Duplicate marriages showing up

I recently created a group to keep a list of ancestors who were married more than once, but I am finding in the list ancestors who show two marriages to each other.

There are no duplicate records to merge or delete, no obvious family facts that have been entered twice. I have run the database through the gamut of integrity check, phantom records, rebuilding indexes, and compacting, and they still show up.

How does this happen, and more importantly, how can I clear them without deleting an entire record?

Exactly how did you create the group? Which is to say, what were the criteria for the group?

Dealing with the question of multiple marriages is trickier than it sounds. For example, John Doe could have married first Jane Smith and married second Susan Jones, either after his divorce from Jane Smith or else after Jane Smith’s death. But another option is that John Doe could have married Jane Smith, divorced Jane Smith, and remarried Jane Smith. I have one couple in my database who were married to each other three different times with divorces after the first and second marriages.

1 Like

by chance did you share any of the marr facts? (Not sure that would cause it) Also, confirming if family or individual fact was used

Select the option in Settings to display the record number with the name of the person.

A possibility other than @thejerrybryan 's examples is that the same two people have been linked as a couple (family) twice. Those are two different families according to the database design. A Marriage event could have been added to both couples. Each spouse would then have two Marriage events with the other spouse. You would need to unlink one of the couples.

The group was simple. I created an Ancestor File Number for each ancestor, and the first criteria is whether it exists or not. My siblings and I all have Ancestor File Number “0000001”, so I add the criteria to exclude it (AFN does not contain “0000001”), then the search allows me to search on “Number of Spouses”, and I set that to be greater than 1.

When I did that, a number of ancestors showed up on the list who were married only once, and when I looked at them, they had the same spouse twice.

I have no duplicate records for either spouse (no married twice to each other on the same day), not other single fact that would have been duplicated and cause this. No simple solution like having the record entered twice. But they both show each other as spouses twice, though there are not any duplicate records.

I found a couple of . . . couples who married, divorced, and remarried, and I simply created a new fact, “REMARRIAGE”; in GEDCOM it reads as MARRIAGE (I do not expect another software or another user would handle REMARRIAGE very well, so I transmit is as MARRIAGE), but since RMG does not like two marriages between the same individuals, I have the custom fact.

But that has nothing to do with this issue; the couple married in 1654.

I set the record number. No dupes. All Couple facts show the same person. I have unlinked and re-linked the couple without luck. I hate to have to delete someone’s record and re-add; they both have a number of individual facts, and they are not the only couple to have had this problem spring up.

I made no changes to this couple in the last few years, other than including them in some groups.

Could your person list be showing alternate names as well as primary names, thus appearing that you have the person listed twice? Just something to check.

And I just found the problem, though I am still at a loss to figure out why it would not show. It came from a cousin’s GEDCOM with errors. I thought I caught them all, but did not, but still do not know why this stayed invisible (I unlinked both spouses from each other and their children, and only then the bogus marriages showed up).

@PatrickR --one way to check to make sure you finally got them all is to go to Couple list and just scroll down–if there is more than one with the same date, it will show up there as well as ones married more than once…
Mine like yours probably came in because I incorporated a cousin’s file into mine…
Once you, find one, just check to see if part of the kids are under one couple and part under the other couple— if so, you will have to get all the kids linked under one couple then go to the other couple, UNLINK all kids 1st then UNLINK one of the spouses— just make sure you check the facts BEFORE doing this as sometimes there is more info in the facts under one couple than the other…

It turns out that a number of couples were LINKED as couples twice. I just used my “multiple marriages” group, which reduced the search to 94 people (as opposed to however many couples I might have among the 10,000 individuals in my database), and had the individual’s data window display Spouses.

I found several couples (three of whom were created by the GEDCOM) who were double-linked. It took three tries before I figured out how to correct it without pain. But I got them all done, and my "Ancestors with multiple marriages is down from 93 to 84 individuals (some showed links to “unknown spouse” and one or more of the same children with their real spouse).

When I only had a couple doubly linked, I would check to see if one of the links had no children (which usually happened), chose one spouse from that set and unlinked them from their spouse. I would then choose the other spouse, who would then show one “unknown spouse”, choose that, and unlink. Et voilà, ghost link is gone.

Thanks for the help. I would not have figured it without the suggestions of where to look. And I will be more careful if I accept another GEDCOM file in the future.

I have encountered the problem of couples who were linked to each other multiple times as well, but I found the problem and fixed it many years ago (or decades ago). My apologies for not remembering the problem a little better. It was just too long ago. I checked just now, and my database has not had this problem again since I fixed it so long ago.

The main reason my database has not had this problem again is that I quit importing GEDCOM years ago. All new data in my database is now typed in by hand. It turns out that RM does a pretty good job of preventing you from typing in your data in such a way as to create couples who are linked to each other multiple times. But as you found out, RM does not prevent you from importing this problem from malformed GEDCOM.

I suspect that the advice from nkess would be the best way to identify the problem, although looking at your problem couples with Descendant View set to 2 generations might also display the problem quite well as being couples who are linked multiple times. Descendant View set to 2 generations is a powerful tool for dealing with other aspects of this problem. For example, sometimes a couple who is linked to each other multiple times will have some of their children associated with one of the links and other of their children associated with the other of the links. In that case, getting the children relinked correctly can be a real mess.

This problem begs for a new RM tool, namely a tool that will identify this problem, and better still would be if the tool would also fix the problem. The fix would merge the multiple links for the same couple while at the same time putting all the children from the multiple families for the same couple into the same family. I think I could write an SQLite script that that would accomplish this task rather easily, but the tool really needs to be inboard to RM rather than being an outboard tool such an SQLite script. And better still would be for GEDCOM import (or TreeShare import or any other similar import) to merge identical families in the same manner so the problem can never arise in the first place.


It was an odd problem, and I believe it happened to me once before under a different circumstance; it was not actually caused by a bad GEDCOM as much as having assimilated the GEDCOM without being more careful of duplicate records that were only NEARLY duplicate. It was actually when I merged records that most of the problem arose.

As seldom as it does happen, one cannot be expected to remember a solution from the top of one’s head. I could not even come up with terminology that would make an effective search through past discussions.

If I ever accept another GEDCOM file, I will do a few experiments with it before pulling in the data. Any records from said file that I decide to merge will be stripped of all similar facts beforehand.

As I think further about it, merging is probably a more likely cause than is malformed GEDCOM per se.

Hello @PatrickR
I think you should manually verify the details and make sure there are no hidden links available. You can take help from the genealogy software.

One should be very careful about adding gedcom files to your existing database. Like Jerry Bryan, I retype by hand information I use from someone else’s files. Even then I have managed to get duplicated families, particularly when families use different spellings of surnames.

I actually figured an easier way to manually check. RMG has some search criteria that are not among the fields to put in a report: number of siblings, number of children, and number of sets of parents.

Instead of trying to weed through ALL the people with multiple marriages (there were close to 400 in my database), I searched on number of sets of parents. I have eight such people legitimately (primarily through adoption), but found four more that had to be culled.

I think this is where the problem occurs: I merge duplicate records for one individual, and they cause the parents to be linked twice. I unlinked the phantom parents from each other, and now have a clean(er) database.