Two stories that caught my eye making headlines in the last week concerned celebrity marriages, that of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith and the one between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner.
To put it in a little context, I absolutely love Will Smith – one of my favourite actors and seldom in a bad movie, and I have historically not been a huge fan of either Ben Affleck or Jennifer Garner actingwise [although Ben won some HUGE points back with his direction and acting in Argo which I really loved].
So a news story about an actor I really dig and two that I really don’t so much.
The headline of the Will Smith/Jada Pinkett-Smith article was ‘Jada Pinkett-Smith on Will Smith Open Marriage Rumors: I Tell Him to “Do Whatever You Want”‘
Now the article was more suggestive then direct and so it leaves a lot of interpretation for the reader, but some of the statements Jada made really did not sit well with me.
“I’ve always told Will: You can do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be okay,” she said, without going into further specifics.”
“Because at the end of the day, Will is his own man,” she said of the Men in Black star. “I’m here as his partner, but he is his own man. He has to decide who he wants to be and that’s not for me to do for him,” she said, adding: “Or vice versa.”
They give a picture of a very me-centered marriage relationship. Every man for himself [and every woman for herself] I’m not sure being able to look in the mirror and be okay with yourself is a strong foundation for loving your wife in a marriage. There is some truth to “that’s not for me to do for him” in terms of allowing her husband the freedom to be the right person in the marriage, but “he is his own man” I would suggest is not true. No you aren’t. You made a commitment to your wife in front of family and friends, and God [well they wouldn’t necessarily say that I guess] and you have given yourself to this woman, to love and serve her which means when you look at yourself in the mirror it should all be about asking whether you are doing that well.
Then I read the article about Ben and Jennifer titled ‘Jen on Ben’s Oscar Speech Marriage ‘Diss” and cheered them on. I watched the Oscars ceremony where Ben made this speech and was stunned to hear how much flack he got for it:
Some speculated that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner’s marriage wasn’t as rosy as it appeared to be, when Ben Affleck decided to thank his wife during his Oscar acceptance speech by revealing that their marriage took “work.” “I want to thank you for working on our marriage for 10 Christmases. It’s good. It is work, but the best kind of work and there’s no one I’d rather work with,” he said, which some viewers deemed as a less than flattering thank you to his wife.
Jennifer seemed to fortunately understand her husband and get what he was saying:
“I had a friend call and say, ‘Are you OK?,'” she tells the British newspaper. “[But] I know Ben, I knew he meant it as the hugest, warmest compliment in the world. I think he was saying, ‘Look, what we have is really real and I value it above all and I’m in it with you and I know you are in it with me.’ That’s the way I took it.”
I think that, especially in Hollywood, Ben’s statement gave huge reflection and insight into marriage. Hollywood where you get marriages that can sometimes be measured in hours and days rather than years and eternities. Ten years is monumental for that context and speaking openly and honestly of the reality of what it takes to succeed and build a marriage is applaudable. With the kind of scheduling, locations and temptations associated with movie-making I imagine it probably takes a lot more work and concerted effort to build a strong marriage.
Don’t get me wrong here. I cannot judge either marriage from the basis of one media article. I just want to look at the focus points that the statements made by the married people give. The one has a strong selfish it’s-all-or-largely-about-me focus and the other one says we-are-in-his-together-and-some-of-it-is-going-to-take-hard-work-but-it-is-going-to-be-worth-it and of the two, I find the second to be far more honest, true and healthy for any type of relationship, but especially marriage.
Gained some more respect for both Ben and Jen with this one.