Ben Affleck caused rumours to fly about the state of his seven-year marriage to Jennifer Garner during his Oscar acceptance speech earlier this year when he labelled it “work”.
He paid tribute to his wife as he accepted the Best Movie award for Argo.
‘I want to thank you for working on our marriage for 10 Christmases. It’s good. It is work but the best kind of work and there’s no one I’d rather work with.’
He was later compelled to explain himself.
‘All relationships, to a certain extent, require your work. We work on it together, we try our best, nobody’s perfect. She’s more perfect than I am.’
But marriage is hard work, isn’t it? Society leads us to believe that it is all love, butterflies and fairytales, when in reality it is so much less exceptional than that. Perhaps it is this very unrealistic expectation that dooms so many marriages to failure.
That’s not to say that work doesn’t equal love. Being willing to love someone enough to work through the tough times, the mundane times and the exhaustion of having a young family and working full time (whether in the home or in the workforce) is costly. It says to your partner – you’re worth it. We’re worth it.
This is exactly what Jennifer Garner heard when she sat smiling in the audience as her husband gave his emotional speech. In an interview with The Telegraph the actress rushed to his defence.
'I know Ben, I knew he meant it as the hugest, warmest compliment in the world. I think he was saying, “Look, what we have is really real and I value it above all and I’m in it with you and I know you are in it with me.” That’s the way I took it.’
‘Poor guy,’ says Garner. ‘It’s so horrible to put yourself out there – he didn’t have to worry about it from my point of view.’
Garner was four months pregnant with the couple’s eldest daughter, Violet, when she married Affleck in 2005. Seraphina followed soon after in 2009 and just over a year ago the couple welcomed baby Samuel. To say that maintaining a strong, thriving relationship with three young children is anything but hard would be almost unbelievable.
We don’t need less of these honest conversations about marriage, but more. The fact that so many people, even those close to the couple (Garner says a friend phoned her soon after to see if everything was okay), jumped to the conclusion that their relationship was in trouble indicates that we need a reality check.
Marriage is good, honest, worthwhile, loving, hard work. And to make it last in Hollywood is even harder. Whatever work Garner and Affleck are doing they sound like they’re onto something.