Traditionally, marriage is associated with a loss of identity, infinite sexuality, exclusivity and letting go of your personal desires in order to serve those of your partner; but according to the latest episode of Red Table Talk, tradition isn't what kept Will and Jada's 20+ year marriage afloat, autonomy was.
Jada Pinkett and Will Smith have held it down for more than a decade as one of Hollywood's most famed couples. After meeting in 1994 and later rekindling their relationship during Will's divorce proceedings with his ex-wife Sheree, the two have remained tight-lipped about their relationship until now.
When Jada released her wildly popular Facebook series, Red Table Talk, the show addressed a number of questions about the previously private couple that we've all been dying to know the answers to, and this week's episode did not disappoint. In the past, the hosts have discussed everything from their rumored involvement with Scientology to porn addiction, but this week, the Smith family took a seat at the Red Table to tell the truth about polyamory.
Joined by world-renowned couple's therapist, Esther Perel, Jada and her mom Adrienne led today's Red Table Talk with a candid conversation about infidelity that might make you look at your marriage differently. At the beginning of the episode, Jada recited a statistic that revealed that 57% of men and 54% of women have cheated on their partners. While the general consensus is that the reason someone has been unfaithful is because they are unhappy at home or have a sh*tty moral compass, many times, infidelity is much more complicated than that. Jada explained:
"You might be married to someone that is just an innate adventurer, like there's just certain kinds of desires within that have nothing to do with you, per se. But they are personal desires that need to be explored in some manner. And even if it's not necessarily an exploration that lasts forever, it's an exploration that needs to happen to get through a passage of some kind."
The hosts also agreed that while infidelity can cause emotional turmoil, it is not always a justification for divorce. In fact, according to the hosts, there are many other disloyalties that can take place in a relationship that can be even more detrimental than cheating. While Jada said that there had been no infidelity in her relationship with Will, she explained that there had been other "betrayals of the heart" that had taken place within their marriage that were just as heartbreaking as adultery. She explained:
"I'm asked a lot about, is there infidelity with your relationship with Will and I'm like, no, but there have been other betrayals of the heart that have been far bigger than I could even think in regards to an infidelity situation. When you talk about contempt, resentment, neglect, it can just tear your world apart."
According to the 47-year-old actress, the key to rewriting your relationship narrative is breaking free from the idea that marriage should only look one way. While Jada and Will had initially built their relationship on the traditional idea of what a husband and wife should look like, they soon learned that the image they had created was not at all reflective of who they were as individuals. Jada revealed that ultimately, autonomy was the secret that allowed her and her husband to press the reset button on their relationship:
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
"That's an important concept; specifically for me in regards to redefining my marriage as a life partnership, was the necessity of autonomy for myself and for Will, 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. We went on that journey of that life partnership to find that autonomy and to find the true authentic bond outside of obligation. I don't want you to be obligated."
"What part of this is the part that you actually want and the part that you actually want to be devoted to? And what part of this do I want and want to be devoted to outside of what we've been told we're supposed to be obligated to?"
In theory, two halves can make a whole, but life has taught me that relationships work a little differently. When it comes to choosing a partner, you should both be whole, first.
The hosts also reminded the audience that being a partner in a marriage is not the same as playing a role in a relationship, because you could potentially wind up playing a part that you never even auditioned for. Jada says that focusing less on her duties and responsibilities of a "wife" and focusing more on her needs as an individual was how she and Will were able to promote their marriage to a life partnership, and since then, their relationship has never been stronger. Last year, Will echoed this sentiment when he said:
"What we realized was that we were two completely separate people on two completely separate individual journeys and that we were choosing to walk our separate journeys together."
Take a page out of Jada and Will's book, hit the Heisman on infidelity by embracing autonomy. Everyday, you have a new opportunity to grow together with your partner when you reimagine what your relationship looks like for you both as individuals.
Check out the full episode below!
Featured image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.