Sonntag, 13. Januar 2013

What if they never got married?

Sometimes you find that your ancestor was involved with somebody else for years or maybe even decades. Some people want to keep their widow's annuity, others just choose to live together without ever walking down the aisle.

So what do you do? Do you enter that significant other into your family tree? 

And if you do - when?

Genealogy is about how people lived, not how maybe you want them to have lived their lives. If someone didn't get married, they had their reasons which you have to accept. Often enough it's well worth looking into these reasons, even if it means that you might have to do some legal research.

In my case, I was confronted first-hand with that problem when I entered data about the person I knew most about: Myself. My significant other and I have been together since 1995.

I thought about entering him into my family tree for years. After about five years of heavy thinking, I finally entered him. My reason was simple: Though we never got married, he's an important part of my life. A very important part. And I guess in some ways, I feel more "married" than other women who are.

This was New Year's Eve, by the way. Or let's better say: A few minutes past midnight. (Usually, I don't wear paper streamers, especially not in yellow.) It was pretty windy outside, and everyone else was setting off all kinds of various firework articles.

The good thing is that my software allows me to to enter him as a "partner" instead of a "husband". If we should ever get married, I could simply switch our status. Which will probably not happen, but I could do it with three clicks. 

Many of my generation (I was born in 1973) will live together with someone without getting married. I just need to look around my own friends. We are the first generation that don't feel social pressure to have to walk down the aisle... at city hall (in Germany, you need to see a civil registrar to get married legally. If you want to get married in church, you can have that as well - afterwards.). We are free to choose.

This doesn't make it easier to compile a family tree, I know. When is a relationship "worthy" of appearing in the tree and not just as a footnote in someone's biography? 

You now know how I answered that question for myself. Oh, and I had another reason for entering my "partner": If one day, for example in a hundred years, someone who didn't know me personally will look at my family tree, they won't think of me as "that old spinster"...

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