I have a French friend who wears a diamond on her left ring finger, owns a house with her mate, and has a 2-year-old son with him, too. You would think she's married, but she's not, and it has nothing to do with thinking a piece of paper is useless. Instead she's opted for a lighter version of marriage: a civil union.
The New York Times reported on the trend this week, noting that there are two civil unions (known as pacte civil de solidarité, or PACS) for each traditional marriage in France. Originally created in 1999 for gay couples, straight people now get them more often.
The pros include rights, like filing joint tax returns, without having to go through a messy and expensive legal battle to separate. All it takes is a simple registered letter to dissolve a PACS and avoid France's burdensome marriage and tax laws. The cons, besides not having a wedding, include the lack of an appropriate title to use for your legal partner. Since they're not husband and wife, I've noticed that the PACSed French people I know still refer to each other as boyfriend and girlfriend, which doesn't really seem to fit. Plus, it's less permanent than marriage, considering it's easier to get out of. But that's also why some people like it.
One thing's for sure, the wedding industry would fight this in America. Would you say "I do" to civil unions?
Source: Flickr User acousticskyy