how costly is it?

    It was not offered to us at the time of my pregnancy.

    - Do you think it makes sense to impose such criteria while looking for a bride/groom?
    In an arranged marriage I feel its better not to marry into a complete stranger family where we have absolutely no information about the family. If some consistent illness patterns are seen its better to avoid such an alliance. My neighbors in India had a child who was mentally retarded. Every family in the extended network on the husband's side had a child who was mentally retarded. However there are no guarantees in life. Anything can happen to any of us. How many illnesses can the parents go on including in their search criteria.

    Regards,
    Kavya.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2009

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