Nobody batted an eye when François Hollande became the first president of France to be in a common law relationship rather than a formal marriage. After all, one is an exact substitute for the other is the trendy thinking among worldly adults, n’est-ce pas? Yet, Mr. Hollande’s recent announcement – “I wish to make it known that I have ended my communal life with Julie Trierweiler” – shows a fundamental difference between a real marriage and a common law union.
A little over a week after it was revealed he was having an affair. The speed with which the split happened shows one of the pitfalls of a common law union compared with marriage. After all, Mr. Hollande is not the first world leader to have an affair. Recall Bill Clinton’s tawdry fling with Monica Lewinsky when he was president of the United States. While straining his relationship with first lady Hillary Clinton – he was red faced not only from embarrassment, according to White House staff – it is noteworthy that their marriage survived and indeed seems stronger today. Faced with a similar crisis as Mr. Hollande and Mr. Trierweiler, the Clinton union did not rupture in a matter of days.
This is because ending marriage vows is inherently different than for a common law union. There is more likely to be discussion and attempts at reconciliation after a couple has publicly committed to their relationship surrounded by ‘custom and ceremony’ in the words of W.B. Yeats.
By Andrea Mrozek the full post is Living together v. marriage