Director Monique Sorgen on America’s Marriage Culture and new film ‘Sorry, Not Sorry’

ATM: In America, the prevalence of marriage has changed. Before it was the expected thing when two people express romantic feelings with one another, if they wanted their relationship or connection to last for a long time, then they would get married. Recently, the perspective of marriage has changed.

You find a lot of people who are together, but they are not married. They are not married because they do not want to feel trapped. When you are married there is this expected feeling of “My fun is over in my life.” Your freedom to do things is over because you are tied down to this person.

MS: Yes. I agree. I am very much at the forefront of this movement. It is something that comes up repeatedly in my work. I am someone who never has wanted to get married. I suffer from a lot of pressure in society and people in my life telling me that I should get married. I have never been into it.

I do not understand why I need to commit to someone for the rest of my life. I am not convinced we are going to necessarily change in the same ways for the rest of our lives. I am open to a committed relationship, but that relationship might not last forever. I am okay with that.

ATM: I understand spouses go through things. One individual inside a marriage should not have to be patient, but only in some cases if the heart of the person is true. They should not have to put their feelings on hold to catch up to another person. This is how it is in our American culture. “My partner is going through this. Let’s put my feelings on hold and listen to theirs.” But why? This should not be the primal element in the marriage culture.

MS: I am sure there are people in this modern day and age that decide to get married and be married by their own rules. I do not find that most people can sustain a marriage in this way. I feel like, “What is the point of marriage?” Most people answer is that “it’s for the kids.”

But if you are not having kids part of me feels like what is the point of getting married? Also, from my point of view, when you do you get married a lot of time the men are a burden on the women. They have to pick up the slack. She must go to work. She ends up being responsible for the housework, cooking, taking care of the kids, and doing the picking up and dropping off. It is expected that women should do more.

As a woman, I have never been drawn to it. It has never felt fair to me. It is good for some people. Some people want it, and that’sgreat. But think about it before you make that choice. Do not just get married because everyone tells you and you are supposed to have a wedding. We all want to have a wedding. Weddings seem fun.

It is a day that celebrates you. You get to dress in a white gown, and it is fun. But then you are with this person for the rest of your life, if you keep your promises. I am a person who likes to keep my promise. This is a very big commitment to make to a person

ATM: Often when people have been together for a long time everything goes right. But when they get married things to start to fall apart. They typically get divorced. In some cases, when you get married, subconsciously you fall into the stereotype of what is expected for a marriage. This messes up the love you once had when you were not married. Self-consciously you are trying to follow in line with what society says. You are assimilating to the culture without knowing it. I would want my mother to walk me down the aisle. The woman does this and that in a marriage.

I am not going to do your laundry despite how great and the creativity of the intimacy. There is a stereotype if the intimacy is good then do it all for him. No. I will be the breadwinner, or I want it to be equal. In my connection, it will not be, “Hey, honey what is for dinner?” No. I believe the woman should ask these questions more often not the men. I will more so ask this question.

MS: It is true. It is a real patriarchal concept that your father walks you down the aisle. The purpose of this is to give you as property to another man. I agree with you that there is a lot of self-consciousness in this view. When an independent woman like you and I, when we are put in this situation, we do feel a certain societal obligation to take on the role of the servant wife.

No matter how hard we are working at work to be the breadwinner. No matter how much food we are contributing to. This is why I say to know yourself. “Are you the type of person who is going to step into the role even though it is a huge burden for you?” Think about this before you put on the white dress.

ATM: In marriages, subconsciously the man uses the woman for emotional security. It is not really a term, but I will coin it. Males are males in distress. This is the flip on the term Damsel in distress. Typically, in marriages, a male needs a female emotionally more than a female needs a male.

MS: I agree. There are studies that married men tend to be happier than married men. Single women tend to be happier than married women. There has been science that backs this up.

ATM: The woman is going to stay there most of the time because she loves him. She is going to stay there through his self-centeredness and excessiveness. She just hears all his emotional baggage. She does not even have enough time to express her emotional baggage. This is how and where it leads to infidelity and an imbalance in the marriage. The emotional security is not leveled properly. “I have to put away what I do all day.

To handle my man’s problems.” Then if I do not take on this role to put my emotional issues aside, then it is like, “You are not a supportive wife. Support your husband.” Most times when the husbands look to try hearing what she has to say, he has nothing to say. He either answers with the question. This is a mental reversal because now the wife is indirectly answering her own question. It appears that the man is stepping up. Then his advice turns back to this emotional baggage.

MS: Yes. And there are men capable of being emotionally supportive. Some men are capable of listening. There is a certain amount of male privilege that goes into a marriage in most situations. There are exceptions, but for sure you often feel you do not have a turn to get listened to when it is your time to talk.

Maybe some men are not emotionally equipped or raised to deal with the needs of a woman on an emotional level. In our society, men are emotionally cut off at a young age. When a woman needs to rely on a man for what she is going through, he does not always have the training to deal with her problems. They are taught not to cry and not to feel things. But that is not human or realistic for them.

ATM: How do you believe polygamy as the dominant choice would change America’s marriage culture?

MS: Well, polygamy is a choice. I do not think it is for everyone. I am not personally a fan of polygamy. I am a fan of having one relationship at a time that you are committed to. But you are not saying this is going to last for the rest of your life. That is where I stand. I am a fan of monogamy, but not a fan of “For life.” Unless it happens to work out this way. I have currently been in a relationship with someone for seven years.

We are faithful to each other. Being faithful is a way of respecting the other person you have a sexual relationship with. If we decided we do not want to be with each other anymore, then it is a breakup and not a divorce. It has to be a mutual understanding that we are not moving in the same directionin our lives anymore. It does not have to be as big of a deal.

I have met people who believe very strongly in polygamy for themselves. This is their choice. If they believe they can handle it, then more power to them. As a child, it was not called polygamy at this time, but it was called Free Love my parents had a wife swapping and husband swapping free love relationship. I firmly believe this led to their divorce.

Everybody does not react in the same way to a new partner. It is likely that one person or another in a polyamorous relationship is going to fall in love with someone they did not expect to fall in love with. In my opinion, polygamy can lead to a lot of breakups. In my opinion, if people do decide to do this, then the relationship will probably fail eventually. There are so many moving parts for someone not to get hurt at some point from this situation.

ATM: In marriages, with adults, you begin to get held to a certain standard. If you do not always follow through, then your respect is lost.

MS: And, the thing of when you marry someone you say, “Til death do us part.” What happens is that you start to think this person will be there forever no matter what you do. This sets you up with for taking them for granted. It is not taking it day by day and saying, “I am going to respect you every day like the first day I ever met you.” You are saying, “You are always going to be here for me. I can do whatever I want.

I can treat you however I want. I do not have to worry about you leaving me.” This is what you say in marriage. This is what plays out in my movie Sorry, Not Sorry. These people believe they are in this marriage for life and always will be there even if it is not fun. They do not have to worry so much about how the other person feels. This is why people tend to be disrespectful in a marriage. Sometimes it goes that far, and people are like “you have crossed the line.”

ATM: These words sets both parties up for emotional deception and issues. They can lead to therapy while in a marriage and outside of the marriage. You grow a bond to this person. Emotionally this messes you up. Everyone has a deep emotional side. In a marriage, it is expected for you to love, feel safe, and trust this person emotionally. Emotionally 100% let this person in. This can backfire and scar you for life to the point you do not want to get into another relationship or marriage.

MS: Some people shut down in a marriage. I have also seen some people take the stuff you have said in your most vulnerable moments and use it against you. They know how to press your buttons and how to embarrass you, and also who so they tell your personal business too?. So, you are putting a lot of trust in this person. This person might turn out to not be as trustworthy as you hoped. Then again, at a certain point with people, you know. Like with my boyfriend I know he is trustworthy with anything I tell him. He will guard this information and not use it against me.

ATM: Marriage is also an economic business. This is what people need to realize.

MS: Yes. It is two businesses. It is the business of marriage and the business of divorce. These are two major businesses that are involved. This is a multi-billion-dollar business.

ATM: People need to take this into account. Adults do not realize this. They get caught up in the emotional aspect of the relationship and forget this is a conjoined business. To leave the relationship legally, you have to give up some money and squeeze some of your finances. And there are notable other things. There are a lot of people who believe that their partner should love them no matter what. They should not. In some religions or some cultures, you cannot get divorced. If you are a part of some empire or highly known financial family, then you cannot get divorced. No matter how he/she treats you.

MS: I know what you are saying. I have dated someone who wanted me to love him unconditionally. He would get angry and guilt me very hard into loving him. No matter how he treated me. Ultimately, thinking back on the relationship, this was emotional abuse. I don’t believe in unconditional love in a romantic relationship. I think love is conditional on how you treat the other person. The only unconditional love is from a parent to a child —- or in my case , because I don’t have kids, but I do have unconditional love for my niece and nephew. There is nothing they could do to make me stop loving them. In regard to cultures where you are not allowed to get a divorce, like Indians and Catholics, these are often arranged marriages. They are not based on love but rather on tradition. They just expect you to stay. This is culturally a different situation. Whereas, here in the United States we marry for love. We expect unconditional love. That is unrealistic.

ATM: I believe in unconditional love now. It is unrealistic because we all change. We are all going through our own situations in our lives. I assess life by chapters. All chapters apply to everyone, but all people function within the chapters differently based on their life and their circumstances. One person might be in a different chapter. The marriage standard in America does not take this into account. Regardless if they want to be married or not. “I am not going to be the same in 10 or 20 years.”

MS: I agree. You and I agree on a lot of things and issues. I do not meet many people who agree with me about marriage and these ideas.

ATM: It is looking at it through all lenses and angles. In society, if you do not agree with the dominant understanding of something you are deemed an outsider. This makes you look at the rest of society like a cult. “So, If I do not believe what you say or all is saying, then something is wrong with me.”

MS: Right. It takes a lot of inner strength to go against the grain and the cult. You have to be willing to let people say you’re a weirdo in to your face. I would rather be told I am a weirdo than be in an unsatisfying marriage that will last the rest of my life and ruin my quality of life.

ATM: When did you realize you were opposed to getting married?

MS: I have always not wanted to get married. I remember being 15 years old and thinking it was stupid. Obviously, when going through my 20s and 30s, everyone around me was getting married. I looked at it more closely. I have had relationships where during the honeymoon stage I was like, “Maybe I would marry this person.” As the relationshipswent on for 2 years or more, I got to know the person and went back to my original idea.

I do not want to be responsible for this person for the rest of my life. I do not think looking back they would have been right for me in the long term. I am in a relationship now that might last the rest of my life and then it may not. I do not believe I am capable of knowing the future. For me, it has been a long commitment not to commit. I have never thought, “I want to get married one day.” I have always been logical about it,ever since I was a teenager.

ATM: So, this was influenced by how your parents treated marriage.

MS: It probably was influenced by my parents. They fought a lot while they were married. Since their divorce, I look at their personalities. They have changed a lot since not being together. Divorce allowed them to change in a direction that they were more prone to. Now looking back, I wonder how they were ever married at all. Their personalities were not a match. They might have been a match back then because they were young and influencing each other, but they could not get along. It did influence me to a degree.

Of course, I’m glad they did get married because I would not have existed in the first place. And it was not just them, but all the other bad relationships I have seen in my life. I have seen a couple of good relationships. My grandparents seemed like they were right for each other. I did idolize them the most. But even in that relationship, I noticed how my grandmother was bending over backward for my grandfather all the time. He just sat there and looked cute, charming, and funny. These are nice qualities, but he used his charm to make himself seem lovable even though he did nothing. This was a good relationship. Even the good ones are not fair to the women.

ATM: A lot of times marriages get seen as a parent-child relationship all over again. Subconsciously they look at the wife as their mother. They emotionally treat the wife as a mother, and they do not know this. A lot of people in marriages do not even love themselves or know who they are. They force this knowledge of not knowing on their partner. This is emotional abuse. “If I do not love myself, then I am going to bother you.” I am going to gaslight you and do all these things.

MS: Yes, this happens a lot.

ATM: Or just constant manipulating the person. You are so blinded by the love they do not see it. Or you see it and the love is too strong for you to acknowledge it.

MS: To me, love is two independent people who know each other. They do not have to manipulate each other because they realize each person has some good and bad qualities. They understand where this person’s boundaries and limitations are.

ATM: There is a lot of respect for people who decide not to go the marriage route. In a well-kempt and elegant move throughout relationships. People who do not want to get married are seen to have multiple relationships and sexual encounters.

MS: This is very aggravating. People think I am going to steal their husbands because I do not have one. This is the last thing on my list to do. If a husband can be stolen, then I have already lost respect for him, for the man.

ATM: If someone is able even to steal a spouse, then I do not feel they were emotionally theirs, to begin with. Also, gender bias.

MS: There is a gender bias. It is more respected when a man doesn’t get married than when a woman does it. Women are now out getting lives. Women are realizing it is not as advantageous for them to get married. Gabrielle, do you think there is a gender bias?

ATM: Yes, there is a huge gender bias in deciding not to go forth with the marriage culture.

MS: The man just seems like a cool bachelor. George Clooney got married to his wife. Remember all the years where he was single and people were like, “Yeah, to be like George Clooney – the hot bachelor.” If it had been Nicole Kidman or someone else, then they would have been like, “What is wrong with her? Why can’t she find a man? Why can’t she get a man to like her?” Maybe she does not want to get married.

ATM: Women who decide not to get married are frowned upon.

MS: Yes, they are seen as they are not able to get married. It is like they are making a choice not to get married. Even Oprah has taken the path to never getting married. People are always like, “Why doesn’t she get married? Is she a lesbian? She is dating Gayle King?” These are the rumors that go around. She just does not want to get married.

ATM: In our society, stereotypes are put on women who decide not to follow the marriage culture in America. To get married or not married should be an opinion. This opinionated way should be the norm and a dominant decision. No one should be scrutinized if they do not want to get married. We should not have to go to biblical texts.

It is 2019, almost 2020, so stop frowning upon and putting demeaning labels on people, especially women. Some people do not even want the ceremony. “This is my life. If I do not want to get married, then do not make me or pressure me to.” This is what society has a problem with doing. It does not mean I do not want to be in love. These are two different things.

MS: Yes, exactly. We all want to be in love. Just not obligated for the rest of our lives. These are two different things, being in love and being married. I agree there is a double standard. Men get called cool bachelors and women get called old maids. To be an old maid, you are too old for a guy at a certain point to like you. This is ridiculous.

ATM: This speaks a lot in America and their old customs. These can no longer be applied in this day and age of promoting diversity. It will not click.

MS: This is another area of diversity we should be accepting of.

ATM: This sector of diversity is not treated a lot or if any by the media. How do you speak on it without looking frown upon? Or people thinking this person wants to just indulge in sexual encounters. No, this is not the case.

MS: This is why I am passionate about the next movie I am making. It makes the conversation happen. My next project is about marriage. It is about a woman who does not want to get married. As she gets older, she realizes she is losing her friends. Her plan was to rely on her friends for love while not getting married. But she finds out they have no space to fit her into their lives because of their babies and marriages.

So, it is interesting that we are having this conversation. This is exactly and specifically what I cover in my next movie. This has really been an interesting conversation. It is nice to meet a like-minded person.