Is this the correct way to display an extramarital affair?

+4 votes

The marriage location has been utilized for this sentence:  extra-marital relationship. 

I have to ask because I am uncertain whether there was a change in the way it should be done



WikiTree profile: Charl Prieur du Plessis
in Genealogy Help by Louis Heyman G2G6 Mach 9 (99.1k points)
retagged by Louis Heyman

Louis, please see your previous comment back in 2016 regarding this same issue:

Yes it is not ideal. Not protocol. Yet this issue has not yet been aptly adressed by WikiTree; the point being that some relationships - as for example concubinal - need to be clarified in data fields; moving those relationships to the biographies will not show in searches and in the process of collating data. 

Also see and other threads on for example same sex marriages:


Unfortunately the data fields of WikiTree cannot accomodate an index of names and potential relationships in the fashion that the forum of Robertson, Delia. The First Fifty Years Project. does, as for example with

Hi Phillip,

I do not see what the point is to refer me to another conversation. I participated in that conversation. Still does not change WikiTree style rules. Maybe you could elaborate whether there was a style change that location fields may be applied in this way.
However, if a man and his Concubine/ extra-marital affair/ illegitimate wife have issue, it will show them linked through that like it properly should.

The point of marriage was a religious institution for legitimizing bloodlines that was taken over by the state. (And now ironically people say religion should stay out of it) They had a word for children born outside this construct but it is NOW considered a bad word.

You CAN have more than 1 marriage at the same time. It will error and you can mark it as a false error. But concubines and affairs don't really fit in the "Marriage" field.
Philip, I have to agree with Steven here - and disagree with you that WikiTree has not addressed these types of relationships. It actually seems that you have used a data field (and a form) outside of its intended purpose.

I have to disagree here with you Steven H. - Valerie states it aptly in her comment(s) below: Its biology that drives this enterprise, not legalities or social conventions; our faithful programme writers will catch up eventually.

If WikiTree can create extra buttons for DNA confirmation (read: facilitate serious DNA research), it can also facilitate the correct naming of relationships outside of marriage with extra buttons in the data fields, where it is also visible in the bigger algorithmic tree. See this profile (one of the many now in our project that relies on DNA research): (note that the location field in this instance was not used to denote the type of relationship; the relationship still needs to be in a what is up till now only a data field for marriages).

WikiTree is for me a wonderful - stunning - platfom for genealogy and for complimenting the research on other sites, such as the previously named The First Fifty Years Project. ( I have said it a few times before - the combination of algorithm and dna-research (which I still sadly understand little of but gladly embrace) with scholarly primary validation of genealogical collated data, collaborated [or not] by secondary sources, is (in my humble opinion) the Unique Selling Proposition of WikiTree. 

The last few days I have again been wanting to state my gratitude to be part of such an Enterprise; I do appreciate immensely the hard work of maintenance of it by it's leadership and the innovative additions over the years, even when extremely disruptive at times (boiler plates for example). The error data base is one such addition that I find extremely helpful. 

To the point - WikiTree also rocks! Up to a point, when it does not serve genealogy because of policy. Then it frustrates - and we are for years now trying to work around those frustrations (such as the use of more than one name in the first name fields because certain cultures do not know the concept of a middle name). And still we love WikiTree, while being direct and honest about it. And patient, as leaders have been so patient with the countless of users of the years.

As Valerie said the program writers will catch up eventually - where there is insight and understanding, innovation must follow. In these times of great strides in technological advances, a "No" is simply not an adequate answer to reasonable requests such as extra buttons on the type sexual relations (which all biological relations are born out of), in the data fields.

4 Answers

+16 votes
I don't believe that is the correct way. Locations should have a physical place not a relationship. It should be in the Biography section.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (556k points)
Thank you for the opinion Doug. I think we need input from leadership here..
Doug is correct. Location fields should not be used for anything but locations.  Thanks!
Hi Eowyn, please correct me if I;m wrong. You say should, does that mean they can be used for something else but it is prefered not to be so?

Eowyn, that may be but the issue is not adressed. Chris stated in previous threads that an extra field is not possible. For example here … and here … And there are still thousands of profiles in this project alone still waiting to be created (slaves for example) with similar situations. For historical research (in this the COGH might be more serious - or rather less dismissive - than the rest of WikiTree) it is important that another field be created for other relationships, whatever they are. This is an issue that is not going to go away. But I'm not going to argue with policy; there is too much work - and serious research - that needs to be done. 

See my comment here Doug.

+11 votes

An extramarital affair is a relationship outside of a legal marriage - and when a child is involved - those types of relationships are already covered on Help:Unmarried Parents.

Now, the Help page mentioned above can be a bit confusing because it is short and doesn't seem to give any clear directions; however, the information is there and is the current policy:

There's nothing on WikiTree that requires the father and mother of a person to be married. Marriages and parent-child relationships are recorded separately.

In this instance, the child born to this affair would be connected to the Father and to the Mother - but the Father and Mother would not be connected through the "Marriage" section. They can be reference through the Biography field if that is an important note, but they are (and were not) legally married.

Now, I know that other conversations have been going back and forth (such as those Philip linked) for a while now, but the current policy is that they would not be linked in this manner, since this marriage field is talking about the legal act of marriage, not the act of having a child together.

by Steven Harris G2G6 Pilot (775k points)
Hi Steven, thank you for your reply. One question though, since you say that you have been following these conversations, and it has been several years. Has WikiTree got anything planned to adjust or change this approach?
The way all of the conversations have left off, It would be a shock to me if they had plans to change the policy or marriage forms. We can already handle 98% of the data (or more) for most relationship types that matter from a genealogical standpoint, so I don't see a need that could possibly arise where this policy and form and needed to be changed.
Nice 98% there. Even if true it still would be 358 419 of the current profiles not catered for.
I don't understand what the problem would be?
People are important. Even if they do not act like the majority We should have consideration for all of them.
98% was obviously just an estimation, and has no real basis. My question would instead be:  What specific relationship type would be genealogical relevant and cannot currently be handled in WikiTree?
Only married couples can be seen on the profiles of each other unless of course as Philip did, he sort of "forced" a relationship as a marriage where there was none
A user can easily add links in the biography section to another profile. No, it will not show in a daa field - but I don't see that as an issue at all. And in this case, you are correct - the connection was 'forced' when there was not an actual connection - and the entire marriage entry should be removed.
So when people open the profile they see only the married wives and the children. The mothers of some of the children cannot appear on the top section of the profile just because they were not married to the man. This creates at first glance not only a deception to the reader but is it fair to the children?

So when people open the profile they see only the married wives and the children. The mothers of some of the children cannot appear on the top section of the profile just because they were not married to the man.

That is correct. Legal wives, and all children that he fathered, no matter if he was married to the mother of the child or not.

This creates at first glance not only a deception to the reader but is it fair to the children?

I am not seeing how this would be a deception or unfair to the child. If you wanted to know the parents of person X, would you not go to person X's profile?

I think where people are getting caught up is in the 'dotted line' relationships. For each person profile here on WikiTree, we are looking to connect each person through the use of legal or biological relationships. This is the same reason that my step-siblings will not show on my profile - because there is no biological relation between us, and we are only "related" through the legal marriage of our parents to each other.

You just said two opposites. "Legal or blood" and then you said you cannot see your stepchildren, but they are legal. In fact blood takes precedence over legal. Is that not so?

Edit: You are right Step-siblings in stead of stepchildren. Still does not change the point that Blood takes precedence over Legal. Think of DNA and WikiTree.
Louis, please read that again - I said step-siblings.
I have no dog in this hunt, but I believe a different issue is portability. Like it or not, the now-dated GEDCOM format is still the only expedient way to move tree data from one repository to another. Other than manual profile copying, it's the only way for us as individual WTers to backup our tree data. WikiTree already strays from the standard by placing most of the information into GEDCOM "notes" fields (that's where everything in the biography box has to go), but at least the core, fundamental data transfers (mostly) intact. If we start making fundamental field changes that are unique to, and only visible in, WikiTree, we'll lose, IMHO, a critical portability aspect. Every data repository and every website is vulnerable to data loss or failure; I for one would never expend energy working on a tree that has a single point of failure.
Edison, to be fair - I don't think WikiTree is meant to be a primary repository for family trees or to be portable. Many of the more advanced users here will use other stand-alone systems to keep their primary data.
Steven, no need to debate this Gedcom issue. Chris said it will be fixed but is not a priority at the moment.
+6 votes
I have done the same thing with with one of my own family profiles

The cousins from this relationship are well loved and fully integrated within the family though all living so not entered here. It is very important that they have access to and can identify with their family biographies in WT as easily as those family members from the earlier marriage - one does the best that one can with what is offered to work with.

"Informal" is not a location - we do need to be able to select this option

Here is one profile that really does need such an option; there are long discussions about who she did marry which are immaterial to the number and importance of her offspring who made such an impact in 12th c. Western Europe. Not all have have connected profiles yet. There's lots of needed doing here - anyone at a loose end and looking for a fascinating project to tackle?
by Valerie Willis G2G6 Pilot (119k points)

It is important for children to know about their ancestors. It gives them a sense of who they are. When they open their mother's profile , it is important that they see their father or their grandfather in the case of the grandmother and not an empty [spouse?] 

Louis, I disagree. See my comment above.

Its biology that drives this enterprise, not legalities or social conventions; our faithful programme writers will catch up eventually.
There are other types of relationships that aren't explicitly covered. The marriage field doesn't provide for distinguishing marriage by banns, by license or common law (all legal forms). It doesn't cover by church or by civil authority. Some people care about that. I think the Bio is where that type of detail goes. As long as the parent-child relationships exist, the important relationship exists (from my perspective and opinion).
I believe that, because we have the option to "do not display" spouses or relationships we do not wish to recognise; its perfectly appropriate to display those alternative relationships a family deems important.
+7 votes
It seems to me there will always be some ambiguity here, and we'll have to work around the WikiTree policy that we have a data field place for marriages and no equivalent place for non-marriages.  There are children born of passing relationships of no standing.  Those children are linked to a mother and to a father in the data field, but their mother and father only had an accidental relationship with each other, and that should not be reflected in the data field.  That is the technically correct way of showing nonmarital relationships and the children they produce.  In medieval times there was actually a considerable degree of acceptance of such relationships, especially the progeny of royalty;  frequently people whose surname at birth was "Fitz-roy" -- child of the king -- were the products of such relationships.  I just came across a medieval duke's wife who eventually married the duke but who initially was a "maiden of the bed-chamber."  Interesting.  

On the other side, marriage itself can be  ambiguous.  I spoke to someone once whose job was processing US social security applications for survivors, some of whom had never legally married.  One question she asked the person was, "did you ever visit Pennsylvania as a couple?" and then, "did you ever sign the motel register as Mr. and Mrs?"  If so, she could interpret them to have had a common-law marriage recognized by Pennsylvania, and be eligible for federal survivor's benefits.  So I suspect that the relationships on WikiTree currently shown as a marriage may include a variety of relationships, and ultimately there is a degree of judgment that the profile manager has to make.  

But probably you won't find a line for "maiden of the bed-chamber" in the WikiTree data field any time soon.
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (478k points)

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