Jennifer Aniston is over the obsession with marriage and procreation, especially when it comes to the media and the public's speculation on her love life.
"Maybe it has everything to do with what they're lacking in their own life," the "Dumplin'" star told Elle in its January 2019 issue.
"Why do we want a happy ending? How about just a happy existence? A happy process? We're all in process constantly," she said. "What quantifies happiness in someone's life isn't the ideal that was created in the '50s. It's not like you hear that narrative about any men. That's part of sexism — it’s always the woman who’s scorned and heartbroken and a spinster. It's never the opposite. The unfortunate thing is, a lot of it comes from women. Maybe those are women who haven't figured out that they have the power, that they have the ability to achieve a sense of inner happiness."
Aniston, 49, admitted that because of her parents' divorce when she was a kid, marriage was never a driving force for her at all.
"When I was first popped the question, it was so foreign to me," she said. "My priorities weren’t about finding partnership and who am I gonna marry and what am I gonna wear on my wedding day ... And I'm sure, because I was from a divorced-parent home, that was another reason I wasn't like, 'Well, that looks like a great institution.' "
The actress split from second husband Justin Theroux in February after less than three years of marriage, but nearly seven years as a couple.
She infamously divorced Brad Pitt in 2005 after he hooked up with "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" co-star Angelina Jolie.
Still, Aniston regards her marriages as successful.
"I don't feel a void. I really don't," she insisted. "My marriages, they've been very successful, in [my] personal opinion. And when they came to an end, it was a choice that was made because we chose to be happy, and sometimes happiness didn't exist within that arrangement anymore. Sure, there were bumps, and not every moment felt fantastic, obviously, but at the end of it, this is our one life and I would not stay in a situation out of fear. Fear of being alone. Fear of not being able to survive."
She continued, "To stay in a marriage based on fear feels like you're doing your one life a disservice. When the work has been put in and it doesn't seem that there's an option of it working, that’s okay. That's not a failure. We have these clichés around all of this that need to be reworked and retooled, you know? Because it's very narrow-minded thinking."
Aniston, who's previously lashed out at the media for speculating about the contents of her uterus, admitted that the idea of having kids is "kind of frightening."
"Some people are just built to be wives and have babies. I don't know how naturally that comes to me," she said. "Who knows what the future holds in terms of a child and a partnership — how that child comes in ... or doesn't? And now with science and miracles, we can do things at different times than we used to be able to."
Part of that may well stem from Aniston's difficult relationship with her late mother, Nancy Dow, from whom she was estranged for years.
"She was from this world of, 'Honey, take better care of yourself,' or 'Honey, put your face on,' or all of those odd sound bites that I can remember from my childhood," Aniston reflected of Dow. Though she previously explained that Dow, a model, made her feel insecure for not being as beautiful as she thought her mother wished she was, she's come to understand that Dow was simply doing the best that she could.
"My mom said those things because she really loved me. It wasn't her trying to be a b—h or knowing she would be making some deep wounds that I would then spend a lot of money to undo," she said. "She did it because that was what she grew up with. 'You want to be happy. It's hard for big girls.' She was missing what was [actually] important. I think she was just holding on and doing the best she could, struggling financially and dealing with a husband who was no longer there. Being a single mom in the '80s I'm sure was pretty crappy."
In any event, Aniston is, at least for now, more comfortable starring as a pageant mom in "Dumplin'" and hosting her friends' kids for "Sunday Funday" in her pool than she is with potentially becoming a parent herself someday, and that should be fine with the rest of the world, because that's fine with her.
"You're diminishing everything I have succeeded at, and that I have built and created. It's such a shallow lens that people look through," she said. It's the only place to point a finger at me as though it's my damage — like it's some sort of a scarlet letter on me that I haven't yet procreated, or maybe won't ever procreate."
"It's a very storybook idea," Aniston concluded of the traditional "happily ever after" fantasy of marriage and kids. "I understand it, and I think for some people it does work. And it's powerful and it's incredible and it's admirable. Even enviable. But everybody's path is different."