Affleck 'trapped' by Garner marriage: What to do if it happens to you

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  • Ben Affleck
    Ben Affleck
    American film actor, director and screenwriter
  • Jennifer Garner
    Jennifer Garner
    American actress
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02:  Actors Ben Affleck and wife Jennifer Garner arrive at the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter on March 2, 2014 in West Hollywood, California.  (Photo by C Flanigan/WireImage)
Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner at a Vanity Fair party in 2014. (Reuters)

The well-worn excuse of every straying spouse for centuries, feeling 'trapped' in marriage usually means 'I don't like being faithful.' 

But to be fair to Ben Affleck, he and ex-wife Jennifer Garner now appear to be the best of friends and co-parents, while he denies ever straying during their relationship. 

The actor talked openly on 'shock jock' Howard Stern's podcast this week about his decade of marriage to Garner, with whom he has three children, and made it clear that no straying took place — instead, he admitted that he felt 'trapped.' 

Stern asked what would have happened if the couple had stayed together, and Affleck admitted they may have been "at each other's throats".

"I'd probably still be drinking," he added. "It's part of why I started drinking … because I was trapped. 

"I was like 'I can't leave 'cause of my kids, but I'm not happy, what do I do?' What I did was drink a bottle of scotch and fall asleep on the couch, which turned out not to be the solution."

Asked about accusations of 'nanny-gate' - during the split, some tabloids suggested the children's nanny was involved - Affleck said, "The truth was, we took our time, we made the decision … We grew apart.

"We had a marriage that didn't work, this happens, with somebody that I love and respect, but to whom I shouldn't be married any longer. Ultimately, we tried. 

"We tried, we tried because we had kids. Both of us felt like we don't want this to be the model that our kids see of marriage."

Read more: Ben Affleck teases how his rebooted Jennifer Lopez romance came about: ‘It is a good story. It’s a great story.’

Ben Affleck, left, and Jennifer Lopez arrive at the premiere of
Affleck with JLo at the premiere of his new film The Tender Bar this week. (AP)

Now, Affleck is once again with Jennifer Lopez — who was his fiancée back in 2004, before they split up due to 'media pressures'.

The blended families are friends and even went trick or treating together at Halloween. 

"My responsibility to my children is my highest responsibility I have," said Affleck. "I'm not doing anything that's painful or destructive to them if I can help it. 

"That being said, I know that my life affects them...I've already inflicted that on them. You know, me and their mom are celebrities and that's hard, let's not bulls*** each other.

"During the divorce, they printed f****** horrible lies. Horrible mean lies."

Stern asked about the lies — clearly referring to rumours of infidelity — but Affleck replied, 

"I don't even want to give voice to it. Anything you read about that was bulls***."

Watch" Ben Affleck hesitated over rekindling romance with Jennifer Lopez

He and Garner seemingly found a way to separate and stay amicable for the sake of the children. She has said: "We're a lot like most families, I would imagine. Just being together during my time off and having fun. I love the laughter. Family is very important to me."

While her views on Affleck's brutally honest 'trapped' comments are not known, it's a common enough cause of marital breakdown.

But what does it really mean - and what can you do about it if it happens? 

"I’ve encountered many clients who’ve felt trapped in their marriages as a result of financial dependence or complex practicalities like business or home ownership," says relationship expert Rhian Kivits.

"The idea of disentangling from the marriage can be daunting and overwhelming and they feel like it’s much easier to stay put. They may feel obliged to stay because of their children or fear that they wouldn’t be able to start again. 

Read more: A complete timeline of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck's relationship

Husband and wife are arguing at home. Angry man is yelling at his wife.
Feeling trapped? You can find a route out. (Getty Images)

"Some people worry that their partner would make separation too difficult. Others doubt they can thrive alone or feel guilty because they worry about how their partner would cope. And then there’s the sinking feeling of failure that creeps in when they imagine that they’ll disappoint their family and friends by choosing to leave."

She recommends one to one counselling to sort out your fears and feelings. "Couple therapy may be appropriate down the line but it’s important to begin individually by giving voice to your own feelings and exploring what’s right for you," she goes on.

"It’s helpful to consider what’s keeping you trapped and find perspective on the issues.

"Ask yourself whether it’s possible to find some independence and freedom within the marriage," she goes on. 

Mature stressed married couple holding hands and talking to advisor at home. Worried indian man with his african american wife discussing to healthcare agent. Multiethnic couple in conversation with social worker at home.
Seeing a therapist can be a good start to help find a path. (Getty Images)

"Perhaps you’ve put your own interests and passions on hold in order to prioritise the marriage or you’ve believed that there’s been no space to be yourself. It’s possible to try shifting from co-dependence to independence without having to leave."

Talking to your partner is key, she adds. "Both partners deserve to thrive and your needs are important. It may be that your partner can offer solutions or help you make changes that create space so that you’re not feeling so stifled.

"Some people are trapped because they are in an emotionally, financially or physically abusive marriage and they are afraid to leave," says Kivits. "If that's you, seek support immediately. Safety has to come first."

Watch: Kim Kardashian West breaks down and admits she feels a 'failure'

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