In Ben Affleck’s Best Picture acceptance speech, he didn’t sprinkle his wife Jennifer Garner with accolades. Instead, he thanked her for working with him all these years. “Marriage is work,” he said, “and there’s no one I’d rather work with.”
Since then, there’s been speculation that his marriage is on the rocks. I thought his speech signified the opposite: that their marriage is a living breathing organism, and they tend to it.
Of course, it’s Hollywood. It could turn out next week that I’m completely wrong. They could file for divorce. Who doesn’t remember the cringing day after the Oscars when Sandra Bullock called her husband her rock, and then it came out that he’d been sleeping around on her for months, maybe years?
But I think that a couple who believes marriage is about finding the best colleague you can and then working it out has a better than fighting chance.
Hollywood pumps us full of fairy tales. Movies end when couples get together; they don’t tend to start there. In the world of cinema, that’s when it gets boring.
And you know, they’re sort of right. Marriage is work, yes. But marriage is also boredom at times. It’s getting stuff done, and keeping a house running. The kids need to be fed and changed; homework has to get done.
But we don’t fall in love to just become ordinary, do we?
Inevitably, though, even for glamorous Hollywood couples, life can become ordinary. That’s when our mettle is tested, as a couple, and as individuals. What do we do not just when things become hard, but when they become real?
I think premarital counseling can be a great idea. (And apparently, Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux are in it right now! So it’s glamorous, too.) Anyway, in premarital counseling, you look at potential trouble spots. You consider your communication and your values. You admit that things won’t always look rosy, or even interesting.
That’s a good (and deeply unromantic) attitude to carry into such an enormous commitment. I actually think Ben Affleck came up with a great standard. Before you get married (and especially before you have kids), ask yourself: “Is this the person I want to work with forever? Is this the job for me?”
Oscar-like statue image available from Shutterstock
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Last reviewed: 26 Feb 2013