Inside Jennifer Garner & Ben Affleck’s Rocky Marriage – & His “Biggest Regret”


| LAST UPDATE 02/28/2023

By Lily Tipton

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner seemed like the perfect Hollywood couple until they announced their separation. After years of speculation over the reasoning, Ben finally came clean about what went wrong...

The First Meeting

Let's go back to where it all began. Ben and Jennifer's love story can be traced back to 2000 when the two met on the set of Pearl Harbor. Jennifer took on the minor role of Nurse Sanda while Ben played a leading love interest.

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Affleck played opposite Kate Beckinsale as the U.S. Army Corps pilot, Captain Rafe McCawley. Although he and Garner hit it off, it was strictly friends only as the actress was married to her Felicity costar Scott Foley. But 3 years later, everything was going to change.

"He's It"

In 2003 the pair's friendship was taken to the next level when they joined forces for the movie Daredevil. Garner was still married to Scott, and Affleck was engaged to Jennifer Lopez, so the two were already romantically involved with others. But still, that didn't stop them from growing closer as friends.

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20th Century Fox/Marvel/Kobal via Shutterstock

"He's your basic tall, dark, and handsome. He's it," Garner described her costar to People during the film's press circuit. "I can't imagine anyone in the world I would rather see swoop in and save the day than Ben." Was there more to this relationship than just friendship? Speculation was rife.

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Going Public

Soon after this interview, both Garner and Affleck's relationships came to an end. First up was Garner, who filed for divorce from Foley in April 2003. The following January, Ben and JLo called off their engagement. It didn't take long after that for the two Daredevil costars to make their first public appearance as a couple.

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Elise Amendola/AP via Shutterstock

The lovebirds made their romantic PDA-filled debut in October 2004 at Game 1 of the 2004 World Series. In an interview with Parade magazine, Garner admitted they had fallen in love through email. "Well, it helped that we were both single at the time. He's a very good writer... He's a very persuasive writer."

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The Proposal

Throughout their 9-month courtship, we were treated to just a few Affleck and Garner paparazzi shots, as the two mainly chose to keep their blossoming romance out of the public eye. Despite this, fans everywhere followed their relationship passionately, intrigued about what would come next for the costars turned lovers.

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It didn't take long for Ben to pop the question, proposing to his girlfriend on her 33rd birthday. In line with the tone of their entire relationship, the couple kept the engagement news to themselves, choosing not to confirm it publicly. "[They're] like high school sweethearts," a source told People. "They're very lovey-dovey."

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An Exciting Update

Not ones to wait around, the couple tied the knot just two months after getting engaged. The ceremony occurred in Turks and Caicos in June 2005, followed by an official statement to the public that shared the news of their nuptials and an exciting update.

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"They're married, and they're expecting their first child," their representatives announced. Months later, the expecting mom gushed to InStyle about their big day. "We were able to have a beautiful, private wedding, and I couldn't be happier," she said.

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Enter Violet Anne

On December 1, 2005, Ben and Jennifer became first-time parents, welcoming a baby girl into the world. Their representatives kept the details limited but announced that her name was Violet Anne Affleck and that mom, dad, and daughter were "doing great."

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London Entertainment via Shutterstock

The couple was natural-born parents, adapting to their new roles instantly. A People insider confirmed this, saying, "You took two of the best people, who have the most love and affection for each other, and just when you think the ultimate is the two of them finding each other, this little girl came into their lives." 

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Family of Four

Clearly loving parenthood, the couple kept the ball rolling and excitedly announced the upcoming arrival of baby number two. "We're so excited, obviously," Garner happily told Access Hollywood. "Yeah, been through it," she said. "It's all good; it's great. I'm really excited."

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Broadimage via Shutterstock

On January 6, 2009, the couple became parents to a second baby girl, with their reps confirming the news to People. "Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck gave birth to a healthy baby girl," they announced. A few weeks later, the baby's name was reported to be Seraphina Rose Elizabeth Affleck.

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Secret to Success

Five years into their marriage, considered a lengthy marriage in Hollywood, many wanted to know the secret to their marital bliss. In January 2010, Garner sat down with Parade and detailed how she and Ben work hard to keep their spark alive while parenting their two young children.

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Kevin Dietsch/UPI via Shutterstock

"You steal the time. You steal a date; you steal a kiss; you steal a whisper," she confessed. "After the kids are asleep, you, well, you know. Whatever it is. You slip away for a night. I hate to miss even one bedtime with my girls. I understand that being an actress as well as being at home isn't some heroic thing."

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Tough Love

It wasn't just Jennifer publicly praising their marriage and happy family life. In September 2010, Ben appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and laughed with the host about the gender imbalance in his home. "I have three women in the house. I get to be wrong three times a day," he laughed.

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Despite the jokes, the actor clarified that he was incredibly happy. "I am madly in love," he said. "I have the best family… I could not be luckier. I really have come right to the place where I was supposed to be. I've found myself at a place that is really wonderful and that I'm really grateful for."

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"Weird" Announcement

Keeping a good thing going, the Hollywood power couple announced they were expecting baby number three, due in February 2012. According to the Associated Press, they were "thrilled" with the news. Talking to People about being a working mom, she admitted she has a "split personality."

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On February 27, 2012, Samuel Garner Affleck was born - the couple's third child and first son. A few months prior, Garner had told Ellen DeGeneres that "it would be so weird to have a boy, as she had grown up with only sisters and had two daughters." That being said, she knew it would be "fun" for her husband, Ben.

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A Price To Pay

Now seven years into their marriage, Garner appeared on the cover of InStyle and was again asked about the secret to their successful marriage. "We both know we couldn't do what we do without each other," she said in the January cover story. "Ben always says, 'If you love it, we can make it happen.'"

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She also jokingly acknowledged the role that jewelry plays in their marriage, noting the various diamonds he had gifted her over the years. "He knows when to swoop in with the gesture. He's sweet that way. Honestly, I would do anything for that man because I know it's not to be taken for granted."

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Support System

Showing the world just how sweet he really is, Affleck used his Playboy interview to praise his wonderful wife, who he credited for his career success. "She is by leaps and bounds the most important person to me in that respect," the Good Will Hunting actor said about Garner.

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@benaffleck via Instagram

"Over the past ten years, she has allowed me to have a stable home life while accomplishing my professional goals. Once I'd made it, the most critical thing was that she said, 'If you're going to work 24 hours a day, that's cool. I'm going to be here.'" Garner was the definition of a supportive wife.

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Running Out of Energy

Marking nine years of marriage, Garner was interviewed by InStyle, where she once again praised her husband and their marriage. This time, she explained to the magazine how their courtship had evolved over the years, which is the reason it had been able to survive. 

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Broadimage via Shutterstock

"You can't expect to be courted all the time, and I don't want to court him right now - I don't have the energy!" she said in the October 2014 cover story. "But we're definitely in a very mindful place where we're making an effort to be together, do things at the same time, and be loving." The two seemed truly untouchable. For now...

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Calling It Quits

In what appeared to be out of nowhere, the Affleck and Garner ship sank when they announced their divorce in June 2015 - days after celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary. "After much thought and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to divorce," they said in a statement.

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Broadimage via Shutterstock

"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," they continued. "This will be our only comment on this private, family matter. Thank you for understanding."

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What Went Wrong?

Rumors began to spread about what had been behind this shocking breakup. It was widely speculated that Affleck's gambling addiction was to blame for the couple's breakdown - but this was refuted by multiple sources close to the couple. Others believed Ben's alcohol abuse from years back had resurfaced.

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Broadimage via Shutterstock

There were even rumors that Ben had been unfaithful with his children's nanny, and this had driven the couple to call it quits on their relationship. As usual, neither of the pair confirmed what had gone on, and the public was left to speculate on their own. But things would soon take a turn.

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Mixed Signals

In a confusing twist for the public, that following summer, the recently-separated couple was pictured together with their children in the Bahamas for what appeared to be a family vacation. They were seen smiling and enjoying various activities like one happy family. What was going on here?

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According to a People source, the trip had been planned long before the separation, and they decided to continue business as usual. "[Garner] is an amazing and attentive mother, and everything she does is with the kids in mind," they noted. "They had a lot of great activities they were able to do together and separately."

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Seeking Help

It was assumed the couple was trying to patch things up when they were spotted leaving marriage counseling. Before they announced their split in June 2015, they had frequently visited this center. Their mutual smile as they walked out of the clinic sent shock waves through the rumor mill.

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While the public and tabloids were already suspecting that the couple had reunited, the pair added fuel to the fire when they were photographed together with their children celebrating Ben's 43rd birthday. Affleck was even spotted wearing his wedding ring. Were they back on?

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“The Love of My Life”

As was soon to be revealed in Garner's 2016 Vanity Fair interview, the pair were not reuniting as suspected, but they were continuing to support each other like they always had done. "We still have to help each other get through this," she said. "He's still the only person who really knows the truth about things."

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@jlo via Instagram

"I didn't marry the big fat movie star; I married him," she said in the magazine's cover story. "And I would go back and remake that decision. I ran down the beach to him, and I would again. You can't have these three babies and so much of what we had. He's the love of my life."

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The Nanny Scandal

Not holding anything back, Jennifer went as far as to address the nanny affair rumors, confirming that they had been true. "Bad judgment? Yes. It's not great for your kids for [a nanny] to disappear from their lives. I have had to have conversations [with my children] about the meaning of scandal."

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That being said, the actress said the affair had not been a part of the couple's decision to separate. "We had been separated for months before I ever heard about the nanny. She had nothing to do with our decision to divorce. She was not a part of the equation," she explained.

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Facing His Inner Demons

A year after Garner called Affleck the love of her life, her ex-husband came forward to reveal his battle with alcohol addiction and praised his ex-wife for her support. "I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction, something I've dealt with in the past and will continue to confront," he confessed on Facebook in 2017.

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Broadimage via Shutterstock

"I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be," he continued. "I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it. 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."

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Custody Battle

Two years after announcing their divorce, Ben and Jennifer finally filed to make their separation final. Official documents revealed that the two were seeking joint custody of their children. This news finally ended all the reconciliation rumors that had surfaced over the last couple of years.

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BDG via Shutterstock

Over thirteen years since they first met as young Hollywood actors, Ben and Jennifer's beautiful romance had come to a bittersweet end. Yes, they were no longer in a committed marriage, but they were committed to caring for each other and their family forever. 

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The Truth Comes Out

Garner, the ever-committed ex-wife, showed her everlasting support when she was spotted driving Ben to rehab for a third time in the summer of 2018. "He is seeking treatment. He knew he needed help and was vocal about it," a People source reported.

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"It doesn't really bother me to talk about alcoholism... it's part of my life, it's something that I deal with," Affleck later recalled in an interview. "It's about yourself, your life, your family. And you know, people – we encounter these kinds of hurdles – and we have to deal with them."

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A Bittersweet End

Over a year since they officially filed for divorce and three years after first announcing their plans to separate, everything was finally settled, and the Affleck/Garner romance was well and truly in the past. People magazine reported that the final details were settled before lawyers at Garner's house. 

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BDG via Shutterstock

This update came forty days after Affleck confirmed he had completed his latest rehab stint and was committed to his recovery journey. "The support I have received from my family, colleagues, and fans means more to me than I can say," he gushed on Instagram.

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"My Biggest Regret"

It's clear Ben had been struggling for many years. But above it all, it was his public divorce that was the "biggest regret of [his] life." "Shame is really toxic," Affleck told the New York Times in a 2020 exclusive. "There is no positive byproduct of shame. It's just stewing in a toxic, hideous feeling of low self-worth and self-loathing."

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@jennifer.garner via Instagram

"I didn't want to get divorced, I didn't want to be a divorced person, I really didn't want to be a split family with my children," he added during an appearance on Good Morning America. "It upset me because it meant I wasn't who I thought I was, and that was so painful and so disappointing. In myself."

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J.Lo Enters the Picture

Soon after Ben had separated from one Jennifer in his life, it seemed he had another one on his mind - this time, it was Jen Lopez. Throughout his marriage to Garner, the two exes remained friendly, keeping in touch from time to time. But now, fresh off the heels of her Hustlers movie release, Affleck was singing her praises publicly.

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Kristin Callahan/ACE Pictures via Shutterstock

"She should have been nominated [for Hustlers]. She's the real thing," Affleck told the New York Times in the same 2020 interview. "I keep in touch periodically with her and have a lot of respect for her. How awesome is it that she had her biggest hit movie at 50? That's f—— baller."

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Feeling Trapped

Appearing on The Howard Stern Show in late 2021, Affleck looked back and admitted that he blamed their marital troubles for contributing to his drinking problem. "I'd probably still be drinking. It's part of why I started drinking … because I was trapped," he admitted about his unhappy marriage.

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"I was like, 'I can't leave 'cause 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." He went on to say that although the divorce had been difficult, it had been "underpinned with respect."

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Clearing the Air

Affleck's words on the Howard Stern Show were met with much backlash, as many criticized the actor for talking about his ex-wife in this way. In response, Ben sat down with Jimmy Kimmel to say that the public had "made it seem as if [he] was doing the exact opposite of what [he] said."

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"I would never want my kids to think I would ever say a bad word about their mom," he told Kimmel. While he believed his Stern interview had been meaningful, he said the listeners had taken one part of the interview and "just made [him] out to be the worst, most insensitive, stupid, awful guy."

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Return of #Bennifer

Come April 2021, just as the world was starting to get over the collapse of Ben and Jennifer, the actor stepped out with his new-old flame - Miss Lopez. In what seemed to be a full-circle life moment, the ex-fiances were pictured hanging out on numerous occasions. Was 'Bennifer' officially back in action?

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@jlo via Instagram

Although it was reported at first that they were "just friends," it eventually became clear that it was more than that when the singer posted photos of Affleck on her Instagram, wishing him a happy birthday. The last shot of them kissing made them Instagram official.

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The Journey to the Altar

The long-lost lovers announced their engagement in April 2022 after Affleck proposed with a green diamond ring. Three months later, on July 16, JLo confirmed that she and Ben had finally said 'I do" at a Vegas wedding. "It was the best night ever!" she gushed on her website.

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@jlo via Instagram

"It's a beautiful outcome that this has happened in this way at this time in our lives where we can really appreciate and celebrate each other and respect each other," she continued. "We always did, but we have even more of an appreciation because we know that life can take you in different directions."

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Big, Blended Family

Showing the world how far they have all come, Garner and Affleck have been snapped alongside Lopez and all of their children on several occasions. "The transition is a process that needs to be handled with so much care," Lopez said of their blended family. "They have so many feelings. They're teens. But it's going really well so far."

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Months following their wedding, Ben and J.Lo were pictured relaxing on a boat in France with some of their kids, suggesting the dust has finally settled in the love life of Mr. Affleck. With Garner happily dating businessman John Miller and Ben and Lopez as loved up as ever, we're praying it's smooth sailing from here on out!

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