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Jada Pinkett Smith perfectly summed up why we need independence – even in a relationship

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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Jada Pinkett Smith

Jada Pinkett Smith has always been candid about her relationship journey, and in a new interview, the actress opened up about redefining her marriage to Will Smith in order to find a sense of autonomy.

In Hollywood years, the relationship between Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith has lasted for an eternity. The couple, who wed on 31 December 1997, have been married for more than 21 years.

But it doesn’t mean that their relationship has been smooth sailing the entire time. Far from it, in fact. In a new interview with People, Pinkett Smith opened up about reaching a breaking point shortly after her 10-year anniversary, and the steps she took to overcome the restraints of marriage and live her best life independently.

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“Will’s like, ‘We just came from Oslo, going to the [2009] Nobel Peace Prize ceremony [for Barack Obama] as a family, you’ve got a big house with a lake – isn’t this amazing?!’ And I’m like, ‘No,’” she recalled. “By the time my 40th [birthday] came, I was like, ‘I can’t do it anymore.’ I was so depleted.”

The crushing loss of independence had severe repercussions on Pinkett Smith’s mental health, and when faced with thoughts of suicide, she realised it was time to take make radical changes in her life. But after sharing life with Will for so long, it was hard to regain her sense of identity.

“I had to really take time out for me and figure out what I wanted for myself,” she said. “I had to kind of put everyone aside and ask, ‘What would I do every day if it was just Jada?’ I literally had no idea.”

While redefining her relationship was an “excruciating process”, the Girls Trip actress explained that with the benefit of time, and her unshakeable bond with Will, she was able to transform her relationship for the better.

“I am kind of a ride-or-die chick,” she said. “I just knew with the kind of love that Will and I share — which is beyond romantic love — that we could transform our union and figure out how to re-create what we had.”

By transcending the conventional definitions of marriage, Pinkett Smith explained that she and Will were able to arrive at a healthier, happier place.

“The journey between Will and me… we have come to such a beautiful place,” she said. “I feel like we have a stronger bond than we even had in the beginning.”

It’s not the first time Pinkett-Smith has opened up about reinventing her Hollywood marriage. In an episode of her hit Facebook Watch series Red Table Talk, Pinkett Smith interviewed Esther Perel, the famous sex and relationship therapist beloved of celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow, about how the couple keep their marriage alive.

For Pinkett Smith, that means carving out a sense of independence within her relationship, and ensuring that neither partner is wholly defined by their partnership. This, she told Perel, has been paramount for both her and Smith in order to ensure that they both feel satisfied sand fulfilled in their marriage

“Specifically, for me, in regards to redefining my marriage as a life partnership was the necessity of autonomy for myself and for Will,” Pinkett Smith explained. “And finding the core of us that wanted to be together outside of the constraints of the traditional ideas of marriage because they weren’t working for us.” 

“I’ve wanted to personally break out of Will needed to be something for me because I felt like that was so unfair,” Pinkett-Smith said. “And a lot of it had to do with my own father issues. I just realised one day, ‘This man is not your father!’… I was like ‘You gotta grow up. You gotta be a woman. That little girl trauma does not work here.’ That was the work I had to do.” 

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The couple worked through this period and, according to both, their relationship is stronger than ever.

As Smith himself put it, the trying times were worth it in order to emerge fortify the foundations of their partnership. “I was devastated even worse than a divorce,” Smith has said, of this period in his marriage. “We broke up within our marriage and got back together again. We had to rebuild with new rules and something way, completely different.” 

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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