I know too well the prejudice that exists out there when it comes to marriage. When people complain about how trapped they feel, how unnatural monogamy is, how hard it is to stay in love forever, or how unfair is it to one partner or the other, I know they are not talking about marriage as I define it, which is a sexy, wonderful thing. They are speaking of wedlock, which, in my definition, is the exact opposite. A great number of people are wedlocked, and are therefore miserable, thinking that the institution of marriage itself is to blame. This is not the case.
Wedlock is legal, formal marriage. Wedlock is two people who haven't slept in the same bed for ten years and haven't spoken for five. Wedlock is people who marry for citizenship. Wedlock is marrying someone you've never met because your parents say you should. Wedlock is two people who married hastily for beauty or sex or to get away from overbearing parents and who sit across from each other, years later, and watch their animosity for each other grow. Wedlock is any situation in which you are legally married, but not in love with your spouse. Bill and Hillary, now that's wedlock if I've ever seen it.
Wedlocked people don't have husbands and wives, they have spouses. Spouse, in our language, is used in only the most formal situations, on insurance forms and tax returns. It's fitting that we should use this word to describe loveless marriage partners. Spouse is a dreadful, ugly word - it sounds like a nervous little insect scurrying around in the dark. And for some people, that's exactly what they think their spouse is.
Wedlock, and the acquisition of a spouse, is what we should be afraid of, not marriage, not husbands and wives. If you find that marriage frightens you and you put off walking down the aisle as long as you can, realize that at least part of your trepidation may be that you don't understand the difference between these terms.
Talk to your lover, find out if he or she knows the difference. Find out if they feel the same way. A large misconception out there is that men feel terrified at the thought of being "trapped" into marriage while women welcome the prison bars with glee. How could that possibly be true? Do women want to be trapped, tied down, immobilized, any more than men do? When the baby is crying and the dishes are piling up and the husband just "has to get away" from all the domestic bliss, does it seem plausible that his wife wants to revel in it? Do you think a woman up to her ears in diapers and laundry doesn't wish she was single sometimes? Wedlock is damaging to both partners; men don't have the monopoly on feeling trapped. Perhaps your girlfriend is as afraid of wedlock as you are, and wants to make sure it doesn't happen to you.
So what's the solution? Don't take a "spouse". Marry only when you feel the desire to have a sexy, soulful marriage in the truest sense of the word. And if your marriage does disintegrate into wedlock, unlock yourselves. Divorce, and hold out for someone you really do want to be a husband or a wife to.