by  H. David Morrow

Much has been written lately about the tragedy of addiction to genealogy. While one must pity those afflicted with this malady, their own disorientation pales when compared to that of those who must live with geneaholics.

The geneaholic can seek counseling, can join a support group (often called a Society), and may soon even be able to get into a 12-step program. There is none of this for the spouse of a geneaholic.

Night after night, male spouses must endure cold dinners, if there are any at all. They must do their own washing in order to have enough underwear to wear to work. Their beds are only rarely made and the sheets changed only when threadbare.

If the spouse is older and has to make in-the-dark trips to the bathroom during the night, he or she must step carefully so as not to kick over a pile of papers. The real danger is slipping on a single piece of paper and breaking a hip.

The spouse must endure interruptions of sporting events on TV in order to hear about the discovery of a relative who was "not in my direct line, but a sister of the cousin of the sixth child of my great-great-great-grandmother's third husband."

Further, spouses are supposed to administer back rubs when the geneaholic has spent far too much time sitting in front of a keyboard and monitor. Spouses are also supposed to fix computer glitches that may arise from downloading megabytes of "relevant, relative" information. We are expected to drive to cemeteries, deliver film to and pick up pictures from the processor, make endless trips to the post office, take days off to visit obscure courthouses looking for sometimes elusive and mostly unreadable documents from the 1800s, and generally go to bed alone.

There are, however, some upsides. The only real household chores I must do, besides cook my own dinner, are replace light bulbs in my wife's desk lamp and change cartridges in her printer. (We started using paper plates when the dishwasher and sink both were filled to capacity.) I haven't emptied the trash since I learned about the addiction. I get to spend quality time with my dog, who never regales me with stories about related horse thieves and murderers.

I am considering starting a new organization called D.O.G.S., which stands for Despondents of Geneaholic Spouses. This is a good name because when the meeting notice comes, the mail person will think you are merely going to a group that appreciates dogs. The carrier won't, therefore, be able to inform all the neighbors that an addict lives on the block.

Besides, when I don't give full attention to my wife's e-mail from a cousin she never knew she had, when I am not ecstatic over a new piece of information, and when I don't accept her invitation to spend hours in the library looking at census films, she thinks I'm a dog anyway.

PERMISSION TO REPRINT articles from MISSING LINKS is granted unless stated otherwise, PROVIDED: (1) the reprint is not used for commercial purposes; and (2) this notice appears at the end of the reprint: Previously published in MISSING LINKS: Vol. 7, No. 8, 24 February 2002, and written by H. David Morrow, and

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