The Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck split is splashed across every major newspaper in the United States, and everyone is talking about it. Most of the talk is of the “it’s so sad” variety. And it is. But it also really, really isn’t.
No one is inside of Affleck and Garner’s home, so right off the bat, let’s be honest about one thing: No one knows the real story. That said, there are some things we can infer. A couple who divorces after 10 years of marriage and three kids probably really did give it a good go. They probably did their best in terms of making it all work.
Sometimes relationships just aren’t meant to be forever. So let’s quit being sad.
It’s true that when people divorce, there is always the panic among married couples. If this could happen to them, could it also happen to us? No one is safe! So our first reaction is one of pity. And fear. And sadness. But the truth is, divorce can be empowering. It can be cathartic. It can be the opening of a new chapter that is so much better and happier than the ones that came before. Not every marriage is built to last. And that’s OK.
So let’s stop the pity party. Let’s stop saying “I’m so sorry” when we hear about divorce and start saying “congratulations.” At least some of the time.
More: 9 Events that may have led to Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner’s divorce
I have been married 12 years and plan to stay so for my entire life. But marriage can be challenging. Even with the right person. With the wrong person? That challenge might just not be worth it. So when we “mourn” Bennifer 2.0, we aren’t necessarily looking at the whole picture.
Yes, divorce is sad and hard for the children. But often, it is better, too. Children who have seen their parents fight constantly or be terribly unhappy might be relieved to have their happy parents back. Divorced couples can co-parent in such a way that the children are more secure and happier than before.
The next time I hear about a divorce, rather than turning to the woman with sad eyes and a heavy heart, I will ask her if she’s happy and how she feels. And then, depending on the answer, I may congratulate her. Divorce is hard. A horrible marriage is harder. It’s not a black and white issue. Maybe Bennifer 2.0 wasn’t built to last and maybe that’s OK.
Congratulations to Garner. Her life just became a lot freer and empowered.