Being the youngest of five siblings, with relatively old parents, I’ve always referred to my aunts and uncles as such, even though in fact only one of each pair is a blood relative. It never occurred to me as a child that in fact Uncle Ron was my father’s brother, but Aunt Pat was related to me only via marriage to Ron. So is she really my aunt?
I raise this because I’m in a situation where I’ve married a woman whose brother has a young son. He was age two when we were first acquainted, and as his aunt and I were not married I was, quite reasonably, not given immediate uncle status. His aunt and I have since married, however, so does this mean I should now be referred to as his uncle?
For some reason I feel uncomfortable referring to him as my nephew — I have other nephews and nieces via my own siblings — so I usually resort to “my wife’s nephew” or “my wife’s brother’s son”.
Any thoughts on this issue of when aunt–uncle status is acquired? Is marriage a precondition? Does the marriage need to predate the birth of the niece–nephew?