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Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck—one of Hollywood’s most famous former couples—made headlines again after Ben opened up to the New York Times about how he thinks their divorce is the “biggest regret” of his life.
Let’s do a deep dive into their relationship, why they divorced, and how Ben is dealing with the “hideous feeling of low self-worth and self-loathing.”
Summer 2000: Ben Affleck meets Jennifer Garner on the set of Pearl Harbor. The movie flopped with critics but it created the foundation for a modern Hollywood romance. At the time, Jennifer was married to fellow actor Scott Foley.
December 2001 to March 2002: Ben films the notoriously bad Gigli with Jennifer Lopez. The unlikely pair fall in love and begin dating.
Summer 2002: Ben and Jennifer Garner develop a relationship on the set of Daredevil but stay with their partners. Ben later discusses the courtship in a Playboy interview. “We met on Pearl Harbor, which people hate, but we fell in love on Daredevil,” he says. “By the way, she won most of the fights in the movie, which was a pretty good predictor of what would happen down the road—my wife, holding swords and beating the living shit out of me.”
Fall 2002: Ben proposes to J.Lo with a 6.1-carat pink diamond from Harry Winston. J.Lo spilled on the proposal during an interview with Diane Sawyer, saying, “I had cried a lot over sadness over the years. And for the first time in my life, I cried incredible purging tears of happiness.”
January 2003: Ben and Jennifer Garner appear on Dinner for Five, and it’s clear she’s head over heels in love with him. Ben is still engaged to Jennifer Lopez, which explains why he doesn’t really respond to Jennifer Garner’s flirtation.
March 2003: Jennifer Garner announces her separation from Scott Foley. Scott later says in an interview with TV Guide that “nobody else was involved” in their split and that stardom was to blame for the breakup.
May 2003: Garner files for divorce from Scott Foley, citing irreconcilable differences. She keeps busy between filming Alias and fan favorite 13 Going on 30.
January 2004: Ben and J.Lo call off their engagement. Jennifer Lopez later wrote about the breakup in her 2014 memoir True Love, saying, “It felt like my heart had been torn out of my chest.”
October 23, 2004: Ben and Jennifer Garner make their first public appearance as a couple at game one of the World Series (featuring the Boston Red Sox, Ben’s favorite team). To any outsider, it was clear—the stars were in love.
October 24, 2004: The couple makes another appearance at game two of the World Series.
December 1, 2005: Jennifer gives birth to the couple’s first daughter, Violet.
May 24, 2006: Jennifer visits Ben on the set of Gone Baby Gone in Boston, and they appear in love as ever.
January 5, 2007: The power couple hits the red carpet for the Golden Globes. Ben is nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Hollywoodland.
January 25, 2008: Jennifer jokes about Ben being a homebody in The Independent. “I’ll promise you one thing: He is not boring,” she says. “You can’t get him to go out somewhere, but at least you can have a good conversation with him. Just as long as you’re willing not to leave the couch.”
August 2, 2008: The couple are caught leaving a Miami Beach restaurant as Jennifer shows off a second baby bump.
January 6, 2009: The couple’s second daughter, Seraphina Rose, is born.
January 2010: Jennifer tells Parade about her relationship with Ben. “Ben is sexy and kind, but he’s also a riot,” she says. “We can be very goofy together.” She also says that they steal time together to be romantic: “You steal a date, you steal a kiss, you steal a whisper. You sit next to each other on the couch with computers on your laps. After the kids are asleep you…well, you know. Whatever it is. You slip away for a night, which we’ve only just now done for the first time.”
October 2010: Ben talks about his family on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. “I have three women in the house. I get to be wrong three times a day,” he says, adding, “I am madly in love. I have the best family.”
December 2011: Jennifer tells InStyle that she would do anything for Ben. “We both know we couldn’t do what we do without each other,” she says. “Ben always says, ‘If you love it, we can make it happen.’ 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 taken for granted.”
October 2012: Ben again talks about how kind and wonderful his wife is for a cover story in the Hollywood Reporter. “She truly is kind,” he says. “She means no one any harm. She doesn’t have ill will for any person....It’s one of those things where it becomes almost aggravating at times. Every time I go, ‘Fuck him!’ I see in her face that she just thinks that’s petty and small.”
December 2012: The famous couple is spotted at Build-a-Bear, celebrating Violet’s seventh birthday.
January 2013: Ben accepts the Golden Globe for Best Director for his work on Argo. He gushes to a proud Jennifer in the audience, saying, “I adore you, I love you,” and, “You’re my everything.”
March 2013: Argo wins Best Picture at the Oscars, and Ben again speaks about his marriage, thanking Jennifer for working on it with him. “It’s good,” he says. “It is work, but it’s the best kind of work.”
May 2013: Ben hosts Saturday Night Live for the fifth time, and Jennifer joins him onstage for his monologue. The two joke about Ben’s awkward Oscars speech where he called their marriage “work,” and Jennifer says he should have called it a “gift” instead.
November 2014: Jennifer tells Elle that Ben has always encouraged her to pursue her career no matter what. “My husband is always the one saying to me, ‘You have to work, you have to work. This is part of who you are. We’ll figure it out,’” she says. “That’s powerful, when your partner has that serious mantra.”
June 27, 2015: Christine Ouzounian, the couple’s nanny, leaves with Ben from a family vacation in Bahamas to go to a charity poker event in Las Vegas with Ben and Tom Brady. She sends friends the now-infamous photo of herself wearing the Patriots quarterback’s Super Bowl rings.
June 30, 2015: The world is shocked when Jennifer and Ben announce their split after 10 years of marriage (basically an eternity in Hollywood).
July 30, 2015: News breaks that Christine purposefully tipped off the paparazzi, so she and Ben would be seen together.
November 2015: Jen is spotted spending time with Ben’s mom and daughter Violet, despite her separation from Ben.
March 1, 2016: Jennifer gets extremely candid about the demise of her relationship in an interview with Vanity Fair. She also dismisses the rumors of Ben’s affair with Christine, saying, “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. Bad judgment? Yes. It’s not great for your kids for [a nanny] to disappear from their lives.” She also says, “It was a real marriage. It wasn’t for the cameras. And it was a huge priority for me to stay in it. And that did not work.”
March 14, 2016: Ben addresses the comments Jen made in Vanity Fair in an interview with the New York Times. “Jen’s great,” he says. “She’s a great person. We’re on great terms. I just saw her this morning, so that’s the reality that I live in. She felt like she wanted to discuss it and get it out there and get it over with, so she could say, ‘Look, I already talked about it—I don’t want to do it again.’”
March 16, 2016: Jen appears on the Today show and assures fans they’re all doing fine. “We’re doing really well,” she says. “The kids are great. They’ll be getting up in the morning and going to school soon, and Ben is there and he’ll be taking them. We will make it work.”
March 16, 2016: That same day, Ben appears on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. When asked about the divorce, he responds, “We’re good friends and we’re doing our best and our kids are fabulous.”
March 25, 2016: Ben appears on CBS This Morning, saying, “Life doesn’t always turn out exactly the way you want. We’re doing our very best and we’re putting our kids first. That’s how we’re focusing on our day-to-day lives. And we don’t know what the future’s going to hold. Each step that we take is one where we prioritize our children and everything else comes second. She’s just so good at doing that and sets such a good example. And that’s a lead that I follow.”
May 5, 2016: Jennifer brings children Violet, Sera, and Sam to join Ben in London while he films Justice League.
May 8, 2016: Ben tweets his appreciation for all the moms in the world on Mother’s Day—possibly a nod to his estranged wife.
I wish I had more than 140 characters to express my gratitude to all the moms out there,mine especially. Thank you for being you #MothersDay
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) May 8, 2016
November 19, 2016: Ben and Jen are spotted leaving couples therapy together in L.A.
November 28, 2016: About a week later, the couple is again spotted together, this time at breakfast with son Sam in Brentwood, California.
December 12, 2016: Ben delivers a Times Talk at the NYU Skirball Center for Performing Arts, calling Jen “the world’s greatest mom.”
December 23, 2016: Despite their split, Jennifer, Ben, and their children spend the holidays together in Montana.
February 5, 2017: Ben and Jen are seen together before the 51st Super Bowl—their last photographed outing before the official announcement of their divorce.
March 8, 2017: Jennifer and Ben reportedly call off their divorce and separation. A source tells People that Jennifer “really wants to work things out with Ben” and “they are giving things another try.” The same week, TMZ reports that the divorce is “very much on,” and Jennifer is spotted without her ring.
During March, Ben also entered rehab and posted about it on his Facebook. He wrote:
“I’m lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my coparent Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I’ve done the work I set out to do. This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery.”
April 13, 2017: Jennifer officially filed for divorce, according to TMZ.
July 2017: Ben is reportedly dating producer Lindsay Shookus.
August 15, 2018: Jennifer reportedly isn’t in a rush to officially split from Ben and wants to give him time to “work on his health and sobriety” before proceeding with their divorce.
August 20, 2018: Ben and Lindsay split up as he was reportedly “never fully committed” to her.
August 22, 2018: Jennifer reportedly staged an intervention at Ben’s home, prompting him to check into rehab.
October 4, 2018: Ben revealed to his Instagram followers that he recently completed a 40-day stay at a treatment facility for alcohol addiction. He wrote, “I am fighting for myself and my family....As I’ve had to remind myself, if you have a problem, getting help is a sign of courage, not weakness or failure.”
A post shared by Ben Affleck (@benaffleck) on Oct 4, 2018 at 12:48pm PDT
October 5, 2018: Ben and Jen finalized their divorce after three years of separation and 10 years of marriage.
December 1, 2019: The former couple was seen shopping for Christmas trees with their three children in Los Angeles.
February 17, 2020: Ben opened up to the New York Times and admitted his divorce from Jennifer is the “biggest regret” of his life. He told the publication, “Shame is really toxic. 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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