Oh, Ben Affleck, I adore you! Thank you for keeping it real when thanking your wife, Jennifer Garner, as you accepted the Oscar for Best Picture a couple of weeks ago. For those who missed it, Affleck told his beautiful wife, much of Hollywood and millions of viewers, “I want to thank you for working on our marriage for 10 Christmases. It’s good, it is work, but it’s the best kind of work, and there’s no one I’d rather work with.” (If you haven’t seen the video yet, here’s a link to a YouTube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUOM1GXY3vA)
My initial reaction was similar to Garner’s nod and smile. I was happy for Affleck, but couldn’t believe the words coming from his mouth. The comments came off so negative toward marriage that I actually thought, “oh boy, here comes another Hollywood divorce! Is he just a miserable married guy?”
Then, as I thought about it more, I wondered, “Ben, why are you sharing this secret? Don’t scare off all of those lovey-dovey engaged couples and honeymooners! But where were you when I was engaged? I wish I would’ve known this before I said, ‘I Do’.”
Now that I’ve had time to reflect on Affleck’s comments a bit more, I’m so happy that he shared this honest and real observation of marriage. And, though it’s less romantic of a view than we’d all love to believe, it’s one of the truest I’ve heard.
Marriage is work. Sometimes you’re working really hard at it, sometimes your partner is working really hard at it and sometimes you’re both working really hard at it together. Obviously, Affleck’s word choice wasn’t the greatest. Being an artist and in a public forum, he probably could have been a little more eloquent.
So, let’s just say relationships – especially marriages – aren’t always easy, but they are always worth it. (Okay, I should probably clarify and say, “they’re worth it most of the time” because I realize there are situations where staying in a marriage or relationship is definitely not worth it).
Many of us romanticize marriage so much that when we actually tie the knot we’re shocked at how difficult it sometimes is. When we realize that Prince Charming leaves towels and dirty clothes on the floor (all over the floor), or that Princess snores – loud, we think, “I did not sign up for this!”
Marriage requires unconditional love. I understand that love is patient and kind, love is selfless and honest, you need communication, and more. However, I feel that when you really think about unconditional love, it encompasses all of those necessities and more.
When two people who are unconditionally in love join together as one in marriage, they understand that at the end of the day, no matter what the other does, or what annoying personality traits the other possesses, they have love.
This, of course, doesn’t always happen over night. I, for one, am still learning how to unconditionally love my husband. My husband is still learning how to unconditionally love me. Every day I have to think about this, and, frankly, it really can be exhausting.
When my husband blames me for his lost keys or leaves the bread open again, I have to consciously remember that he is just stressed or not thinking about tying up the bread bag. This is just him – this is just who I chose to marry. I love him because he’s the funniest person I’ve ever met and has a huge heart (among other things), and I know I’m not perfect either.
When I get frustrated and “sigh” at him and everything he does or doesn’t do, I know it annoys him to no end. I know he gets so frustrated that I can’t get into bed until the sheet and comforter lay perfectly on the bed. Still, he loves me.
Some days, I want to give up on marriage because it really is so much work that I’m tired. I’m sure my husband has those days too. It can be a struggle at times, especially when money is tight, a family member is sick or life has you so busy that you don’t see each other very often.
We try to look past all of the petty, everyday stuff and focus on all that we have. We are lucky enough to have someone who loves us, someone who accepts us, someone who cares about our wellbeing, and someone with whom to share a family. He is a blessing to me and I am a blessing to him.
I know, I know, easier said than done. Believe me, this doesn’t mean that we have a perfect relationship and that we never argue. We absolutely do. When we’re feeling afraid, alone or stressed, it’s easy for us both to lose sight of what’s important.
Affleck is right about marriage. “It is work, but it’s the best kind of work.” At the end of the day, you know someone has your back and loves and accepts you. You have someone to hold your hand and walk beside you even in the darkest moments. You have someone with whom to share memories, create a family and live life.
So, know this, engaged couples and honeymooners, Affleck’s words are true. Marriage is work, but it’s worth it.