KATE SIEGEL The actress and screenwriter is best known for her firm footing in the horror genre, collaborating with her filmmaker husband Mike Flanagan on films such as Oculus, Hush—which she also co-wrote—and anthology series The Haunting. Her current Netflix streaming trifecta: new miniseries Midnight Mass, anthology series The Haunting of Bly Manor, and the thriller film Hypnotic. Here, she gives a poignant answer to our reader’s question about marriage in the modern era.
Do women nowadays feel that marriage is overrated? Would women find that having a long-term partner is more adaptable than being married? A loaded two-part question! T.R.
Obviously, I can’t speak for all women, but I can speak for myself. My marriage is one of the most precious and satisfying parts of my life, and I can’t imagine a world without it.
Now, I understand that my situation is unique. My husband Mike and I create together. We work together; we raise kids together, and we generally spend most of our time together. But that all stems from one indisputable fact.
We really, really like each other.
I know that sounds corny and obvious, but stick with me.
When I was dating around in my twenties, I dated a lot of people that I thought were “good for me” or “my family really liked them” or “I didn’t dislike them enough to end the relationship,” and during that time, I was one of those women who didn’t know if marriage was for me. I was content to be partnered, and wasn’t sure that I needed a ring or a ceremony to prove my commitment.
Then, two things happened. First, I started to get really involved in the marriage equality fight. I learned about the legal protections of marriage and heard first-hand stories of same-sex partners who were kept away from their loved one’s bedside at death. Who had their homes, finances and children taken away after their partner died because there was no legal protection for “life partners.” I started to learn why marriage as an institution was worth fighting for.
And then I met Mike.
Our relationship, because of our collaborations, is partially public. But some of it we chose to keep private. And so, without going into graphic details, I will say Mike and I had to make very hard choices to be together. And then we had to deal with the consequences of those choices. We gave up a lot to be together, and we gained our whole world (which we built from scratch).
And what I learned during that time was that our relationship, our monogamy and commitment, was something new and special and completely ours. We defined it by choosing each other every day. Paying into our relationship with trust and respect and love. And those actions paid dividends in my life. We grew together and made each other better, stronger, more vulnerable and honest people. And I desperately wanted to define that feeling. I wanted a bond that was uniquely ours. I wanted to share a name. I wanted the whole world to know we were bonded, and we have each other’s back.
It may not be for everyone; there are plenty of places to hear about how hard marriage can be, but my answer to your question is to get to know your partner intimately. Ask all the hard questions. Ask about money and kids and drugs and drinking and death. And then listen to their answers. It will be different for every person you choose to date. So you make the decision together. I’ll never be able to answer if marriage is for all women. But for me and Mike? Marriage is more than just “worth it.” It’s the point of the whole game.