As of about a month ago, Edd and I have been PACS’d for one year. Looking back through my archives, I realized that I didn’t even mark this event with a post here. I suppose that’s good evidence of the fact that it just wasn’t a grand affair for us, and how unlike getting married it was for us. Jeez!
For those of you not in France or just wondering what I’m even talking about, PACS stands for pacte civile de solidarité. The wikipedia page on it lays out things very well, but essentially, the PACS is a civil union. Many bi-national couples faced with the dilemma of staying in the same country get married to get a visa, but in France at least, the PACS is another option, and the option that suited us best. I’ll get to why later on in this post.
I missed our official anniversary to make a post about this, but to begin with, we’re not really big anniversary celebrants. With the great news announced in California this week concerning Prop 8, there has been lots of news and ideas brewing about marriage and all its changes. I think it’s a fascinating time, and the articles coming out of this are really interesting: engaging gender issues, the economy, changing generational attitudes, etc. I found myself reading three articles the other day that I wanted to share with you all.
First off, I stumbled upon (no pun intended) Nona Willis Aronowitz’s piece at GOOD magazine: I Wish I Wasn’t Married: In Defense of Domestic Partnerships for Straight Couples, and many things she says resonated with me. Then a little bit later, while skimming the headlines on the Atlantic, I saw this article: The Marriage Problem: Why Many Are Choosing Cohabitation Instead. And then this one: The Death (and Life) of Marriage in America. So, click away and read those for a bit….
…OK! I want to get this out there. I’m not against anyone getting married. I do feel a part of this generation that is a bit more slow to do so. I never was the kind of girl to daydream about my wedding. When Edd and I started figuring out how the heck I was going to stay in France, just getting married for the papers was definitely something we discussed. But, I didn’t like that idea – deep down, I knew that marriage was a romantic thing for me, fraught with many ideas and stereotypes and intimidating ideas of foreverness. I still need time to figure out what that means for me. And luckily, he’s not in a rush to do that either.
So the PACS. It’s just right for us right now and I’m very happy that this option was available to us. I jokingly call it, marriage light. When we went to our rendez-vous, we just had to walk a few blocks up the street as it turns out that we live not far from the courthouse where such business is taken care of. We had an appointment, went into a pretty nondescript office meeting with your average nice civil servant lady, and signed our contract. The whole thing was a bit strange as its so new (only 11 years old in France) and so different from marriage, yet so close? – no one is sure about the ceremony and traditions tied to it. And for many couples, it is what you make it; some couples bring friends and cameras and flowers, others roll out of bed in their jeans and just sign with no fanfare whatsoever.
We were a little bemused ourselves, not really sure what it meant to us. It was pretty much for the administrative benefits, but we really do love one another and it still seemed to be a milestone in our relationship. Do we dress up? Will we want to take pictures? Should we kiss after signing the papers? Pop some champagne?
I put on a dress and he wore a dress shirt. (Only to feel pretty self-conscious in the waiting room with plenty of other folks there to accomplish other administrative affairs staring at us like “why are you all dressed up???“) We snapped a few photos to send to our parents. We definitely had some champagne – Who would miss an occasion to drink any? – and went to one of our favorite bistros for lunch (though it was in no way romantic as it was the business man 40-minute in-and-out special). Later that night we went out with a few friends for drinks and dinner. And that was that. PACS’d.
I sometimes forget all about it, I love that it’s not a thing, not a big deal. We’re now officially boyfriend and girlfriend. But I also love the idea of solidarity built into the name. We’re in this together! We’re a team!
And maybe one day, sure, we might get hitched. So the title of this post should probably read: Why I’m Not Married Yet – I’m a never say never girl, and one day my mind will probably change. Or maybe we’ll decide to move to the US and where our PACS wouldn’t be recognized. But for now, I like where we are and I really love that the idea of marriage and all the shades of gray in relationships are getting more attention and more legitimacy.