Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith recounted dark times in their marriage on the second installment of Red Table Talk, a Facebook Watch series featuring their family, on Monday.
“I think the turning point in our relationship for me happened when I turned 40,” Jada said. “That’s when I had a mid-life crisis.”
Will agreed with his wife, saying, “Yeah, your 40th birthday was my low point.”
The movie star explained how he spent three years creating a documentary for Jada, which included unheard tapes of her grandmother days before she passed. “It was going to be a splash! Mary J. Blige performed, I debuted the film, all of that,” Will exclaimed. “It was going to be the thing that lifted her out of this mid-life crisis.”
But that crisis was emotionally overwhelming for Jada, and Will was upset that she didn’t have his expected reaction.
“Jada had to sit there and listen—I understand thoroughly now, at the time I didn’t—but she’s listening to these never-before-heard tapes of one of the dearest people she’s ever known in her life in front of all these people. … She told me that the party was the most ridiculous display of my ego. I was crushed,” Will recalled.
The Bright star said he didn’t understand why his wife was bothered at the time. The confusion and his ego led to the first and only time he “snapped” in front of their daughter, Willow. The couple previously spoke about the agreement to never yell in their relationship.
The breakdown became a defining point in their marriage because it showed Will that he was living up to a public image he created, and it allowed Jada to learn to have the “courage to just say no,” to the things that made her uncomfortable.
“I had to have the courage to unravel it and just realizing that this next 40, I’ve got to do it my way. This next half has to be a directed by picture for myself,” Jada explained.
Will disclosed how Willow rejecting the “Whip My Hair” tour and identity by shaving her head helped him to realize the pressures he placed on not only his daughter but also his family.
“I saw for the first time what Jada had been saying about hiding behind my ego, my dreams and my desires and pretending like it’s love, and I realized she didn’t want none of the stuff I had built,” the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star said.
He took time off from the marriage to read books and reflect on how to build a healthy structure.
Despite media reports and the rocky times in their union, Will and Jada revealed that they “never” thought about getting a divorce.
“I had never seen a divorce lawyer. Like that was never—it never crossed my mind,” the actress insisted.
“I had been divorced before; I wasn’t getting divorced again. Divorce wasn’t an option,” Will confirmed. “There was a time where I was scared that she might.”
According to the couple, they broke up and “had to rebuild with new rules—something way completely different,” for their marriage to succeed.
“We don’t even call ourselves married anymore,” Jada shared. “It’s a life partnership in the sense that we’ve created a foundation together that we know is for this lifetime.”
The Smiths ended the episode refuting the claims that they are Scientologists and practice swinging, the social act of people in committed relationships engaging in sexual activity with others.
Watch the full episode of Red Table Talk below.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.