At the recent Academy Awards, Ben Affleck, the director for the Best Picture category in 2012, made a revealing comment in his acceptance speech that created quite a stir for some who can be critical of just about any dialog.
In his excitement and rush to thank everyone involved in the movie, he proceeded to thank his wife, Jennifer Garner, with these words:
“I want to thank my wife . . . 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.”
When I heard his comments, I thought, Wow! Here’s someone in the spotlight who isn’t ashamed to say that marriage is work—good work, hard work, and the best kind of work.
What a refreshing splash of reality in a world, and especially in an industry, that has made generous profits on creating unrealistic expectations for romantic relationships. The reality for many is that, whether they are aware of it or not, they’ve been influenced by the computer-generated media mythology that genuine love just happens. The new measure of the success or failure of a love relationship has become personal happiness and fulfillment. And if your partner or spouse doesn’t do it for you anymore, then it’s time to move on and find someone else who does.
The reality check is that if you listen to anyone who is honest about building a marriage, that person acknowledges that it takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to construct something substantial that can go the distance. It takes hard work, and that’s what real love requires.
Whether he knew it or not, Ben was echoing the ancient wisdom found in the Proverbs 24:3-4:
By wisdom a house it built,
and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.
Now honestly, I don’t know Ben and Jennifer. I have no insights into their personal lives (and this is not an endorsement). But my hunch is that those who took potshots at him with comments like “Ben Affleck could probably use a ladder to get out of that hole he dug himself into at the Oscars last night when he called out the imperfections in his marriage” probably reveals more about the chronic cynicism that is all too prevalent when it comes to marriage.
His final comment to his wife was a precious affirmation of loyalty: “and there’s no one I’d rather work with.” I know for a fact that most wives would love to hear that kind of unabashed affirmation of fidelity from their husbands.
And that’s a good reminder for all of us who are married. Is marriage work? Hard work? Yes! But it’s good work and the best kind of work. So let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work loving each other well.