What does it take to maintain a long-term marriage? Will Smith has the answer!
According to the actor, most people have a warped perception that falling in love and maintaining the type of love that he and Jada have, is much easier when you have money, but it could actually make things more difficult. Last month, I attended a discussion panel between Will Smith and Sister Souljah in Philly and I learned a lot about what it takes to maintain a long-term relationship as Will detailed the obstacles in the couple's 17-year relationship, as well as the insecurities that he had to overcome in order to love his wife unconditionally. During the panel, he also made the revelation that when a person decides that they want to be married, they have to be willing to collide with the weakest parts of themselves and that overall, Jada has pushed him to become a better man.
Here are a few highlights:
"I think a lot of people think that when you have money, that everything gets really easy, Hell Naw! Jada and I have been together for 17 years. If you look at it like a sports record, we are probably like 15 and 2. When we got started, we both truly connected on wanting to be better. That’s where it all started. There were other people that we were dating and other people that we were attracted to, but there was a commitment to constantly be better that was what we connected on. Our whole world and relationship was that, "Hey, I know that I may not be all of that today but what I’m not going to do is lay around and not keep working to be better to deserve you." I would say that concept is very central to having any success in this game of love at all. The central idea of love is not even a relationship commitment, the first thing is a personal commitment to be the best version of yourself with or without that person that you’re with. You have to every single day, mind, body, and spirit, wake up with a commitment to be better. Don’t make that same mistake tomorrow that you made today."
[easy-tweet tweet="Don’t make that same mistake tomorrow that you made today."]
On the people you spend the most time with
"When you look around at the six people that you spend the most time with, that’s who you are. I think that in making those decisions in who you are going to be married to, who your friends are going to be, those are really huge, critical, life decisions. Who gets to talk to you everyday, is almost like the food that you eat. It is a very huge critical situation to choose who the people are that you are spending your life with, spending your time with and who you are choosing to give your love and everything to."
On having freedom in marriage to grow
"The idea is that you are two people together, but in that process, the marriage cannot be a prison. There has to be a freedom that allows a person to grow. A person has to be allowed to make mistakes, and a person has to be allowed to become and grow without the threat of punishment. I think that in the concept of our marriages because of our own insecurities, we lay it out in a way like, "Hey, that’s a deal breaker." I hear people talk about the concept of the deal breakers and it’s really in conflict with loving somebody."
On checking your insecurities so that you are able to love someone unconditionally
"When I think about my relationship with Jada, when it comes to love, as soon as you put yourself in a love relationship, you’ve got to check your insecurities. When you love somebody, and you feel yourself slipping, you will fight, scratch, and claw, to not be in that uncomfortable space. You have traumas that happen with your mother and father, or an old girlfriend, or an old boyfriend, that you've got to address personally if you want to truly be able to love somebody. Our traumas keep us away from being able to truly love someone unconditionally. In this world, there are difficulties with just getting out of the bed everyday. Trying to love on top of that is excruciating. It is absolutely not something to be taken lightly or easy when you say you’re going to marry somebody, you have to be willing to go through hell. You have to be willing to collide with the weakest parts of yourself. You have to look at the things about you on a higher spiritual plane. You have to look at the things about you that are cowardly, that are angry or mean, resentful. You have to be able to look at those things about yourself that are not spiritually healthy parts. Love truly is when you change yourself for a better love with someone."
[easy-tweet tweet="Our traumas keep us away from being able to truly love someone unconditionally."]
On becoming a better person because of his marriage
"Jada has made me a better person than anyone on earth could have every done. There is nobody on Earth at this point that in my life and in my career with the successes and the things that I’ve done, there is nobody on Earth that I would still try to be better for. [...] Jada is a beast. Just her passion, power, and relentless unwillingness to let me lay down at night when I’ve only done 92 percent of what I was supposed to do that day, holds me to a higher standard."
Loved the honesty! What do you think it takes to make a marriage last?
Editor's Note: This blog was originally posted in March, 2013.