"Til death do us part" is a sacred phrase that we use to commemorate what we expect to be a lifelong union. But can we be honest? What we're really saying is, "Til you f*ck up do us part."
There are ups and downs in relationships that some marriages may not be able to withstand. And with the divorce rate being what it is, it's evident that vows are sometimes more temporary and fleeting than permanent and finite. Nowadays people rarely take this well-known vow literally, except for maybe Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.
The Smiths' relationship has withstood the test of time, tabloid rumors, chaotic professional careers, and the couple says that there's no end in sight. Their love story began on the set of Will's hit 90's series, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where Jada had ironically auditioned for the part of Will's girlfriend but lost the part to Nia Long. Jada said:
"I think if I had done it, we would not be married today. Because you have to meet people at a time that you're ready. Neither one of us were ready at that time."
The couple became friends and started dating in 1995. Now, two kids and a little over two decades later, they're still going strong. Jada and Will have been candid about turmoil and frustration that ensued over the years as the superstar couple fought to create a life together, and although everything hasn't been rainbows and butterflies, they found a love worth going to war for.
Jada and Will are so adamant about the preservation of their relationship that they don't even consider themselves as just "married" anymore. Will said this in a recent interview with TIDAL:
"We don't even say we're married anymore. We refer to ourselves as life partners, where you get into that space where you realize you are literally with somebody for the rest of your life."
"There's no deal breakers. There's nothing she could do — ever. Nothing that would break our relationship," he continued. "She has my support till death and it feels so good to get to that space."
Earlier this year, Will posted a video on social media that explained that love and happiness are not synonymous and stressed the importance of finding happiness individually first. 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."
Not long ago, I read about the power of having a growth mindset, or a thought process that focuses on accomplishment rather than failure. This way of thinking involves offering support to both yourself and others without judgement. Will and Jada's dynamic reminds me of this mindset because, like all relationships, I'm sure Will and Jada's relationship has hit some bumps in the road. Regardless of their missteps, these two offer each other unconditional support.
I am in no way saying that you should suffer in silence in an abusive or negligent relationship, but Jada and Will are one of the few examples that remind us that black love is real, but it isn't always easy. The beautiful couple will be celebrating 21 years of being life partners this December.
I wonder how many relationships would last through their individual storms if we took the time to love without recording our partner's wrongs in our imaginary little black book of their sins against us. What would marriage look like if we viewed it as a life partnership rather than a prison that makes us forfeit our freedom and individuality?
Jada and Will are a testament to a fact that even though marriage isn't a construct that was built to fit the paradigms of modern day society, we can develop lasting connections by offering love without judgement.