Why Bennifer's Built to Last: Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck Picked Up Where They Left Off, Only Better

They seemed ready enough in 2003, but Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez still had a lot of life to live through to figure out what they really wanted—which, once again, is each other.

By Natalie Finn Aug 21, 2022 2:00 PMTags
Watch: Jennifer Lopez & Ben Affleck's Georgia Wedding: ALL the Details!

Wait, what year is it?

There are a variety of valid reasons to ask that question, certainly, but right now we're asking because Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are married. To each other.

Which was a step they originally planned to take in 2003.

Yet here we are in 2022, the morning after the Afflecks swapped vows for the second time in as many months, this time in Savannah, Ga., in front of 100 of their nearest and dearest, including their respective moms and the groom's longtime friend Matt Damon.

And we must say, if anything was going to make us feel as if it were still the early '00s, we're glad it's the resurgence of Bennifer—the living proof that predicting the future is futile, doors that slam shut can be reopened and love works in mysterious ways.

Jennifer Lopez & Ben Affleck: Romance Rewind

No matter whatsoever that it's been more than 18 years since Lopez's rep unceremoniously confirmed the rumors that the couple's first engagement was over, the $1.2 million pink diamond back in its box, just a few days after Affleck had curtly told the Associated Press at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, "Everything's going along fine. We're good."

It seemingly hadn't been great for awhile, though, the duo having already called off their plans for a September 2003 wedding.

Instead, Lopez became Mrs. Marc Anthony on June 5, 2004, her third trip down the aisle.

Still, she was admittedly "heartbroken" that it didn't work out with Affleck, she reflected in the September 2011 issue of Vanity Fair. "I had a lot of hopes and dreams on it." (By then her marriage to Anthony was on the rocks, Lopez admitting in the interview it was "getting increasingly harder" to balance their schedules. On July 15, 2011, they announced their split and she told the magazine on July 20, before the issue went to press, "This was the hardest decision I've ever had to face. I really wanted this family to work.")

In 2012, Affleck had a banner year as the director and star of Argo, the culmination of his own way back to professional fulfillment after some admittedly less-then-stellar years before he decided to get behind the camera himself. And wouldn't you know, people still wanted to know if he and Lopez were in touch.

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

"We don't have the kind of relationship where she relies on me for advice," Affleck told The Hollywood Reporter in 2012 (eight years after their breakup and now 10 years ago). "But we do have the kind of relationship where there'll be an e-mail saying, 'Oh, your movie looks great.' I remember when she got American Idol. I said, 'This was really smart. Good luck.' I touch base. I respect her. I like her. She's put up with some stuff that was unfair in her life, and I'm really pleased to see her successful."

And after Argo won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2013, Lopez told Ellen DeGeneres she was glad to see it happen.

"They were really hard on us in the press when we dated back in the day, on movies and things like that," she recalled. "So it was a nice moment. It was nice to see him have that moment. I was really happy for him."

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck Seemingly Recreate "Jenny from the Block"

Talking to HuffPost Live in 2015, she referred to their intense romance as "a high-profile relationship that fell apart in a really bad way" amid a really low career point for her. And yet, Lopez also said, she had "no regrets. I would do it all over again, I think. I really would. Even the relationship part. I just feel like everything is part of your story and your journey and is meant to be and helps you grow if you're willing to look at it, and I'm willing to look."

Fast-forward six years and, reader, she did it all over again.

But not quite. With five children between them and a whole lot more mileage on the odometer of life, they're older, wiser and giving zero f--ks about what the media might have to say about their romantic reunion. (Though, in case they ever wonder, the response ranged from overjoyed to downright repentant, with some embracing the chance to reflect on why, as Affleck has described what they were like 19 years ago, they were "so f--king mean.")

And oh, the lessons that each had learned—about love, fidelity, family and, perhaps most importantly, themselves.


Rich Fury/WireImage

"Things just happen, and you're in the middle of it and you just try to navigate your way through it being a good person," Lopez told Vanity Fair in 2011. "Doing the best you can. Trying to learn from the ups and downs. When it comes to love and relationships, what I've learned now is that the the most important relationship is with myself. And it took me a long time to get to that place. But I finally feel that I understand that. It wasn't anyone else's fault, but I couldn't be right in any relationship until I got more in touch with who I was, and what I needed and what I wanted.

"And getting to that place for me has been the real journey, the real task," Lopez continued, "where I realize that the main relationship I needed to have and the real love had to be with myself."

After divorcing Anthony, with whom she shares now-14-year-old twins Max and Emme, she dated dancer Casper Smart for years and in 2019 said yes to Alex Rodriguez's proposal, their coupling also having the vibe of the inevitable about it.

But what isn't meant to be will not be.

Jennifer Lopez Through The Years

And if she was looking for someone who'd also been busy learning from life's ups and downs over the years, she'd be hard-pressed to find a guy who's been putting in the work more than Affleck.

"My life now reflects not just the person that I want to be," Affleck told WSJ. magazine for its December 2021/January 2022 issue, "but the person that I really feel like I am—which is not perfect, but somebody who tries very hard and cares very much about being honest and authentic and accountable."

Well then.

The Oscar-winning producer and writer has also weathered his share of turmoil since he and Lopez first dated, including a battle to maintain his sobriety and his 2015 split from Jennifer Garner, the mother of his three children, after 10 years of marriage.


"The biggest regret of my life is this divorce," Affleck told The New York Times in a February 2020 interview. "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. It's not particularly healthy for me to obsess over the failures— the relapses—and beat myself up.

"I have certainly made mistakes. I have certainly done things that I regret. But you've got to pick yourself up, learn from it, learn some more, try to move forward."

And little did he know, either, what the future had in store.

"He's really making a huge effort," a source told E! News toward the end of May 2021, about a month after the first sighting of Affleck visiting Lopez's house in Los Angeles sent Twitter into a frenzy (social media not realizing it had just been waiting for Bennifer all along...) The insider added, "J.Lo thinks Ben has really stepped up and loves this version of him."

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

All versions of Affleck have been pretty complimentary of his now-wife, if not about the time in their lives when they first dated. He told InStyle not long before the sighting that shook the world that she was the "hardest-working person I've come across in this business."

But while they had remained friendly and even in touch occasionally over the last decade, the timing for more was finally right when Affleck reached out to check in and see if she wanted to have dinner last spring.

Ben Affleck Through the Years

Which turned into another dinner, and another. "It's all very new and exciting, even though they have known each other forever.," a source close to Lopez told E! News in May 2021. "It's been fun to get to know each other all over again." Furthermore, a Lopez insider said after they vacationed in Montana together, "It's natural between them and the chemistry is unreal."

They were said to be in no rush to the altar when they first rekindled the flame, but ultimately they both decided there was no need to put off the inevitable.

Lopez "is ecstatic and can't wait to be his wife," a source told E! after Affleck popped the question in April, this time with a gleaming green diamond. "She believes it's true love and was meant to be."

Jennifer Lopez & Ben Affleck's Vegas Wedding

And then on July 16, they went ahead and told each other "I do" in Las Vegas before jetting off to Paris for a luxurious (and well-documented) trip with Emme and Affleck's daughters Violet and Seraphina.

"We did it,"  Lopez wrote in announcing through her "On the JLo" newsletter that the most surprising "new" couple of 2021 had tied the knot last month. "Love is beautiful. Love is kind. And it turns out love is patient. Twenty years patient."

You really just never know.

(Originally published June 12, 2021, at 8 a.m. PT)