An analysis of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner's relationship based on non-verbal cues
It all started during the Oscars when Ben Affleck stated his marriage to Jennifer Garner was “work.” He recently hosted Saturday Night Live (SNL) and addressed his choice of words in his monologue. So after analyzing both speeches, there’s something you all must know. There is no better place to start than by looking at the couple’s non-verbal cues at the Oscars.
Jen appeared to be genuinely touched and demonstrated loving support for her husband. Before he even spoke, the actress was already showing signs of joyful tears, the same emotion you would see at a wedding. These feelings get even stronger when Ben starts to speak about her.
First, her inner eyebrows are raised, indicating that she was very emotional. When her inner eyebrows are raised, you also see wrinkling on her forehead. This cue is just a side effect of her raised inner eyebrows, but it helps to indicate that she’s truly feeling this emotion since deep wrinkles are hard to fake. Finally, she shows the trifecta of strong emotional feelings as her chin dimples and bulges.
You may think these three non-verbal cues indicate sadness, but don’t be fooled! Jen was extremely happy and proud of Ben. In addition to the cues above, she showed the following cues of joyfulness: smiling with the addition of dimples and crow’s feet (wrinkling at the corner of her eyes). Crow’s feet is a powerful cue used to identify a sincere smile versus a fake smile, which only happens near the mouth. A true smile includes the mouth, cheeks and eyes – everything that Jen was showing.
Of course, we all want to know what Jen was thinking when Ben started talking about their relationship being “work.” She showed three notable non-verbal cues. First, she titled her head to the side, which indicated that she was wondering a bit about where Ben was going with his speech. She was surprised but not offended by what he said.
She also sat up straight and slightly tilted her chin upwards, indicating that she was curious about what Ben was saying and perhaps getting a bit uncomfortable. You may have thought the Oscar winner was digging himself in a hole with his comments, but his wife didn’t show any signs of anger. Instead, she appeared to just be pondering what he said.
Finally, Jen did a shoulder shrug when Ben said, “It’s a lot of work, but it’s the best kind of work.” This shrug demonstrates complete agreement. She knows he’s speaking the truth and saying it with all the love in the world. Relationships do require a bit of work, especially in the hectic celebrity world.
Related Link: What We Can Learn from “the Work” Celeb Couples Do
Now, let’s move on to Ben’s non-verbal cues during his Oscar speech. First, you will see Ben do a double-take (look twice at Jen or at least in her direction), as if he was almost reminded to thank her in his speech. In this case, the spontaneous nature actually made his speech more from the heart rather than prepared or scripted.
When Ben mentions her name, his voice cracks slightly. As we all know, when we are very emotional, our voices will sometimes crack. Usually, it’s in an effort to hold back further emotions like tears. We will see this happen again at the end of his speech when he thanks his kids.
One other thing worth mentioning is that Ben has open arms when he says, “There’s no one I rather work with.” This motion tells me that he truly means what he says. Open arms when talking is a clear sign of trustworthiness. We might not think of work meaning love, but for this celebrity couple, “work” means just that.
SNL is where we see that everything is okay between the twosome. Before Ben brings Jen out, he speaks about the public and media misunderstanding his statement that their marriage is work (around 2:00). When Ben says, “That’s just not it,” he also starts to shake his head no. His non-verbal cues are reinforcing his words, a clear sign that he’s telling the truth. So I can immediately confirm that he didn’t mean anything but love for Jen in his speech.
When his wife comes on stage (about 2:30), both of them show strong eye contact right from the beginning – a primary sign of intimacy and romantic chemistry. If they weren’t so connected, Ben would have been more involved with the audience. Instead, they both light up when they see each other. It almost seems like they’re distracted by one another’s presence – a sure sign of true love, especially when on television. When the duo hugs and kisses hello, Ben’s right hand moves to Jen’s lower back as he rubs her. People who are very attracted to each other usually show it by touching the lower back, and rubbing is a very intimate and comforting non-verbal gesture.
Jen returns the affection but putting her right hand on Ben’s chest, which is also a very loving gesture that reveals an intimate relationship. Her left hand goes to Ben’s lower back as well. Throughout all of these hand movements, they are maintaining eye contact and smiling very proudly and sincerely at each other.
The most important non-verbal cue of all occurs when you see Jen almost fall. This misstep happens because she is so secure with Ben that she puts all her weight on him. Once Ben moves, she has to regain her balance because she was using Ben as her pillar, something that only happens when you truly trust and love someone.
When they say goodbye to each other (about 4:00), the SNL host pulls his wife closer and whispers something along the lines of “I love you very much” in her ear. We see Jen’s eyes roll towards Ben to give him her full attention. She then shows a real smile and says “I love you too” before she walks off stage.
So the only thing between Jen and Ben is love and lust. Yes, there is work involved in maintaining a long-term relationship or a healthy marriage, but it’s similar work to a stay-at-home mother or father. It’s hard work, but it’s work we put in to make something special last.
Jared Sais is co-author of the website The Non-Verbal Game, where you can find free downloadable content. He is an expert in non-verbal communication, who specializes in body language, micro-expressions and lie deception as they relate to life and love.