Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are divorcing after 10 years of marriage. The usual reaction to celebrity divorce is essentially no reaction; it happens so often. Why is the internet in mourning over this couple? Because as Hollywood couples go, they’re normal. They’re relatable. They’re kinda boring. And for that reason, we can see ourselves in them. Pulling for Ben and Jen is like pulling for our own marriages to work.
The couple marked their 10 year wedding anniversary on Monday, and on Tuesday they released this statement:
“After much thought and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to divorce. We go forward with love and friendship for one another and a commitment to co-parenting our children whose privacy we ask to be respected during this difficult time. This will be our only comment on this private, family matter. Thank you for understanding.”
When it comes to celebrity couples, we see the highlight reels of their lives together. But with our rampant use of social media, our own lives are starting to be that way too, aren’t they? How many couples on your Facebook feed are you constantly looking at thinking, “Aw. They look so happy together.” In reality, we have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes. People don’t generally tend to Instagram their arguments. They don’t set Facebook statuses that say, “Over dinner last night I realized my husband and I have absolutely nothing in common anymore. LOL.”
We’re pulling for this relatable couple because we see ourselves in them. Not exactly, obviously — but loosely. We want to be assured that happy endings are possible. We want to know that all of those loving images we see are real. Witnessing a seemingly stable, normal couple split up makes us reflect on the fact that marriage is hard. Really hard.
The reaction to the split is predominantly a bunch of “NOOOOO!” comments with some side-taking thrown in for good measure. Ben is a loser. Jen can do better. She’s boring. He’s a gambler. But, they have kids! Doesn’t anyone stay together anymore? The couple is reminding us today that not all marriages work. That sucks. And it sucks even more when there’s kids involved. But sometimes you just need to move on… and be grateful that you’re not a movie star whose painful moments play out on the internet, on a constant loop, for the world to comment on.