In the latest issue of Vanity Fair, the actress gets candid about parting ways with her husband of 10 years. Touching base on everything from Affleck’s alleged affair with their children’ nanny, Christine Ouzounian, to her estranged spouse’s “cold” behavior, Garner opens up about why her marriage to the Oscar winner had to come to an end.
Telling the magazine that it’s been a “year of wine” ever since announcing her breakup in 2015, the mom-of-three first and foremost stress that what she had with Affleck was genuine and authentic.
“It was a real marriage,” she says. “It wasn’t for the cameras. And it was a huge priority for me to stay in it. And that did not work.”
“Let me just tell you something,” she continues, referring to rumors that Affleck had cheated on her the family nanny. “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.”
Garner also hits back at critics — including Affleck himself — who took her vow of silence during the whole scandal as indifference. According to her, she didn’t want to address the situation because it was too painful for her to acknowledge.
“Ben says, ‘Oh, you just don’t care,’ and I say, ‘No, it’s the opposite.’ It hurts me so much, and I care so much,” she says, choosing to not “give a shit” how the divorce to the public. “I cannot be driven by the optics of this. I cannot let anger or hurt be my engine. I need to move with the big picture always on my mind, and the kids first and foremost.”
However, despite the painful memories she now has of the marriage, Garner admits she would still marry Affleck again. The couple eloped to Turks and Caicos in 2005 and were married by Garner’s former Alias co-star and good friend, Victor Garber.
“I didn’t marry the big fat movie star; I married him,” she recalls that fateful day. “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. What am I going to do about that?”
She continues about Affleck, “He’s the most brilliant person in any room, the most charismatic, the most generous. He’s just a complicated guy. I always say, ‘When his sun shines on you, you feel it.’ But when the sun is shining elsewhere, it’s cold. He can cast quite a shadow.”
“Of course this is not what I imagined when I ran down the beach, but it is where I am,” she says of the split. “We still have to help each other get through this. He’s still the only person who really knows the truth about things. And I’m still the only person that knows some of his truths.”
Though Garner seems to be firm on her stance to proceed with the divorce, she admits she understands why the public would want them get back together. In fact, she confesses to wanting Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston to reconcile when the A-list pair broke up in 2005.
“When Jen Aniston and Brad Pitt broke up,” she quips, “I was dying to see something that said they were getting back together.”
She adds, “No one needs to hate him for me. I don’t hate him. Certainly we don’t have to beat the guy up. Don’t worry—my eyes were wide open during the marriage. I’m taking good care of myself.”
“It’s one of the pains in my life that something I believe in so strongly I’ve completely failed at twice,” she says, explaining about having two broken marriages under her belt. (Garner was also previously married toScott Foley for two years.) “You have to have two people to dance a marriage. My heart’s a little on the tender side right now, and it’s always easier to focus on the ways that you feel hurt, but I know that, with time and some perspective, I’ll have a clearer sense of where I let the system down, because there’s no way I get off in this.”
As for how she feels about Affleck now? While she continues to try to remain cordial to her ex for their children — Violet, 10, Seraphina, 7, and Samuel, 4 — she does have a few things to say about Affleck’s post-breakup back tattoo of a giant phoenix rising out from the ashes.
“You know what we would say in my hometown about that? ‘Bless his heart.’ A phoenix rising from the ashes. Am I the ashes in this scenario?” Garners muses with a wink. “I take umbrage. I refuse to be the ashes.”