Looking back on the year, I think we can all agree that the return of Bennifer was the love story our hearts needed.
And while Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez’s power couple comeback appeared to seamlessly unfold before our eyes this summer, it seems that the decision to go public with their relationship wasn’t an easy one to make.
Speaking to Howard Stern on Monday, Ben revealed that there was a lot to consider before he and Jen decided to pick up where they left off, 17 years after they called off their engagement in 2004.
Stern began by noting that Ben and Jen’s comeback was bound to attract a lot of attention from the media and public, and proceeded to ask the actor if this was a concern to him in the early stages of their reunion.
“The relationship now, I see you’re with Jennifer,” the host began.
“That even brings more attention to you. You’ve been through the scene when you’re constantly in the tabloids,” he added, a seeming reference to the intense media scrutiny surrounding Ben’s past struggles with alcohol addiction.
“Was there hesitation on your part, because now you’re a dad?” Stern asked. “Was there hesitation on your part to say, you know, ‘I can’t go through this again?’”
In response, the Argo director revealed that his main apprehension was the risk that the relationship — and accompanying media frenzy — might negatively impact his children.
“It crossed my mind for sure,” Ben said of his concerns before resuming the romance.
“My responsibility to my children is the highest responsibility,” he said. “I don’t want to do anything that is painful or destructive to them if I can help it.”
Ben shares three children — Violet, 16, Seraphina, 12, and Samuel, 9 — with his ex-wife, Jennifer Garner.
In light of their famous parents, Ben opened up about how the public attention that has surrounded his children can be difficult for him to navigate.
“My life affects them," he said. "Me and their mom are celebrities. That is hard. That is a cross to bear."
Ben and Garner got married in 2005, just a year after he and J.Lo announced that they had called off their engagement.
After 10 years together, he and Garner announced their split in a joint statement in 2015, and their divorce was later finalized in October 2018.
Speaking to Stern about the "horrible" tabloid coverage of his and Garner's high-profile divorce, Ben explained that their children were at the forefront of the decision to end their marriage.
“The truth was we took our time, we made the decision, we grew apart,” he said of the demise of their relationship.
“We had a marriage that didn't work,” he went on. “We tried because we had kids. We did not want it to be the model of marriage for the kids. We did our best. I knew she was a good mom, and I hoped she knew I was a good dad.”
During their marriage, Ben sought treatment in rehab for alcohol addiction on several occasions in 2008, 2017, and again in 2018 after their divorce was finalized. In the past, he has spoken about how his addiction was the catalyst for their split.
Now, talking candidly about his relationship with alcohol, Ben told Stern that difficulties in his marriage to Garner had been “part of why” he developed a drinking problem.
Before explaining that he had felt “trapped” in the marriage, the Oscar winner said that he’d “probably still be drinking” if he and Garner were still together.
“I'd probably still be drinking,” he said. "It's part of why I started drinking … because I was trapped."
He continued: “I was like ‘I can't leave because of my kids, but I'm not happy. What do I do?’ What I did was drink a bottle of scotch and fall asleep on the couch, which turned out not to be the solution.”
In spite of those comments, Ben has previously credited his ex-wife for her support throughout his recovery.
In a 2017 Facebook post in which he announced that he had completed treatment for his addiction, the father of three expressed gratitude for his friends and family, and went on to praise Garner specifically.
“I'm lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I've done the work I set out to do,” Ben wrote at the time. “This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery.”
In October this year, Ben and Garner were spotted together with their three children celebrating Halloween in Malibu. The exes were also joined by Ben’s new partner, Jennifer Lopez, as well as her 13-year-old twins — Emme and Max — whom she shares with Marc Anthony.
At the time, a source told People that all is well between the trio, and that they are navigating their new family dynamic with their respective kids at the center.
“Everyone gets along and the focus is always on the kids. Jennifer, Ben and Jen Garner all wanted the kids to have an amazing Halloween,” the source revealed. “The kids are friends and wanted to go trick-or-treating together.”