The Cut: On the "Work" of Marriage

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I wrote an essay for The Cut about great new Daphne de Marneffe book The Rough Patch. Here's a bit of the article...

When Ben Affleck accepted an Academy Award for Argo in 2013, he said, “I’d like to thank my wife [Jennifer Garner], who I don’t normally associate with Iran. I want to thank you for working on our marriage for ten Christmases. It’s good. It is work, but it’s the best kind of work. And there’s no one I’d rather work with.” Two years later, when they announced their separation (amid rumors he had an affair with the nanny), Garner told an interviewer, “I’m a pretty hard worker. It’s one of the pains in my life that something I believe in so strongly I’ve completely failed at twice.”

Marriage, by this popular analogy, is a job. You work at it. If you succeed, you reap rewards. If you fail, you are fired or quit. This model makes sense to our capitalist brains. We like to be set a chore and to be paid for its completion. But de Marneffe argues that this is a terrible way to think about the actual work required by marriage. Read the whole essay/review here.