Ben Affleck is my boy now. Sure, I liked The Town. I’ve always liked how he loves to play in the World Series of Poker. He’s had some decent performances to combat the horrific, J Lo era ones. (coughGiglicough) His true-underdog-story rise to stardom with Matt Damon for writing Good Will Hunting inspired 10 year-old me that I could graduate from college and be on the Oscars not long afterwards.
Much has been written about Affleck’s fall from grace and climb back to the top of the Hollywood mountain. I have no desire or need to recap those pieces. As I stated in my Oscars recap with my wife, I loved Argo and think it’s a deserving Best Picture winner, even if it was the 4th best movie of 2012 on my list.
But none of this is why Ben Affleck is my boy now. Ben Affleck is my boy because of the touching, rambling, emotional acceptance speech he gave at the end of the Oscars telecast.
He humbly recognized the genius of Spielberg and admitted that any of the other 8 films would have deserved to win in his place. He thanked everyone possibly involved in the making of Argo, admitting that it’s impossible and silly to try to thank enough people in one’s acceptance speech. He thanked Canada, probably wise given that the film tended to downplay the large role they had in the covert mission to rescue the stranded Americans. He thanked those in Iran living in terrible circumstances right now.
Then, he thanked his wife, “who [he] doesn’t normally associate with Iran.”
“But 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.”
The audience laughed. Jennifer Garner choked back tears. And I loved it. As Ben Affleck wins big for the movie he starred in/directed/produced on Hollywood’s most self-congratulatory night, he called his marriage the best kind of work.
Twitter exploded. Is there tension in Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner’s marriage?
If you currently type “Ben Affleck marriage” into Google, the first autofill choice is “Ben Affleck marriage on the rocks”.
Popular culture today does not think that true love is work. If you have to work for love, then can it really be true love? If it’s hard, then isn’t that a sign that it’s not worth doing? Marriage shouldn’t be work; it should be bliss!
These are the messages we learn from music, television, film, and how our society talks/thinks/acts about marriage. And, inevitably, it forms how we all think about it.
Now, let me be clear: I don’t have marriage figured out. I’m not pretending to have marriage figured out. By all accounts from wise, old married couples I’ve ever talked with or read, one of the keys to marriage is realizing that you never have it figured out. That it’s something that requires work. That loving someone has nothing to do with your feelings but everything to do with your choices and actions prioritizing that person and sacrificing for them.
There have been a litany of secular articles and Christian articles breaking down Ben Affleck’s acceptance speech and what it reveals about his understanding of marriage. We can tell Ben Affleck has grown up and matured during his ups and downs in Hollywood. Look no further than the subtle power of his scenes in Argo with his estranged son and wife. After seeing Argo, I commented to my wife that you could tell he’s a different person because he’s making movies differently, including how he chose to end his greatest film, Argo.
His Oscars acceptance speech revealed this truth. While the masses on Twitter and around the world wondered what was wrong with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner’s marriage, some of us nodded in agreement. It was refreshing to hear from someone at the top of the Hollywood mountain a true message about true love.
Amongst crappy romantic comedies and constant messaging that distorts our culture’s view of love, it was nice to see the look on Affleck and Garner’s face while he spoke truth about love. From my very limited, short experience of being married, I can confirm what he said. It’s the best kind of work and there’s no one I’d rather work with than my beautiful wife, Palmer. This deeper, more sacred love provides a greater marital joy and bliss than any sort of fleeting feeling.
The realization that true love is work doesn’t take the magic out of marriage – in fact, it ensures that marriage is more magical each and every day.