Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner seemed like the perfect pair — until now.
The news is out that Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck's 10 year marriage is over. I think we’re all a bit disappointed to hear about their divorce, as they seemed like a happy, dedicated couple with three cute kids. I actually met Ben in person at his movie premiere for Good Will Hunting, and he was really nice. I was rooting for them!
Why did they fail?
I’m sure there are a lot of reasons we'll never know, but it shows me that I need to remind my clients that relationships are not perfect — no matter how rich, how attractive or how dedicated a couple seems.
Here are four important lessons we can learn from Ben & Jen's split:
1. Dating an addict has complications that NEVER fully go away.
Ben has clearly had issues over the years with both drinking and gambling. Even though Ben sought help for his drinking, it has been highly reported that he’s drinking and behaving in ways that probably don’t help his marriage. Addicts have lifelong issues that won't go away unless the addict WANTS to fix them. Even though Ben made a choice to fix his issues, he also made a choice to go back to his old ways.
2. Just because someone's tall, good-looking and rich doesn’t mean they're great long-term relationship material.
Ben was 6'2", never married, no kids, successful and seemed like a great guy. However, he also had bitter breakups with both Gwenyth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez that, supposedly, were because of a bad lifestyle of drinking, gambling and strippers.
I always see people waiting for their “Prince Charming” who think he can only come in a handsome package like Ben. They refuse to think this person can come in an average to below average height, slightly nerdy, bald, lives far away or divorced package. The truth is, great husbands aren't always a "10" in the looks department. (And that's OK.)
No one is perfect. Don't miss out on a real "Prince Charming" because they don't meet your "checklist" standards. Compromising is not settling! Give people a chance to fill your important needs.
3. Don’t idolize everyone else’s relationships, especially those "great ones" on Facebook.
It’s easy to assume that someone has it all — the perfect relationship! — because of the cute pictures we see in our timeline. (Didn’t we think Ben was the sweetest during his 2013 Oscar acceptance speech thanking his wife and kids!)
In my years of working in the dating industry, I’ve interviewed thousands of people about why their relationships failed. Many people admitted that there were conversations they refused to have and problems they didn't acknowledge because they wanted to enjoy the relationship. They assumed that if they dealt with these issues “later”, they would work themselves out because “that’s what couples do”.
I know I'm guilty of assuming Ben and Jen had it all. It goes to show that, behind closed doors, we don't know how happy people truly are.
4. Don't publicly trash talk your ex.
At the end of the day, if it doesn't work out, staying classy and not talking about your ex is the best way to go. Though they're probably dealing with a whirlwind of emotions at the moment, Ben and Jen have refrained from speaking badly of each other in the public eye. Keeping their divorce private is the right choice for them (and their kids).
The bottom line is: You still need your own identity, your own career and your own goals in your relationship because you can’t control (or fully predict) someone else's behavior.
No matter how much love and commitment there is between two people, if they can’t make difficult decisions together, it doesn't matter. Both sides have to commit to making the relationship work and following the commitments they’ve made to each other. If that doesn't happen, at least you still know yourself, right?
Unfortunately for Ben and Jen, three kids, two major careers and a beautiful life didn’t translate to a long, lasting marriage.
So learn from them and take a closer look at the person you choose to commit yourself to. Remember that a relationship is only as good as the two people in it.