Jon Hamm appeared on the Table for Two podcast and reflected on why he married his wife, Anna Osceola. In conversation with host Bruce Bozzi, Jon said his marriage to Anna is "the exciting part of life and it's a signpost and a signifier of the next chapter and phase."
He went on to say that marriage “gives you and your partner a sense of stability and comfort and an identifying capacity that is better, deeper, richer, than ‘it's my girlfriend’ or ‘my boyfriend’ or what have you."
PEOPLE published an article recapping Jon’s interview and the headline they selected is a very misleading one. They excerpted the tiniest portion of his remarks, sans context, suggesting he married her for stability and comfort, when clearly what he’s saying is that marriage gives you stability and comfort. Those are two totally different ideas.
Over the last year, I’ve truly enjoyed sharing my hot takes on relationships, marriage, divorce and coparenting, so I was chomping at the bit, ready to rip into him for using a woman as a means of acquiring stability and comfort – which, as a celebrity, he already has, at least economically. But in reading the full context of what he’s saying, I don’t actually see anything wrong with it at all.
What I do find interesting, though, is how much of a departure marriage is from what he maintained he wanted in the past. Or at least what the media made out to be a very strict “ruling out” of marriage and kids. But we’ll get back to that shortly.
Back in 2012, Jon spoke to Playboy, and said marriage was essentially meaningless to him.
"My parents got divorced when I was two and never remarried. So, it doesn't mean anything to me…I didn’t have a particularly defined example of marriage,” he revealed.
At the time, he was dating actress and screenwriter Jennifer Westfeldt, whom he dated from 1997 until their split in 2015, which happened to be a year after he met Anna on the set of Mad Men. In 2008, in conversation with the New York Post, he had the following to say about his long-term relationship:
"We may not have a piece of paper that says we're husband and wife, but after 10 years, Jennifer is more than just a girlfriend. What we have is much deeper and we both know that," he said. "To me, people get married when they're ready to have kids, which I'm not ruling out."
In fact, it seemed like it was Jen who had more of a hard line on not marrying or having kids. Was art imitating life or life imitating art when she wrote, produced, directed and starred in the 2011 film Friends With Kids? The movie was centered around a group of friends who navigated marriage and family life and her unconventional approach to it all. During a Q&A, which Sarah attended, she spoke at length about not wanting kids or a traditional relationship and the importance of prioritizing artistic expression and her career over family.
Back in 2012, Jon and Jen were interviewed by the New York Times and opened up about their relationship, co-starring on screen and of course, kids.
“I’ve thought about this a lot lately. I never thought I’d be this age and not have kids. But my life has also gone in a million ways I never anticipated,” Jen said when the inevitable question about their plans for the future came up. “I kept feeling like I’d wake up with absolute clarity, and I haven’t.”
She went on to describe the possibility of waking up with a ‘lightning bolt’ the next day and being in a scramble to make things happen, which is a reality for a lot of women who feel rushed and panicked to get things going, particularly as it pertains to marriage and children.
Here is where things differ a lot for men and women who reach a certain point in their life and face the decision of whether to have kids. Jon is 52. Anna is 35. If the pair decided they wanted kids tomorrow, it’s likely they would be able to do that one way or another. The freedom men have to wait, or simply get with someone much younger, doesn’t exist in that same way for women, and the pressure can not only be stifling, but dangerous.
On an episode of one of my favourite podcasts, Something Was Wrong, a woman detailed her experience marrying a man she didn’t know had a substance abuse problem because she was in a rush to become a wife and have kids. He ended up becoming incredibly abusive to her and her two sons, and it changed the entire trajectory of her life. I will never forget her reflecting on how much that same sense of ‘being in a scramble’ that Jen is describing ruined her entire life, distorted her sense of reality, and impacted her children.
Now, back to the media portraying Jon as being strictly anti-marriage and anti-children over the years. In doing research for this piece, I found so many articles suggesting Jon “ruled out” or “swore off” marriage and kids. But reading the actual transcriptions and quotes from interviews shows that none of his quotes suggest he had a hard stance on anything. In fact, they say the opposite and suggest he has always been open to anything.
"I don't have that paragon of married life to look at and think, 'Oh yeah, that's it! That's what I want!'" he said in this interview. When it came to fatherhood, he added, "That said, I'm in a committed relationship, and if it ever came up, I'm not ruling it out."
A 2016 article in Vanity Fair quotes Jon as saying the following when the topic of kids came up:
“I don’t think it’s necessarily an imperative,” he said. “I’m not going to psychoanalyze myself here, but… well, never say never. I’ve got nieces and nephews and I’ve been a teacher. I feel if you shut that off entirely you calcify.”
Jon and Jen’s split was rumoured to be about their inability to see eye-to-eye on having kids. But with Jen’s ambivalence being a lot more evident than Jon’s, was he misrepresented?
Personally, I think it’s because it’s an easy sell. It’s always women that want marriage and kids, right? The whole appeal of this article for me was thinking that he was in an 18 year relationship with no ring on the table, only to go and marry someone in less time than he had been with Jen. It’s salacious af. But realizing that she never wanted that and he did? Now that’s something.
He reflected on how rehab and therapy helped him process his substance abuse issues and the death of his dad. I imagine those experiences only opened him up even more to love and family.
"After I'd lost my dad, I had this horrible paralyzing inertia -- and no one in my family was capable of dealing with it," he said. "So what do you do? Go and see a professional. I preach it from the mountaintops. I know it's a luxury and it's not something everyone can afford. But if you can, do it. It's like a mental gym."
Initially this piece was supposed to be about Jon changing his views on marriage and finally tying the knot at 52. But it doesn’t appear that his views needed to be changed at all. He was always open to it. So instead, it’s shaping up to be a piece about what happens when everyone honours themselves. I write all the time about doing what works for you, and this is a prime example of what that can bring about – the good, the bad and the ugly.
Jen stood her ground, which can be an impossibly trying task in a world where society pushes women to be birthing machines and paints the idea of being past a certain age and single as some sort of death sentence. Her bravery to stick to her original plan, despite the immense sacrifices that came with that – which included the loss of a nearly two-decade long relationship and whatever emotions she may be feeling seeing him tie the knot with Anna, means she gets to live out her dream of prioritizing her career and artistic expression.
Meanwhile, Jon appears very happy in love, marriage, and in sobriety, too. And Anna, despite a less than favourable wedding dress selection and cheesy venue (we get it, you met on the set of Mad Men!) is a happy bride. Everyone wins.