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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith: What they’ve said about their marriage

By Lisa Respers France, CNN

(CNN) — Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have said their marriage is not a conventional one.

Pinkett Smith this week has revealed that she and Smith, who married in 1997, have been living “completely separate lives” since 2016.

Here’s some of what they have said about marriage over the years.

Garden of love

Will Smith celebrated what was their 20th anniversary in 2017 with a throwback picture of their wedding and a heartfelt caption that noted, “20 Years Ago Today we held hands and walked naively down that aisle. Here’s what I’ve learned since.”

“Love is Like Gardening… I have learned to focus on HELPING you to BLOSSOM into what YOU want to be (into what you were born to be),” Smith wrote. “Rather than Demanding that you become what my Fragile Ego needs you to be.”

He ended the post with “Happy Anniversary, My Queen! I am forever Devoted to Nurturing your Deepest Truth.”

‘Amazing chemistry’

That same year, Pinkett Smith appeared on “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen” and answered a viewer question about the “craziest” rumor she’s heard about her family. Pinkett Smith said it was that she and her husband were swingers.

“And I’m like, ‘Yo, I wish!” she said laughing.

When Cohen asked her how she kept things “hot” with her husband, Pinkett Smith said, “I really think that Will and I just have amazing chemistry on a lot of different levels.”

“We love to laugh together, we love to learn together and we just love each other,” she continued. “We just have a good time together. Yeah, I guess that’s the secret. Yeah, we just really like each other!”

Forever family

Pinkett Smith appeared on Sway’s Universe in 2018 and declared that she and Smith “are family,” no matter what.

“Take out all that whole marriage/ relationship crap, at the end of the day, Will and I are family. I am going to hold him down, doesn’t matter,” she said. “All that relationship and what people think ideas of a husband, partner and all that, man, whatever. At the end of the day, that is a man that can rely on me for the rest of his life, period.”

A caller later asked how Pinkett Smith dealt with “indiscretions” in her marriage.

“As much as we wish our partners could be perfect, as much as we wish that they never hurt us, as much as we wish that they came into relationships with no flaws and had everything figured out, we don’t,” Pinkett Smith said.

A bond that transcends marriage

Also that year, Smith appeared on Tidal’s Rap Radar podcast and caused headlines when he revealed that he and Pinkett Smith “don’t even say we’re married anymore.”

“We refer to ourselves as life partners, where you get into that space where you realize you are literally with somebody for the rest of your life,” Smith said. “There’s no deal breakers. There’s nothing she could do — ever. Nothing […] would break our relationship. She has my support till death and it feels so good to get to that space.”

Marriage not working

In 2021, Smith talked to GQ about his forthcoming memoir in which he wrote about the ups and downs in his relationship with his wife.

One down was in 2011, when he planned a 40th birthday party for Pinkett Smith that included a documentary he made about her life that traced her family back to slavery. The actress didn’t like it and told Smith, “That was the most disgusting display of ego I have ever seen in my life.”

“Our marriage wasn’t working,” Smith wrote in his book. “We could no longer pretend. We were both miserable and clearly something had to change.”

He confirmed to GQ that their marriage became non-monogamous, explaining that “Jada never believed in conventional marriage.”

“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?” he said. ” And for the large part of our relationship, monogamy was what we chose, not thinking of monogamy as the only relational perfection.”

Smith expanded on what that meant to them.

“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,” he added. “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.”

‘Bad marriage for life’

The Smiths appeared on her “Red Table Talk” in 2020 to discuss the romantic relationship she had with singer August Alsina.

The pair said the “entanglement” happened during “a very difficult time” in their marriage, but they had since made it to a place of “unconditional love.”

“I told you the first year we were married, that I could love you through anything,” Will Smith said at the time.

The couple bumped fists as they jokingly recited their rendition of his “Bad Boys” movie motto: “We ride together, we die together. Bad marriage for life.”

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