The "Wife of" Problem: Even Jennifer Garner Worries About Being Known Only as Ben Affleck's Spouse

She's a beloved star, but the actress still has concerns that her own achievements may be overshadowed by those of her husband

When two celebrities get together, does it make them both more famous -- or does one of them get eclipsed by the other? That's a question that Jennifer Garner has wrestled with since marrying Ben Affleck in 2005. In a new cover story for Allure, the actress admits that she worries about being perceived as Ben Affleck's wife, rather than a person in her own right.

"I think especially for women, they can really lose their identity and just become 'wife of,'" says the star of the upcoming Dallas Buyers Club.

Garner, 41, admits that she often attends big events without her husband in order to avoid "too much" exposure as a couple.

"It's a very conscious decision," she explains. "Sometimes it's a pain because my heels are so high and it would be nice to have his arm. And he's such a great date! But it can be too much."

Another thing she's avoided: acting alongside her husband, whom she met when they co-starred in 2003's Daredevil. "Really, you don't want to see a couple onscreen," she insists. "People see paparazzi shots of us together all the time. There's no mystery. ... People are sick of us."

We wouldn't go that far! Affleck and Garner are one of Hollywood's cutest couples, and seeing photos of Jen at the playground with Violet, 7, Seraphina, 4, or Samuel, 17 months, always makes us smile. Still, Jen is right about one thing: People don't turn out to see real-life couples making out onscreen, unless there's scandal involved (like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs Smith, or Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise doing steamy sex scenes in Eyes Wide Shut). Affleck learned this lesson the hard way when he made two major bombs, Jersey Girl and Gigli, with then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez. His relationship with Garner is probably stronger for not sharing screen time.

Still: Is there really a danger of Garner becoming simply "wife of" Ben Affleck? It's true that Affleck's star has eclipsed hers since they married. Affleck has worked his way back up the ladder as a director and leading man; Garner has taken fewer projects and focused on raising their children. It's partly luck of the draw that Garner hasn't had a hit in years, but it also seems like her energy is more divided than his. That's a familiar story to a lot of couples, regardless of whether they're celebrities.

Thing is, Garner is a celebrity, with her own fans, her own hit films (Juno, 13 Going on 30), and a beloved TV show (Alias) under her belt. And, hello -- she's on the cover of Allure! We think it's smart for Garner to have her own life outside of Affleck, both professionally and personally -- just as every woman should have other interests outside of her relationships. But if Jen is more focused on her kids than her career right now, and she's happy with that choice, then more power to her. Being "wife of" isn't a bad thing -- and it certainly doesn't define her.

Donna Kaufman is a freelance writer and iVillage contributor. Find her on Twitter and Google+

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