5 Signs Will Smith And Jada Pinkett Smith's Marriage Was Never As It Seemed

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have a long relationship history. While they first met in 1994 when Jada auditioned for a role on Will's show "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," they didn't become a couple until 1995, shortly after Will's marriage to Sheree Zampino ended. Before Zampino initiated their breakup, Will had caught been between his aversion to divorce and his burgeoning interest in Jada.

Two years later, Will and Jada got married in December 1997, about a month after their engagement. In July 1998, they welcomed their son, Jaden Smith. Two years later, in October 2000, Willow Smith, their daughter, was born. 

Over the years, the couple has talked about their relationship amid rumors of divorce. In a 2015 interview with ET, Will reflected on their bond, saying "our marriage was the most difficult, grueling, excruciating thing that we have ever taken on in our lives. And you know we're just not quitters." Will also made an appearance on Jada's show, "Red Table Talk," to talk about their lives as a couple. However, even as they refuted divorce rumors, Will and Jada dropped hints for years that their marriage wasn't quite the tight connection it appeared, voicing their unconventional philosophies about marriage, extramarital relationships, and shifting from marriage to partnership to separate lives. 

Jada didn't want to get married

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith's marriage got off to a rocky start from day one. During a 2018 episode of "Red Table Talk," Jada revealed that she was crying during her wedding, and her tears were from anger rather than happiness. She was three months pregnant with their son, Jaden Smith, and while Will and her mother were ecstatic about the wedding, Jada felt coerced into marriage. 

However, Jada's feelings about the day took a long time to become public knowledge, as she only revealed them on her 2018 episode of "Red Table Talk." In contrast, a contemporary account of the ceremony from January 1998 paints a much rosier picture, complete with descriptions of the happy couple reading declarations of their love at the altar and bringing their guests to tears. 

Will and Jada stayed together, but ditched monogamy sometime after 2011

Jada Pinkett Smith's 40th birthday celebration caused serious discord between her and Will Smith. Will had spent three years planning the party, and while the event even included a documentary about Jada's life and genealogy, she felt the event was all about Will instead of her. After a huge fight, the couple realized their marriage was at a transitional point.  Around this time, Jada was also dealing with mental health challenges and suicidal thoughts. 

In his memoir, "Will," the actor pondered how he and Jada tried to give each other space as a way of improving their relationship. He noted that both he and his wife had very different points of view regarding what a marriage should look like. While he admitted that he wouldn't recommend their approach, Will wrote, "the freedoms that we've given one another and the unconditional support, to me, is the highest definition of love," per GQ.

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They used new terms to define their changing relationship

As their marriage was evolving, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith's ideas about monogamy became a public conversation. Jada shared her take on the idea of an open marriage in a 2013 Facebook post. After posing numerous questions on the nature of love, she spotlighted their confidence in one another. "This does NOT mean we have an open relationship," she clarified. "This means we have a GROWN one."

In addition, by 2018, Will revealed a transition in his relationship with Jada, telling TIDAL's "Rap Radar" podcast, "We refer to ourselves as life partners." Around that same time, Jada also reinforced the idea that divorce wasn't an option and reiterated her commitment to Will as a member of her family. Over multiple episodes of "Red Table Talk," she also went on to explain the fallacy of trying to be an ideal spouse as well as explored the damage their marriage sustained from times when they resented each other. To help repair their connection, Jada noted that she and her husband were working on building friendship into their relationship. 

Jada got into an entanglement with August Alsina

During a July 2020 episode of "Red Table Talk," Jada Pinkett Smith discussed her relationship with August Alsina, describing their time together as an "entanglement." She and Alsina pursued a relationship at a particularly low point in her marriage to Will Smith. However, once things improved between Jada and Will, Alsina broke things off with her. Even so, fans of the singer still believe their past relationship has impacted his music, and that some of Alsina's songs are about Jada.

As for Will, he's been bolstering his relationship with his ex-wife, Sheree Zampino. Since she's the mother of Will's first son, Trey Smith, Zampino has been part of their lives since the beginning of Jada and Will's relationship. However, in more recent years, Jada has mentioned that Will and Zampino like going on excursions together, although their connection is platonic. 

Will and Jada went their separate ways in 2016, but didn't reveal the news until 2023

In October 2023, Jada Pinkett Smith officially revealed that she and Will Smith, while not technically divorced, ended their life as a couple in 2016. Jada hasn't taken the steps to legally dissolve their union because of a pledge she made to Will.  For her husband, divorce is an anathema. In 2006, Will claimed that he viewed marriage as a lifetime commitment that could only be severed by death. 

The actor publicly demonstrated during the 2022 Oscars that he still considers Jada to be his wife. In her memoir "Worthy," Jada recounted her reaction to Will's behavior when he slapped Chris Rock during the ceremony. She was shocked at Will's anger and his reference to her as his spouse, writing, "We had been living separate lives and were there as family, not as husband and wife," (via People).