Lopez and Affleck’s marriage proves that separation and divorce are not evidence of failure

On Saturday night, a husband and wife waited their turn in front of Little Whitechapel in Las Vegas to tie the knot. The bride used the restroom to wear a dress from an old movie, while the groom wore an old jacket in the men’s room. The clock struck midnight, and after walking down the aisle to the bridal beat of a wireless speaker, the couple were officially husband and wife. Who are the newlyweds? They are Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck.

The event may seem like an unusual celebrity wedding. But given the history of Lopez and Affleck’s romance – or “Bennifer” as the duo is known for short – it was a fitting celebration, one that defies convention and ditches pomp and pageantry in favor of simplicity and spontaneity.

You probably know the key points in Bennifer’s story. But in case you need to update: The pair dated for a year and a half in the early 2000s, then got engaged before their wedding was abruptly called off in 2003 due to what they described as “excessive media attention.” After a few months, they divorced. They are associated with other people. In 2004, Lopez married singer Marc Anthony. They had twins and then divorced in 2014. Meanwhile, Affleck married actress Jennifer Garner in 2005. They had three children, and they separated in 2018.

All this meant that the potential for a revival of the duo Bennifer was very slim, but in May 2021 photos of the famous couple reunited, injecting an incredible wave of nostalgia and excitement into the Internet world. The duo then confirmed the news of their dating at the end of the month.

Theirs is a love story that will bring hope to even the most skeptical among us. But it also teaches us some valuable lessons in relationships. Take for example the media portrayal of Lopez’s love life over the years, much has been raised about the singer’s “failed” relationships. Besides her ex-husbands (she was also married to businessman Ojani Noa from 1997 to 1998, and dancer Chris Judd from 2001 to 2002), inclusive. Her past relationship list includes rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs, baseball player Alex Rodriguez and musician Drake (according to rumors). It’s a story we see all too often: when a woman’s relationship breaks up, she is seen as some kind of social and biological failure, especially if she’s over thirty. As a result, those relationships that don’t last are seen as a waste of time.

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The fact that Lopez is now happy to reconnect with one of her former lovers proves that this is not the case. Popular culture has always sold us the myth that we should look down on past relationships with bitterness and contempt, but why? In some cases this may be true and even necessary, but it is not always so. Not all relationships last forever, as most are meant to last for a limited time, and that’s okay.

This does not mean that all exes should try to rekindle their romance. But to label every previous relationship as a failure would be a mistake, and it’s an ingrained old view that prioritizes marriage above all else. It is certainly more comforting to think of our past relationships than periods of our lives that once had meaning. No matter how long those relationships last, they teach us a lesson, don’t they? And if it’s part of a bigger story that eventually leads us to the “right partner”, who says it’s not important?

The Bennifer duo defy convention in other ways as well. Take the simple fact that Affleck and Lopez, aged 49 and 52 respectively, decided to settle down together later in life. Both of them actually lived through the story of “marriage and children” forced upon us all in our late twenties and early thirties.

Women in particular are told to pay attention to our “biological clocks”, and given the way romantic love is treated as a sign of societal approval, we put enormous pressure on ourselves to get married. To make matters worse, of course, single women are still seen as revolutionaries, as if they have subverted cultural norms by having the courage to go through life alone.

But the Bennifer duo show us that patience can pay off in the long run. And while we may not all end up with the one who once walked away, it’s comforting to see the public celebration of this unique kind of love story. No one should feel obligated to settle with someone just because their years of social conditioning dictate it.

As Lopez said in her post, “Don’t stop looking long enough and you’ll probably live the best moment of your life at the fast food drive-thru in Las Vegas at 12:30 am in the Tunnel of Love. […] With your children and the person with whom you will spend the rest of your life.” Lopez concluded that love is something to wait for, and given the state the world is in right now, that’s exactly the hope we all need.

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