Date: 2016-04-03 07:43 am (UTC)
Hmmmm.

Though I did not declare this at the time, in hindsight, we have agreed that the moment at which my not-related-to-me-by-blood sister became my sister was at one o'clock in the morning when she was sitting with me on the floor of my family's kitchen, chiseling linoleum off the floor. (My parents were redoing the kitchen. Stripping old flooring turned out to be a much bigger pain in the ass than anybody anticipated.) Chiseling up linoleum in the middle of the night is not a thing a guest to the house does; it's something a family member does. But I don't really mean that I define family by a willingness to perform physical labor, per se; it's more that family is where the formalities drop away. Family doesn't have to wait for you to offer them a drink, because they know they're free to just go get one out of the fridge themselves. (And this is part of why I don't quite feel like my in-laws are family: because when we come to visit, they're still offering me food and drink as if I were a guest. I know they don't mean that as a distancing act, but that's how it registers to my subconscious.)

"Partner" isn't a term I've thought about much. I think it implies mutuality to me in a way that "family" doesn't necessarily: partners are equals, co-invested in something (the relationship, daily life) on roughly comparable terms. Whereas with family, the relationship is often asymmetric (parents/children).
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