"I want to thank you for working on our marriage for 10 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."What's wrong with that?
The criticism centers around this statement as lacking in cuteness, and focusing on the negative. It wasn’t the “right forum” for this type of declaration, it was a possible indicator that “something is wrong” in the marriage, he should have just stuck to “I love you and adore you and you’re perfect” -- basically whining that a major Hollywood star was uncomfortably honest about his relationship and said overly blunt things about marriage in one of the most public forums on the planet.Obviously, that's a summary from someone who doesn't agree with the criticism.
The critics are imagining themselves in the position of the wife and thinking they'd want to hear a nice compliment. But I bet Affleck planned his speech, with the help of his wife Jennifer Garner, and that the 2 of them decided they had an excellent opportunity to speak to everyone about marriage and this was the message they wanted to give: Work on it everyone. We — the pretty people, who seem so ideal — we have to work on it and we do work on it.
The line is crafted. 10 years was edited into 10 Christmases. It's been years and it's included family traditions and deep values that take a lot of attention. The first sentence creates some tension. Is he saying that the wife took care of the home front, making his life stable and pleasurable, while he went out in the world and furthered his career? The second sentence prolongs the tension — It’s good, it is work, but it’s the best kind of work — and we finally get to the resolution: there’s no one I’d rather work with. That means he is also doing this work. And that's subtly stated. He didn't praise himself as he said those last few words which reveal that he is a partner in the work. It's all carefully about her.
Well, there's also the "no one" — the nonexistent person he would prefer to "work with," that is, to have a marriage with, because it's marriage that equals work. The temptation of adultery is that it looks like a vacation from a marriage that seems like work. Imagine the opportunities strewn in front of Ben Affleck. There's a twist on that last line that creates anxiety for the sensitive listener: There's no one other than Jennifer that he'd like to work with (be in a marriage with), but does he ever play?