In case you live under a rock or off the grid or are anti-indulgent celebrations, you might have missed the Academy Awards this past weekend. If you missed the Academy Awards you might not have heard the speech Ben Affleck gave after Argo won Best Picture (spoilers!) and the crazy insane stuff he said to his wife, Jennifer Garner.
“I want to thank you for working on 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.”
ZOMG. Cue internet outrage. Can you believe this guy?
According to The World, Ben Affleck should only have said a variety of very common, very public-approved phrases. He should have told her he loved her and called her his muse or told her she was perfect. He should have said he couldn’t have done anything without her. He should have told her she looked beautiful that night. He should have said any of these things but only these things.
Call me crazy but I just can’t get behind the outrage. Listening to Ben’s speech I smiled and thought, “That’s refreshing.” What Ben said to his wife was honest and sincere and I respect that. I thought it was kind and sweet. I’m certainly not the only one though because – pan to wife – Jennifer Garner had a huge smile the entire time he spoke to her from the podium.
Why do we spend so much time lying about relationships in our society? Why do we push fairy tale dreams on little girls and hide all the bad parts of relationships? Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Disney princess movie as much as the next overgrown child, but I think we need to start being honest with ourselves and our children too. Romance and love aren’t all rainbows and butterflies and warm fuzzy feelings. Marriage isn’t just one long, lovely gondola ride through smooth waters.
Maybe my opinion doesn’t matter to anyone because I’m not married yet (t-minus 74 days!) but I would like to think that my opinion crosses the boundary of marriage and is applicable to long-term relationships in general. When I marry David, our every day relationship won’t change. I’ll still be leaving dishes in the sink and he’ll still be forgetting to pick up toilet paper at the grocery store. My opinion? Ben Affleck is on to something here.
I love David. He is awesome. He is charismatic, intelligent, and really, really, ridiculously good-looking. I am glad to have him in my life but our relationship wouldn’t exist without a lot of hard work. Sometimes we are crazy. Sometimes we are irrational. Sometimes we are insecure.
And that’s on a good day.
Life together isn’t always easy and it definitely isn’t always fun but we stay together because it’s worth it. We work at it.
I know. I said our relationship is work. That idea that goes unsaid because we all want to pretend our relationships exist in a vacuum of perfection. Do you want to know what the single greatest thing being with David has taught me? Relationships aren’t perfect; and they don’t need to be. I spent so much time before meeting him convinced that I was in messes of relationships because they weren’t perfect. Fighting, lying, even the smallest of transgressions was a sign that my relationship was doomed. I was supposed to find my prince charming and we would go through some hardship to be together, then we would live happily ever after. People would write books about our love story. Friends would wilt with jealousy at the sight of us together, swooning 24/7.
Ben Affleck gave his wife a tremendous compliment; he admitted that marriage was work (shhh) and then he told his wife it was the “best kind of work” and “there’s no one I’d rather work with.”
Why do we associate work with unhappiness? When I want to get stronger I have to kick my ass in the gym. Sometimes it hurts and it is always tiring but I feel good and powerful when I am pushing myself to my limits and when I reach that goal – when I’m stronger than I was a month ago – I feel so good. I feel good because I achieved my goal, because I worked for what I wanted, and because I put every piece of me into the process. Ben never said he hated the work, he just said the word “work.”
He talked about teamwork.
He works with his wife to have a marriage that has managed to last over a decade. In an era with a 50/50 divorce rate, I think we can all admit this gives them a leg to stand on.
David is selfish. I am selfish. Humans are selfish. It’s who we are. It’s what we do. Committing to spending your life trying to rise above that deeply ingrained character trait is a hefty task to take on; but I’m ready for the challenge.
There are going to be days when – although we love each other – we don’t like each other very much. There are going to be days we need to be there for each other when all we want to do is focus on ourselves. These are the days that we will go to work. We will work to be better people and better partners. We will work because it is what is important to us and because we know it will be worth it. We will work to stay connected to each other rather than take each other’s presence for granted. We will work to make each other feel as loved and important as they deserve to feel.
For the rest of our time together, we are going to work at our relationship. We are not perfect and we are not going to pretend to be. We are not going to be that couple that pretends they don’t fight and they always get along and everything is absolutely fantastic. Everything isn’t fantastic every single day but on a whole? We’re pretty damn great. Because we work for it. We’ve earned this.
I admire Ben Affleck for his honesty. When the day comes that David is finally honored in the film industry with some award, I hope that he can have such pure and heartfelt things to say to me during his thank you speech instead of the same tired lines. I hope that he can see me as more than just the pretty face sitting next to him, along for the ride, and instead as his partner and teammate in life, against all odds.
And if he forgets to thank me at all, he’s sleeping on the couch indefinitely.