It certainly wasn't the first sign that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner's marriage was essentially over, but it will be one of the lasting images -- Ben walking around Nova Scotia, Canada without his wedding ring. The date was April 16, 2015, one day before his wife's 43rd birthday.
The next day, Jen, back in Los Angeles, was half a world away celebrating her big day without her husband.
The A-list couple had battled reports of marital strife for years, but they had always chosen to shrug the rumors off. But, on June 30, 2015, rumor became reality: one of Hollywood's favorite couples announced they are splitting after nearly 10 years of marriage.
"After much thought and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to divorce. We go forward with love and friendship for one another and a commitment to co-parenting our children whose privacy we ask to be respected during this difficult time. This will be our only comment on this private family matter. Thank you for understanding."
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The duo shares three children together: Violet, 9, Seraphina, 6 and Samuel, 3.
National Enquirer, who has long reported that Ben and Jen were on the brink of a split, estimated that it could be a $150 million divorce.
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Of course, the couple never imagined it would end like this. Following failed high-profile romances (his with Jennifer Lopez, hers with Scott Foley) Ben and Jen began dating after they starred in "Daredevil" together. The movie flopped, but they both got something more out it: love.
"That's where I found my wife," Ben confessed to Playboy in 2014. "We met on 'Pearl Harbor,' which people hate, but we fell in love on 'Daredevil.'"
After a fairly tale romance, Ben proposed to Jen on her 33rd birthday in 2005. Just a few months later, the couple married in a private ceremony in the Caribbean.
"He is the base of my life," Jen said in 2012 of her man. "He is an incredibly loving and generous man."
At the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, Ben said of Jen, "She's the most beautiful woman out there."
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Regardless of the the positive affirmations by Ben and Jen, the rumor mill churned and churned.
Reports portrayed her a bit of a pushover when it came to Ben, saying that she basically let him do what he wanted. Ben's love of poker and gambling was apparently a sticking point with her. In May 2014 Ben was busted counting cards in Las Vegas and escorted out of the casino. Media outlets claimed Jen was embarrassed. In an interview with Details magazine, Ben said (in very choice words) that those were false.
He was a reformed bad boy -- Ben entered rehab in 2001 for alcohol -- but Jen embraced him for his flaws.
"I don't know how or why it works as well as it does," Garner told InStyle in January 2011 of their marriage. "Honestly, I would do anything for that man, because I know it's not taken for granted."
Eyebrows, however, were raised after Ben won an Oscar in 2013 for producing and directing "Argo." In his off-the-cuff speech, Ben said, "I want to thank you for working on our marriage for 10 Christmases. It's good. It is work, but the best kind of work, and there's no one I'd rather work with."
Many took that as a sign of marital struggles being aired out to the world. Jen later said the comments were meant as a compliment. Still, Ben was forced to clarify his comments to cool the controversy. "All marriages, all relationships to a certain extent, require your work. They require work and investment," he told Access Hollywood. "We work on it together, we try our best, nobody's perfect. She's more perfect than I am."
Investment, or lack thereof. According to sources, that's exactly what doomed this marriage — Ben may have been more committed to his work than he was to his wife and family.
"I definitely work less because Ben is so busy but we have three kids, that's just part of the deal," she admitted to the Telegraph. "I want to be a mom. I'm happy for him that he's as energized about work right now as he is. He should be out there doing it. That's just what makes sense for our family."
In April 2014, some mistook her comments to Jimmy Fallon to mean that Ben doesn't even help with parenting.
"Let's not overstate things. We are divided down a very mom-dad line. If it has to do with making food, or doing homework or anything that has to do with actually functioning — sorry it's true — that's a mom thing," she said at the time. "And then coming in just as you're getting them to bed and picking them up by their heels and swinging them around, that's a dad thing. Anything fun, that is Ben."
The end was clearly in sight, though, when the duo hadn't been photographed together for over a month - almost all of May 2015. Reports said Jen in New York, while Ben was in Los Angeles (with an occasional quick trip to Las Vegas.) On May 28, as rumor were reaching a fever pitch, Ben and Jen were finally photographed in Santa Monica, Calif. with daughters Violet and Seraphina. Perhaps knowing that paparazzi would capture them, the family outing may have been to just temporarily put off their inevitable announcement and to cool the rumors for the moment.
At the time, though, they both knew the damage had been done.
A source told Radar Online, "Jen has actually been preparing herself emotionally for this divorce for some time."
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