The shocking step Jennifer Lopez is taking to save her marriage to Ben Affleck.

The 54-year-old actress and singer was 'heartsick and devastated' to pull out, she said, as speculation about the reason exploded online.

When it came, the cancellation last week of Jennifer Lopez's imminent 34-date concert tour was both abrupt and emotional.

The 54-year-old actress and singer was 'heartsick and devastated' to pull out, she said, as speculation about the reason exploded online.

Quickly, one narrative began to dominate: that the tour was a failure and that J-Lo — once Jenny from the Block, now attempting a massive pop comeback — had embarrassingly discovered that her music was not all that popular after all.

But that theory ignores one little-known fact. A few weeks from the tour beginning, ticket sales were at a relatively healthy 78 per cent, I'm told. Demand had started slowly but then picked up. 'If [she] had done this early on, then it would have been about ticket sales because they did start slow, but it was not,' says a source.

With that percentage of tickets sold on average, the tour could easily have gone ahead. So why isn't it?

After speaking to numerous sources, it's clear the problem lies not in a lack of enthusiasm for J-Lo's work, but in whatever is going on in her two-year marriage to actor Ben Affleck. She has cancelled the tour in a bid — probably ultimately doomed — to save their union.

Sources confirm that he moved out of their (£48million) marital home in the middle of last month. (He's now in a rented house in the suburban LA neighbourhood of Brentwood.)

Hard on the heels of that domestic crisis, J-Lo opted to can the tour, explaining that she is taking time off 'to be with her children, family and close friends'.

Perhaps she didn't want to cause a confrontation by addressing the marital woes head-on in the statement, but the implication is clear enough.

She added: 'I am completely heartsick and devastated about letting you down. Please know that I wouldn't do this if I didn't feel that it was absolutely necessary.'

People who know J-Lo and Affleck, who first dated back in 2002, say the problem with the marriage is, at heart, Affleck himself. One associate described the 51-year-old as a complicated person who is 'impossible' and 'very difficult to live with'.

Although there is no suggestion of any current womanising, he has had a reputation as a lothario. There was an alleged dalliance with his children's nanny, which he denied, and in 2017 he faced accusations of groping a woman on set back in 2003.

He later apologised, saying: 'I acted inappropriately.'

He's also a recovering alcoholic. First wife Jennifer Garner famously carted him off to rehab in 2018 after showing up at his home with a bible and a lawyer.

One-time girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow memorably said his ideal woman would be a stripper serving him beer, wearing a bikini.

So how was it going to work with the formidably disciplined and still hugely ambitious Lopez? It wasn't, it seems.

The couple married in July 2022, but while J-Lo continues to work out daily and build on her global presence in the entertainment industry, he shows no inclination to be with her while she does it. 

Woundingly for Lopez — the woman he was pursuing with red hot ardour only two years ago — Affleck's team now appears to be briefing that he wants out of the marriage. Insiders say he doesn't agree with her professional choices, perhaps especially with her decision to turn their relationship into reality TV in the self-funded documentary The Greatest Love Story Never Told, which was released on Amazon Prime earlier this year.

Well-sourced stories have said that he regards their marriage as a 'fever dream' which he has now woken up from. They also said he felt she was taking on too many projects and that too many of them were mediocre.

In response, supporters of Lopez, whose current sci-fi film Atlas is at number one globally on Netflix, say this is simple misogyny aimed at a woman who has strict control of her own image and career and has become one of the most influential entertainers of her generation in the process.

As the marriage disintegrates, both she and Affleck are icily declining to comment.

In public, they are seen supporting their children — five between them from previous marriages — at sports and school events.

Arriving and leaving each venue largely separately, they offer each other polite embraces and chilly air kisses. Both continue to wear their wedding rings in a seemingly pointed, but surely empty, gesture of official solidarity.

As ever, Jennifer is being supported by her close friend, manager Benny Medina. He was driving her around town in a white convertible BMW this week. 'When you marry Jennifer, you also marry Benny Medina,' says one friend.

Benny visited her on the set of her forthcoming film Kiss of The Spider Woman in New York last month. I'm told that the other Ben did not make the journey to support his spouse.

This is curious, as the arty project, a remake of the 1985 film, is one which Affleck encouraged her to take on and he is a producer of the movie.

It seems, however, that by late April they were happier apart.

It was also Benny and not Ben who supported her as she prepared to walk the red carpet at the Met Gala Ball in early May, with J-Lo hosting a number of events beforehand. It was a significant evening for her — along with actress Zendaya she had been chosen by Anna Wintour to be one of the event's co-chairs.

On the night she looked astonishing in a custom Schiaparelli sheath which amounted to not much more than jewels and see-through net.

But her mood? 'Sombre,' says a friend, who adds that Jennifer has been working as hard as she can to try to keep Bennifer 2.0 on the road and that the strain is visible. 'She has been taking the blame for the end of the tour and the marriage, and the mockery of the world. It is all the opposite of the truth,' says one who feels she is being 'dragged', meaning criticised, unfairly.

Another insists: 'Her Achilles heel has always been men. She is the most disciplined, the most hard-working, wonderful person and she really gets her own way in everything at all times — except for where it comes to romance.'

The friend adds: 'She wants this marriage to work so much that she is willing to make any sacrifice including giving up being J-Lo.

'She doesn't want to be divorced. She doesn't want to end up like Madonna — on her own at 60. She can't bear the idea of failure.'

He adds: 'I think you can already see her toning down the way she looks and obviously quitting this tour as well, to try to hang on to the marriage. She lets him smoke, which is huge — she hates smoking and to be around that as a singer is a straight no, but he never gave up when they were dating and married.

'She won't give up this relationship. She's going out there looking as normal as she can. It's sad to see her dimming her shine to try to keep him.'

The couple met when they co-starred in the romantic comedy Gigli in 2001. The next year they were seen kissing and she filed for a divorce from dancer Cris Judd, her second husband, after just ten months of marriage.

Bennifer, as they were known, got engaged in November 2002, but called it off in 2003 and split for good the following year. Affleck apparently hated the attention which came with the romance.

There were reports of him partying with dancers in 2003 and in January 2004 he and Matt Damon were seen with female fans they met in a Berlin nightclub.

Affleck went on to marry actress Jennifer Garner, with whom he'd already starred in several movies, in the summer of 2005, having started a romance the year before. J-Lo quickly married as well — to singer Marc Anthony. Both had children with their new partners — twins Max and Emme for her, Violet, Fin and Samuel for him.

Affleck, whose father was an alcoholic, claimed to have given up drinking in 1998, but three years later checked himself into rehab for alcohol abuse

He and Garner were divorced in 2015 after she tired of his gambling and drinking. She later said: 'I always say, 'When his sun shines on you, you feel it.' But when the sun is shining elsewhere, it's cold. He can cast quite a shadow.'

In 2021, Jennifer broke up with baseball star Alex Rodriquez after a tricky two-year engagement — he was linked to another woman — and Affleck, also single, began the process of wooing her all over again. They married in Las Vegas then had a second spectacular wedding at his estate in Georgia.

Jennifer said that this time would be different from their first affair. 'We're older now, we're smarter, we have more experience, we're at different places in our lives, we have kids now and we have to be very conscious of those things,' she said.

'It's a beautiful outcome that this has happened in this way at this time in our lives where we can really appreciate and celebrate each other and respect each other.'

But it hasn't worked out that way. For months, Affleck has been looking so miserable it's attracted global mockery. His glum demeanour at the Grammy's in February last year — which he later said he considered to be his 'wife's work event' — went viral.

In January this year, Jennifer tried to put that narrative to bed, telling reporters at the Golden Globes: 'You don't need to worry about Ben. Let me just tell you, he is good. He is happy.'

But a source told celebrity news magazine In Touch: 'They'll never stop loving each other, but she can't control him and he can't change her. There's no way it could have lasted.

'Jen's need to make their relationship so public and perfect often leaves Ben feeling overwhelmed and henpecked. He just needs to be by himself sometimes, out of her shadow.'

Given the current speculation, the three-pronged tribute to their love story produced by J-Lo and released in February — comprising an album, film and documentary — looks embarrassing.

The album, entitled This Is Me... Now, features various tracks about Affleck.

She also self-financed a £16million musical film with the same name, about her journey towards true love, which featured performances by her and Affleck.

And he paid for the documentary The Greatest Love Story Never Told, ostensibly a film about the making of the show but, in fact, a revealing insight into their marriage. In it, he said: 'Getting back together, I said, 'Listen, one of the things I don't want is a relationship on social media.'

'Then I sort of realised it's not a fair thing to ask. It's sort of like you're going to marry a boat captain and you go, 'Well, I don't want the water'. We're trying to learn to compromise.'

Jennifer added: 'I don't think he is very comfortable with me doing this, but he doesn't want to stop me.'

A friend said: 'Ben Affleck is not an easy person. He has a lot of demons and in my view his ego will never be able to deal with being married to someone with her level of stardom. I think he will end up with some nice young model who nobody has heard of.

'It is sad as she has put all her eggs in this basket — the marriage. The film was a case in point. It's a bit heartbreaking to see.

'She thinks everything of him. She even thinks he should go into politics and could be the President. Seriously, that's how crazy she is about him. What a First Lady she would make!

'But actually, we all think that it's over and that will be official before the end of the summer.'


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