TILL DEATH DO US PART
by H. David Morrow FuzzyGem@worldnet.att.net
(Previously published in MISSING LINKS Vol. 7, No. 12, 24 March 2002) http://www.petuniapress.com/
If you contemplate marriage, find out first if your intended is involved in genealogy. Can s/he spell it correctly? If the answer is yes, don't bother to assess the strength of the involvement at the moment. It doesn't matter. Genealogists have an addiction that waxes and wanes. Your meeting and falling in love might just happen to coincide with a lean time in your future mate's research. (Genealogists may refer to this condition as "hitting a brick wall.") Should anything re-ignite the interest, it means trouble. Worse, you don't know when or from what direction that "anything" will appear.
You see, a secret that all genealogists keep to themselves is simply this. Because of their disease, the marriage vows mean different things to them than to you.
Consider the phrase "till death do us part." Overcome by love, you think that this refers to your death or to the death of your spouse. That is the generally accepted meaning, but genealogists are not generalists. So, one day you discover that you and your spouse are separated due to the death 100 years ago of some potential relative. The mere hunch that this person from another era might be an ancestor causes your spouse to spend endless hours poring over microfilm in the library or use up all the time you are allowed by your Internet Service Provider. (Remember your spouse clearly and distinctly said, "We'll NEVER use the computer 150 hours a month. If I spent that much time on the computer, I'd never have time to work [or cook, clean, or wash clothes]. We wouldn't have the time to go to a movie, read a book, or watch that expensive Cable TV you signed up for.")
The upside to marrying a genealogist is that your mate really wants togetherness -- at a cemetery, looking for grave stones. You are needed in this endeavor because it takes less time to find a stone if two people are looking. This gives you and your spouse a golden opportunity to spend quality time together -- at opposite ends of a large plot of land -- just the two of you and pieces of marble and granite. Some of these stones will be flat on the ground, and you might hurt your back from bending over trying to decipher the writing. This gives you an excuse to get a back rub from your beloved.
Unless s/he finds the stone s/he is looking for. In that case, during the entire drive back home you will hear a monologue about the deceased. Further, upon arriving home, your spouse will immediately go to the computer. First the new information must be input to a genealogy program. Then at least 14 people have to be e-mailed to tell them about the newest information while instead of enjoying a back rub, you sit alone watching Cartoon Central or Animal Planet on Cable TV.
By the way, that's the only upside. If you want to spend more time together, learn how to fix the library's copy and microfilm machines; learn how to read the abysmal handwriting on the 1880 census; or help your spouse sort old family photos.
Otherwise, find a support group; take an adult education course in plumbing or computer repair; or, riskiest of all, start researching your family. Choosing this last option, however, means you have caught the bug.