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Everything we know about Jada and Will Smith's unconventional 21-year marriage.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have been married for 21 years; a lifetime by Hollywood standards.

It means they’ve had two decades to truly understand how to build a strong marriage – and the key to their success, Jada, 47, revealed this week in an interview with The Guardian, is that they’ve defined what marriage means to them, and done it on their own terms.

“I knew that I was not built for conventional marriage,” the Girls Trip star shares in the interview.

“Even the word ‘wife’: it’s a golden cage, swallow the key. Even before I was married, I was like, ‘That’ll kill me.’ And it damn near did!”

Jada added that her experience with the hard work of marriage is one of the reasons why she created her Facebook show, Red Table Talk.

“Why wouldn’t you share what you’ve been through, when you see that other people are out there, trying to figure this crap out?

“We decided to make [our experience] public because it’s part of the healing. I feel like if we don’t have real understanding about it, I don’t know if interpersonal relationships are possible.”

Will and Jada Smith
"I knew there was something in our energy that would be magic." Image: Getty

The couple, who are both actors and producers, may have one of Hollywood’s longest marriages, but it wasn’t always a fairytale for them.

Jada admits in the interview that for many years, she was frustrated by her role of supportive wife, raising their children Jaden, 21, and Willow, 18, while Will built an iconic career, which started with his titular role in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

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She adds that setting aside her own career ambitions when the children were young wasn’t good for her identity.

“I forgot who Jada was,” she explains.

Apart from that issue between the couple, rumours have frequently circulated that Will has had affairs.

Whilst the couple claims there have never been infidelities between them, Jada said on Red Table Talk in June this year, “I’m asked a lot about, ‘Is there infidelity in your relationship with Will?’”

“And it’s like, ‘No, but there’ve been other betrayals of the heart that have been far bigger than I could even think in regards to an infidelity situation.

“When you talk about contempt, or resentment or neglect ― that can just tear your world apart.”

Despite their challenges, two decades later, the pair still publicly speak about how they are stronger than ever.

 

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Throwback Thanksgiving Thursday #Thankful

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Will said on TIDAL's Rap Radar podcast in July 2018:

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"We don't even say we're married anymore.

"We refer to ourselves as 'life partners,' where you get into that space where you realise you are literally with somebody for the rest of your life.

“There's no deal breakers. There's nothing she could do – ever – nothing that would break our relationship. She has my support 'til death, and it feels so good to get to that space."

Jada also explained their unique connection during a June 2018 interview on Sway in the Morning.

"Here's the thing about Will and I,” she said, “We are family, that's never going down.”

She further explained, “It doesn't matter, all that relationship and what people think, ideas of a husband and a partner and all that, man, whatever, at the end of the day, that's a man that can rely on me for the rest of his life, period."

Here’s how Will and Jada’s life journey together began.

In 1994, Jada met Will on the set of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, when she auditioned for the role of his girlfriend. However, their height difference meant Jada didn’t get the role.

A year later, they officially started dating, when Jada was starring on A Different World. During a 2018 Red Table Talk appearance, Will revealed he was attracted to her from simply watching the show.

"I knew there was something in our energy that would be magic," he said.

But at the time, Will was married to his first wife, Sheree Fletcher, with whom he shares son, Trey, now 26. One night when they were at dinner, Will had a significant moment.

"I had a realization I wasn’t with the person I was supposed to be with," he said.

"I was sitting in a [bathroom] stall and I was crying and laughing uncontrollably, and I knew [Jada] was the woman I was supposed to be with, but I was never getting divorced...

“I went back out, sat down with Sheree and started going back on with my life."

But their marriage finally ended in 1995, and soon after, Will and Jada became a couple. They married in December 1997 – when Jada was three months pregnant with their first child.

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Birthday boy ❤️

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"One day we got engaged, and the next day we found out we were pregnant," Jada told People at the time.

But as Jada recalled on an episode of Red Table Talk, she knew even on her wedding day that the concept of traditional marriage didn’t feel right.

"I was so upset that I had to have a wedding," she recalled.

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"I was so pissed. I went crying down the freakin' aisle getting married."

And yet, she did it because it made Will happy.

Jaden was born on July 8, 1998 – after being conceived on a holiday in Mexico. Willow was born on Halloween in 2000.

Jada Pinkett Smith talks about the moment her son Jaden said that he was going to move out at 15. Post continues after video. 

Video by Red Table Talk

Marriage lessons learned.

In 2013, more than a decade into their marriage involving years of careers and children, Jada gave an interview to HuffPost Live – and her comments caused much speculation about the couple’s relationship.

"I’ve always told Will, 'You can do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be okay,'" Jada said.

"Because at the end of the day, Will is his own man. I’m here as his partner, but he is his own man. He has to decide who he wants to be and that's not for me to do for him. Or vice versa."

The response from the media and the public was to wonder if the pair had an open marriage, to which Jada gave a response on her Facebook account.

"The statement I made in regard to, 'Will can do whatever he wants,' has illuminated the need to discuss the relationship between trust and love and how they co-exist," she wrote.

It’s pragmatic and sage acknowledgements like that which have kept the couple together for so long – and stronger than ever after all this time.

What do you believe is the secret to a successful marriage?


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