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"When you have children with somebody you're connected to them forever," Ben Affleck tells PEOPLE

By Liz McNeil
February 26, 2020 08:00 AM
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Ever since their marriage ended, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner have always made it a point to be united for their three kids, Violet, 14, Seraphina, 11, and Sam, 8.

“When you have children with somebody you’re connected to them forever,” says Affleck, who was married to the actress for ten years. “And I’m very lucky she is the mother of my children.”

The actor, 47, starring in a new sports drama, The Way Back, opened up about alcoholism, his sobriety and how grateful he is for Garner’s support in his recovery, in this week’s PEOPLE.

“I’m very grateful and respectful of her,” he says of Garner, also 47. “Our marriage didn’t work, and that’s difficult. Both of us really believe that it’s important for kids to see their parents respect one another and get along, whether they’re together or not.”

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck out and about, Los Angeles, USA - 27 Feb 2019
Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck
| Credit: Shutterstock

In a recent New York Times interview, Affleck called their divorce in 2018, after a three year separation, “the biggest regret of my life.”

For more on Affleck, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday.

As he tells PEOPLE, “My parents got divorced when I was young and I know how painful that is, and I knew that they [my kids] would have to go through that publicly. But kids are resilient. They appreciate the truth.”

ben affleck
Ben Affleck
| Credit: Magdalena Wosinska/The New York Times/Redux

He and Garner are committed to coparenting their children and are often seen together at school events. “It’s important for my kids to know that I respect and care about Jen and she treats me the same way,” he says. “I have a lot of respect and gratitude toward her. And I wish her the very best.”

The actor and director publicly admitted his alcoholism in 2018 and describes his road to recovery as “one step forward, two steps back.”

the way back
The Way Back
| Credit: Richard Foreman

He hopes The Way Back, in which he plays an alcoholic basketball coach hired by his alma mater to bring a team of underdogs to a championship, inspires people facing all kinds of challenges.

“It’s an uplifting movie,” he says. “Yes, there is addiction and alcoholism and divorce and real problems that real people go through but it’s also about the way in which we can overcome adversity and we can change and grow.”

The Way Back opens March 6.