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Can A Genetic Test Assure A Good Marriage?

I re-read his email several times. "I cannot marry you unless you agree to take a genetic test that will determine whether you will get Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease, just like your mom." My eyes refused to believe what I was reading. I had been with him for two years. Since day 1, He knew that my mom had contracted AD at 42 and died at 49.

Tears of rage streamed down my face. I howled, deep in pain. I was not only betrayed, but also paralysed by fear. I hadn’t thought about the genetic implications of my mother’s Alzheimer’s. I was so busy dealing with the trauma of being a mother to my mother and then losing her, that I forgot I could be next in line.

Alzheimer’s disease has affected five members of my family - My maternal grandmother, her sister, my mom and now my mom’s brother. My mom got it the earliest. I was sure I didn’t want to take the test and know if I had the gene mutation! It would be like sitting on a time bomb. I was 28. If I had to get AD exactly at the age mom did, I had only 14 years to live.

I decided to give up on him. It was then that my dad asked me, “Were you scared when mom was beginning to show those signs?” I said, “Hell yea!” Dad simply said, “And you want him to not be scared, just be there for you. Not worry about the unknown. Not worry about losing you.” Dad had hit home.

I knew I had to help my boyfriend overcome his fear and learn about AD. I told him to assume that I would get AD in my 40s. But I would also educate him; help him recognize the signs, train him on whom to ask for help – but would he be willing to give me the happiest 14 years of my life, till then?

He cried and said, “Yes.”

The 21st century is going to see a sharp rise in the incidence of Dementias. A genetic test tells you whether you are at risk, but it cannot tell you whether you will get it for sure or when.

It is important for us as a generation to have our values in the right place. Life is about right now. Not tomorrow. Teach love. Not fear.


It is sad that many lives are molded and structured through the thought of fear and not the attitude of hope. When we use fear as our guideline we stop experiencing the world for what is fully is. We don't utilize ourselves to what we truly can be. You have brought an inspirational message with you through this entry.

Henri_1681's picture

Attitude of Hope

I like that :) Yes, hope is not a feeling, but an attitude. I loved my mother. And if I had a choice of being her daughter again knowing that she would go through what she went through, I would still choose that! Love should be greater than fear, because it inspires hope! It transforms a wrong world into the right. Thank you for reading and taking the time out to comment.

Aurore's picture

My lovely grand aunt has

My lovely grand aunt has Alzheimer, and though she is not as young as your mother was, I know how much it is painful to see someone you love drowning in this. Thanks for writing this very simply but also powerfully. I feel really moved by your lines...wish u the best with your health and your future husband.
And whatever the result of the test may be, enjoy everyday of life.

Henri_1681's picture

Aurore, thank you for reading

Aurore, thank you for reading my post. I can only imagine how hard it is to see someone really lovely withdrawing more and more into an unknown world owing to Alzheimer's. My prayers are with you and your family, and of course your aunt. I don't know what my future holds, but I know that I want the present to be really happy and simple. P.S. I won't take the test :)

BushraS's picture

Your post and carripence's

Your post and carripence's comment has brought a new thought in my head. My maternal side of the family suffers from various forms of clinical depression. I struggle with the thought (read: dread) of passing it on to my children. But like carripence said, fear stops you from experiencing life. This is something I will try to remind myself in future. Hope and love is worth focusing on, not fear and dread.

Thank you for sharing your story. Be happy.


Henri_1681's picture

Dearest B, Yes, many

Dearest B,

Yes, many illnesses have a genetic factor...but it is also proven that most illnesses can be prevented or reduced in intensity if one is allowed to experience a relaxed, comfortable and peaceful environment where an individual has a wide scope of exploring one's being and intelligences. Stimulate creativity and laughter in your children and they will have a reason to live. I know that's how I was saved from an early depression in my 20s.

God bless you and your family, especially your uncle, may he find joy in the smallest things life brings forth;



Cara Lopez Lee's picture


What a powerful story. At first I thought what your boyfriend wrote was terrible. But as I considered your father's wise words, I remembered that before I got married I had similar fears about my husband and the severe depression that had killed his father. His dad had stopped taking care of himself, leading to dehydration and malnutrition, leading to pneumonia, leading to complications, ending in a total system breakdown. Wow. I never wrote my future husband an email or letter about my fear, but we had talked about it before, and I did have to process it.

My husband occasionally has dark moods, and its possible that in his 60's it could worsen. But most of the time we do find that we're living the happiest years of our lives. With luck, that will continue for a long time to come. Many people spend a lifetime without ever finding the right partner. We're very lucky.

I wish you and your sweetheart all the best. And here's hoping, whatever happens in your distant future: that science finds ways to mitigate or halt Alzheimers before then, and in the meantime, that your present is bright.

Henri_1681's picture

Dearest Cara, Thank you for

Dearest Cara,

Thank you for sharing your story! I am touched. I can imagine how terrible it must be to fear losing your husband to depression, especially when he has one of his dark moods. But it is at times like those that people who have dark moods truly appreciate having someone to love them and accept them and not let them drown. I am so glad you've said that you're spending the happiest years of your life right now. It fills me with hope and courage.

I do hope that your husband remains healthy and happy and content with you, his wonderful wife.



Jamila.Thomas's picture

Finding a way

I don't know much about Alzheimer's but I do know courage and facing your fears . I want to thank you for sharing this because noone knows when they will leave here but there is much we can do to empact those we love and those we come across. I will say because of your story it makes we want to learn more about the disease and it's causes.

As a mother of a child who has a rare disease it eases the mind to have information and a great support system. I am glad that you guys( boyfriend) have each other and over time come together to ease each others fears although things may get harder it lesses the pain and effect if you have someone to go through the trial with you. the best thing to combat fear is information, so you are doing the better thing and so is he by willing to stay. Who knows how long you will be here or if you actually get AD but in return you will get a sense of belonging plus a relationship that can be more secure and grounded in the values that you guys set forth.

to answer the question Can genetic testing ensure a good marriage? No, but what it can do is set the groundwork for open commnication which sets the tone that makes things easier when it comes to other topics like raising children, disease and other things.

Henri_1681's picture


Thank you for reading my story. I am sure you can empathize. My prayers are with you and your baby. My problem is not with genetic testing per se, but with people who think they can use it to determine the marriage suitability of another person. There has to be some sanctity in things like marriage. Else, it's like going to the market and buying something. I am now looking to enroll my sister and me and my niece for a genetic study. Information helps, I agree, and so I am going to my best to educate my boyfriend/fiance about the same.

Now I am sitting here somewhere in Ukraine and feel so proud and happy for you that you probably can not even imagine how happy I am for you and your better half! Life is too difficult and incredibly unpredictable to say what it will be tomorrow and what problems you may face with. But when we have someone who really cares, even if this care is strange from the first side for us, but then...I am really happy that the right person is by your side.

Henri_1681's picture

Thanks :)

That is such a sweet email! You made me smile. God bless you and keep you smiling!

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