Jennifer Lopez Was Finally Happy With Marc Anthony After Their Divorce: Why Being Exes Worked Best for Them

May Shannon De Lima have as pleasant an experience post-split as J.Lo has

By Natalie Finn Nov 19, 2016 1:00 PMTags

Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony make a marvelous

Though their 2004 wedding was picture-perfect—and a tad scandalous, coming as it did on the heels of Lopez's broken engagement to Ben Affleck—the thrice-married J.Lo herself has since admitted that the honeymoon period was brief, even though their twins weren't born until 2008. They divorced in 2011.

"I hung in there for seven years," is how she put it to W this past summer. "I knew very quickly that it wasn't the right thing."

Moreover, "When my marriage ended, it was not easy to find forgiveness. It wasn't the dream that I had hoped for, and it would have been easier to fan the flames of resentment, disappointment, and anger. But Marc is the father of my children, and that's never going away. So, I have to work to make things right. And that is, by far, the hardest work I do."

J.Lo & Marc: The Arc of a Romance

All of which sounds tortuous, albeit necessary in order to maintain one's own peace of mind. And yet, despite the personal trials and tribulations Lopez was experiencing, her post-marital relationship with Anthony seems far and away more enjoyable than their marriage, judging by what the singer herself has said.

Being married to anyone is work, countless times more work if one or both people are as famous as Anthony and Lopez—who did put up an almost flawlessly united front while they were together.

"Everything is great about my marriage," Lopez mused to Latina magazine in 2010, about a year and a half before they separated. "First and foremost, we love each other, truly love each other in a way that's very deep and meaningful, not in a superficial sort of way. There's a deep respect, admiration and love for each other. We honestly believe that we make each other better people…We force each other to be better, and I think in a relationship, that's how it should be. You shouldn't be with somebody if he makes you feel less than who you are."

Kevin Winter/WireImage

That being said, she added, "What people don't talk about, which is interesting to me, is how you have to put as much work into your relationships as you do into anything else. 

"We put so much into our careers, and I'm all for that, but there's also a lot of work that goes into making a successful partnership and marriage. It's not easy, and anybody who's successful at it deserves a pat on the back. You've got to grow with each other; you've gotta bend over backwards for each other. It's a lot of stuff. Women have to find a balance where you can stand on your own so you don't lose your individual power. I can't just become 'us,' and I think women do that a lot—become his wife, his girlfriend."

And while Lopez was never in any danger of becoming merely "Marc Anthony's wife," sometimes the dynamic just isn't right—even when the perfection on paper persists.

Friendly Celebrity Exes

Which is probably why so many people are all aflutter over the kiss the exes—who had already been performing, making music and campaigning for Hillary Clinton together in recent months—shared after their surprise duet at the 2016 Latin Grammys last night.

Never mind that they've been closely co-parenting son Max and daughter Emme for years now, spending birthdays and other family milestones together, and have always operated with a certain level of affection. And double-never-mind that Anthony's been married for two years to model Shannon de Lima.

However, speculation went into overdrive when E! News reported today that Anthony and de Lima have separated. They couple had looked happy in a photo de Lima posted for Anthony's birthday on Sept. 16, just nine weeks ago, when she called him the best husband and friend she could have.

Marc Anthony Locks Lips With All His Friends After His Jennifer Lopez Kiss Raises Eyebrows

Couple that with Lopez being recently single, having broken up for good (at least, for now) with longtime on-and-off beau Casper Smart over the summer, and...

Sorry to burst your bubble, but a source insists to E! News that Anthony and Lopez are most certainly not back together.

"Not at all," the source reiterated.

Which isn't surprising when you consider how much happier Lopez has been with Anthony over the past five years, having him as an ex rather than as a husband.

Jennifer Lopez's Best Looks

Shortly before announcing their split in July 2011, Lopez told Latina in a joint interview with Anthony, "I believe in destiny and I believe that things are going to be what they're gonna be and for whatever reason, we were meant to share this time together."

She also made a point of saying how much they loved and respected each other—which, taken altogether, in hindsight seems like the words of a swan song.

Interestingly, Lopez's recent comments about the end of her marriage to Anthony resembled what his first ex-wife, Dayanara Torres, told People in 2008 in a rare interview about the breakup of their four-year marriage in 2004.

Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

"You don't plan the end of your marriage," Torres, a former Miss Universe, said. "I dreamed of finding my prince, but it doesn't always happen that way."

And like Lopez would later say, Torres said that their two kids together, sons Cristian and Ryan, were really what mattered.

"He's not someone we need to hide—he'll always be their father," she concluded. "And to this day, I don't think they've seen our divorce as a bad thing."

It may be some time, if it ever happens at all, before de Lima reflects on her marriage to Anthony—if they stay separated. They do not have any children together, and no details have been forthcoming yet about what triggered the split.

Big Celebrity Breakups

But since being Anthony's ex was a more tenable situation for Lopez, may de Lima find a similarly amiable resolution to whatever ailed their union.

To put any concerns about a weird dynamic to bed, we know that she and Lopez looked comfortable around each other, the sprawling family coming together for events and both Anthony and de Lima getting VIP treatment at J.Lo concerts.

On the flip side, Anthony had counseled Lopez in the past during her roller-coaster relationship with Casper. 

Last night at @JLo #AlliHave show w/ @shadelima and @magnusmediausa team.

A photo posted by Marc Anthony (@marcanthony) on

They had even gone right back to worth together in 2012, months after their split, on the talent competition show Q' Viva! The Chosen—which at least indicated a lack of truly bad blood.

"We have a great relationship," Marc told ABC News in February 2012. "A great working relationship as well. It's a certain shorthand, it's how we started, we started working together."

Asked if he ever had second thoughts about collaborating with his ex, Anthony admitted, "The question was, 'What would it be like?' You know what I mean, having to go through this whole process in the middle of what we were going through."

He smiled. "But it was just, like, 'Hey, what's up,' you know? 'How's everything?' 'Ah, good.' Jennifer is Jennifer."

Flash to a clip of the show, and Anthony saying he had his eye on two of the female contestants, and Lopez giving him a mostly playful swat upside the head.

There are reasons, personal to her, why Jennifer has enjoyed being Jennifer even more over the past five years than she did before. No one wants her individuality to get swallowed up by her marriage, but Lopez didn't ultimately have an issue becoming "Marc Anthony's ex-wife."

"I'll tell you that it wasn't something sensationalistic happening," Anthony insisted on Nightline in September 2011, when he also admitted he was not surprised when Lopez filed for divorce. "It was a realization on both our parts. So, you know, it wasn't shocking. These things happen. It was a decision that we made jointly."

"I'll always love Jennifer," he said. "She knows kids know that. Jennifer's a wonderful, wonderful woman, a wonderful mother, a wonderful friend."

Anthony concluded, "This is not a funeral. This is not a burial. This is just two people who came together and just realized...I'm saying that it wasn't sustainable the way it was, and that's that."

In fact, you might even have called it a rebirth for J.Lo.