The sun was a radiating orange when mon chéri and I took the 25 minute walk to the Notaire. I was in shorts and a dressy top; he was in jeans and a tee-shirt. What can I say? We were meant for each other. 😉
On June 15, 2015, my boyfriend and I entered into a PACS (Pacte Civil de Solidarité) contrat. I’ve mentioned our pact here, here, and here. But, I’ve yet to discuss the confusion that comes with entering into a civil union – confusion brought on by a mariage-focused société.
For exemple, mon chéri is no longer my “boyfriend” – by signing a contrat, in front of a notaire, vowing to love one another and to live together for the rest of our lives, we’ve taken our relationship to another level. By asking, “how’s your boyfriend?” You demote our relationship. I cringe every time I hear this question – hell, every time I hear someone use “boyfriend” to refer to mon chéri. But, I don’t blame you for using it because you don’t know what to use in its place.
What can you use? I struggle with this one. Before the school year started, I was calling mon chéri, “my partner”. The problème with this is that it invokes “same-sex” relationships. So, people are surprised when I follow a “my partner” sentence with, “he…” In France, no one understood why I used this term. At the lycée, students asked, “ok, so, that means he’s your boyfriend?”
My neighbor calls him, “ton mari,” your husband. At first, I personally didn’t accept this title because I was under the impression that he hadn’t earned it yet (aka we aren’t married). I accepted that it was her title to use because, let’s face it, we really are husband and wife with or without the church saying so. So, while we’ve already pledged our love in front of a notaire, we haven’t yet done so in front of a priest. But, after months of “how’s your husband?,” I realize that he doesn’t need to spend tons of money on a ring nor declare his love for me in front of a priest to be called my husband. We declared our love in front of God the day we fell in love. I don’t think I’d call him my husband while in the U.S. (as it would confuse a lot of people), but it certainly makes things easier in France to use the term – especially since PACS is exactly like mariage in that it’s an option on governmental papers (so, “my PACS husband” works out very well). I have opted for the term ‘my fiancé‘ when explaining my relationship with my students; however, I’m not sure if this would be an acceptable term to use in the U.S. Since there’s no ‘ring’ obligation. And, sadly, a lot of Américains agree.
Thankfully, in France, we have all of these options (with the exception of adoption as a couple*) through our PACS. It amazes me that so many Américains don’t want civil partnerships to have the same rights as married couples. I don’t understand the “validité” of this argument in a société that is supposed to have a separation between religion and state. After all, not every couple has the same religious beliefs and not everyone is ready to spend the money on an extravagant church wedding. Sometimes, a civil union is just more logical and practical.
So, we’ve gone the PACS route. And, sadly, I still haven’t found a good term to use. So, if you have any ideas…please comment!
*A PACS couple has the right to adopt, but not as a couple, instead one personne from the union would complete the adoption. ♦
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