Will Smith opened up even more about his marriage to Jada Pinkett Smith following their Red Table Talk last summer, revealing that they both came to the realization that “marriage for us can’t be a prison.”
In his new memoir Will, the actor speaks candidly about the breakdown of their relationship, explaining that Jada didn’t want a traditional wedding ceremony but ultimately gave in to his pressure. “This would be the first of many compromises Jada would make over the years that painfully negated her own values,” he writes. He also later persuaded her to move into a 256-acre compound that she didn’t want. Smith adds, “Nothing good comes from spending your hard-earned money on a ‘family home’ that your wife doesn’t want. You are putting a down payment on discord and for years you will be paying off a mortgage of misery. Or, worse.”
That tension came to a boiling point at Jada’s 40th birthday in 2011. Smith had spent three years planning a private family-and-friends dinner in Santa Fe, where he screened a documentary he’d commissioned about his wife’s life that traced her family’s lineage back to slavery. However, when they got back to the hotel suite that night, Jada told him, “That was the most disgusting display of ego I have ever seen in my life.” They then began fighting so loudly that their daughter Willow, who was ten at the time, emerged crying and begging them to stop. “Our marriage wasn’t working,” Smith writes. “We could no longer pretend. We were both miserable and clearly something had to change.”
When speaking with GQ about the book for a new cover story, Smith elaborated, “Jada never believed in conventional marriage…Jada had family members that had an unconventional relationship. So she grew up in a way that was very different than how I grew up. There were significant endless discussions about, what is relational perfection? What is the perfect way to interact as a couple? And for the large part of our relationship, monogamy was what we chose, not thinking of monogamy as the only relational perfection. We have given each other trust and freedom, with the belief that everybody has to find their own way. And marriage for us can’t be a prison. And I don’t suggest our road for anybody. I don’t suggest this road for anybody. But the experiences that the freedoms that we’ve given one another and the unconditional support, to me, is the highest definition of love.”
It’s also why they decided to speak publicly about what had gone on in their marriage years ago on Jada’s Facebook Watch show, deciding “that authenticity was the release from the shackles of fame and public scrutiny.” But Smith understands that changing the narrative about yourself as a celebrity is also an almost impossible feat. “The public has a narrative that is impenetrable,” Smith said. “Once the public decides something, it’s difficult to impossible to dislodge the pictures and ideas and perceptions.”
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