It’s rare that a Hollywood celebrity speaks truth in the face of superficial glitz.
“...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.”
Cue the gasps and immediate speculation that their relationship is on the rocks.
“Is Ben Affleck trying to tell us that he and Jennifer Garner are headed for divorce?” asked one clueless headline on the Internet.
For anyone who is actually married, Affleck’s words might have surprised you with their frankness, but not for their honesty.
The blogosphere explosion over a simple, “thank you” has me thinking that we just don’t talk about this stuff enough.
Good marriages are work. You can’t just merge your life with someone else’s and push autopilot. It requires attention and devotion and sacrifice and spending waaaay more time than you should researching things like the purchase of your next blender because your husband is super anal about things like that.
OK, that last one is probably just me. I watch videos comparing the Blendtec to the Vitamix because if I don’t I won’t be an equal partner in the life-changing decision that is our next blender purchase. See what I mean by sacrifice and devotion?
But you don’t have to take it from me. When I think of high-profile marriages in our community I think of Val and Jerry Demings.
He’s the sheriff of Orange County. She’s the former Orlando police chief who ran and lost against Dan Webster for Congress. And her name was recently floated by a pollster testing potential Democratic candidates for governor. You don’t get more visible than that.
I asked Val Demings what she thought of Affleck’s comment. Yes, she did watch it – happened to catch the last hour or so of the Oscars after a day at the Daytona 500 on Sunday.
“For a couple seconds I thought, ‘Whoa,” Demings told me. “Then I really thought about it and I said, “You know, he’s so right.”
Too often we see successful couples and assume it’s somehow easy for them. And, in many cases, it’s not.
“With Jerry and me, we both chose to be in law enforcement,” she said. “We knew going into it that law enforcement was a 24-7 job. We wanted to be normal, but under abnormal conditions. We wanted the marriage, the children and the family pet. It was a lot of give and take, struggles and sacrifice to make it work.”
With their youngest of three sons now in college, things are a little easier at home.
But she said that they still have one tradition they began when they realized they were becoming more like “ships passing in the night” than a married couple.
“We started scheduling a date night and didn’t compromise it,” she said. “We still have a date night to this day.”
So there you go. A leader in our community who isn’t afraid to acknowledge out loud that marriage is work.
Couples should be proud when they nurture their relationships along with careers, kids and all kinds of other pressures people face today.
Nobody ever hands a report into the boss and says, “Boy, that was a breeze. I could do two or three more of those tomorrow if you want me to.”
No, you want everyone to know how hard you worked. How you had to spend extra time on the weekend or go put together a lot of spreadsheets that only you understand.
We ought to think about marriage like that too. Too many Hallmark cards talk about how we love each other effortlessly.
I’m sure my husband would be the first in line to buy a card that says, “I love you even though you didn’t read all 300 reviews on Amazon about our new dishwasher and even though you made me take the kids to school two times last week because you keep scheduling work interviews during the time you are supposed to take the kids to school.”
And I would be flattered to receive it.