He said it in 2006.
“Divorce can’t be an option. With Jada, I stood up in front of God and said, ‘Til death do us part.’ So there are two possible outcomes. One, we are going to be together till death, or two, I am dead.”
And again in 2015. “In the interest of redundant, repetitious, over & over-again-ness…Jada and I are…NOT GETTING A DIVORCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have denied the presumed end of their marriage so many times, that even their kids have gotten into the act. That same year, a then-14-year-old Willow Smith tweeted, “The media thinks my parents are getting divorced like every second hahaha!”
Not exactly a laughing matter, but one could see how, at this point, the family finds it comical. Last December the sitcom star turned dependable leading man and the outspoken actress he’s dubbed “my Queen” marked 20 years of marriage, an almost unheard of milestone within the confines of Hollywood. It’s an occasion even mere mortals canonize, celebrating each other with an anniversary bash or at least the traditional piece of china. But the parents to Jaden Smith, 19, and Willow, now 17, simply gave each other a high-five, the Suicide Squad actor, 49, told E! News and kept it moving.
It’s not that they have a blasé attitude toward their accomplishment, Will, also dad to son Trey Smith, 25, from his first marriage to Sheree Fletcher, recently revealed in an interview on TIDAL’s Rap Radar podcast, it’s just at this point what they have has surpassed traditional unions. “We don’t even say we’re married anymore,” he explained. “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. She has my support till death, and it feels so good to get to that space.”
Obviously Jada, 46, is in complete lockstep. “Here’s the thing about Will and I, it’s like, we are family, that’s never going down! It’s just not! Ever!” she dished to Sway Calloway during a June 13 interview on Sway in the Morning on SiriusXM’s Shade 45. “It doesn’t matter, all that relationship and what people think, ideas of a husband and a partner and all that, man, whatever, at the end of the day, that’s a man that can rely on me for the rest of his life, period.”
So, they’ve cleared that up.
But when people aren’t predicting that the pair are headed for divorce court, they tend to speculate about just what it is that keeps their two decade union together. One of the more persistent rumors, Jada acknowledged during a 2017 appearance on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen: That they’re swingers. “And I’m like, ‘Yo, I wish!” she joked. “I wish!”
While she shot down that particularly report, she’s provided fuel to another by giving HuffPost Live’s Marc Lamont Hill this answer when he asked if she and the Oscar nominee enjoy an open marriage: “I’ve always told Will, ‘You can do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be okay.’ Because at the end of the day, Will is his own man. I’m here as his partner, but he is his own man. He has to decide who he wants to be and that’s not for me to do for him. Or vice versa.”
Reactions to her admission became so frenzied that she later took to Facebook to clarify she hadn’t given him an open-ended hall pass.
“The statement I made in regard to, ‘Will can do whatever he wants,’ has illuminated the need to discuss the relationship between trust and love and how they co-exist. Do we believe loving someone means owning them? Do we believe that ownership is the reason someone should behave’? Do we believe that all the expectations, conditions, and underlying threats of ‘you better act right or else’ keep one honest and true? Do we believe that we can have meaningful relationships with people who have not defined nor live by the integrity of his or her higher self?” she wrote in a lengthy post, adding, “Should we be married to individuals who can not be responsible for themselves and their families within their freedom? Should we be in relationships with individuals who we can not entrust to their own values, integrity, and LOVE…for us??? Here is how I will change my statement…Will and I BOTH can do WHATEVER we want, because we TRUST each other to do so. This does NOT mean we have an open relationship…this means we have a GROWN one.”
She would later untangle her thoughts again on Howard Stern‘s radio show, explaining she’s not her husband’s babysitter, and once more during her chat with Calloway.
When asked how they deal with indiscretions, she replied, “You come across lots of different kinds of indiscretions in all kinds of relationships. And let me tell you something, the one thing that I’ve learned, as much as we wish our partners could be perfect, as much as we wish that they never hurt us, as much as we wish that they came into relationships with no flaws and had everything figured out, we don’t. You know? And inevitably all kinds of things, whether it’s kind of understanding trust or understanding, you know, figuring out, are you a person that can hold down monogamy? Are you a polyamorous individual?”
Her words, while they fall well short of saying cheating is A-OK, are cryptic enough that their policy is still a little fuzzy. But the main implication is clear: They have the utmost of faith in each other and it simply cannot be shaken.
The type of trust means they don’t fall trap to the jealousy that can mar other unions in their industry, on-location shoots and hard-bodied costars often not providing the best recipe for monogamy.
When Jada stepped into play a strip-club owner in the Magic Mike remake alongside a shirtless Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer and Adam Rodriguez Will was unfazed. Asked if he was jealous at all, she told E! News, “You know, he really wasn’t. We’ve been together for 20 years, you know. And he knows he’s got me on lock, so he’s good.”
Same goes for his series of onscreen love interests, a list that includes the likes of Thandie Newton and Eva Mendes. When Will informed her he’d be starring opposite Margot Robbie in his 2015 thriller Focus “and she saw that Margot was young and hot and in shape, she said, ‘Boy don’t embarrass me. Get in shape now,'” Smith recalled to E! News, laughing. “She was like, ‘Do not let that girl smash you onscreen.'”
It’s the kind of confidence that comes with knowing even the most attractive of women isn’t competition.
Credit the declaration Will made to Rolling Stone shortly after their 1997 New Year’s Eve vows. At the time the couple, who discovered they were expecting Jaden shortly after his proposal, thus fast-tracking their 300-guest wedding in her native Baltimore, had recently settled into a home in the San Fernando Valley. And two years into their union (they reconnected at a group dinner nearly six years after she auditioned to play his girlfriend on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), they had the kind of love that makes you speak in absolutes.
“I honestly believe that there is no other woman for me but Jada. Of all the women I’ve met—and there’ve been a few—no one can handle me the way Jada does,” he explained to the magazine. “And once you feel someone locked in on you like that, somebody being down for you, there’s no competition. And knowing that I’m not going anywhere gives Jada the strength to be what I need. As fine as other women can be, as tempting sexually, I’m not going anywhere. This is it. I can’t imagine what anybody else could offer.”
And it’s unlikely that what’s on offer at home will ever grow stale. While Jada shot down the swingers rumors, the pair have been quite open about their other sexual proclivities.
Jada, for instance, shared it was Will who taught her the grapefruit technique on display in her comedy smash Girls Trip. (For the uninitiated, it’s more or less the 2017 version of the apple pie.)
And while he has talked about his preference for costumes, she has bragged about their penchant for having sex in unusual places, not limited to the side of the road or a girlfriend’s bathroom at a party.
One standout: their limo en route to the 2010 Academy Awards. “Will started looking at me in this way that drives me wild,” she shared with Shape. “We started kissing passionately, and the next thing I knew, well, let’s just say we missed the red carpet and I ended up with almost no makeup on.”
Their habit for dangerous sex—”It’s crazy the risks that we take, but that’s what keeps it so much fun,” she said—even led to one awkward encounter with daughter Willow.
“I was going downstairs to get some juice, and I saw for a little moment and I ran away,” Willow recalled during a particularly racy episode of Jada’s Facebook series “Red Table Talk.” Backing away, she continued, “I was like ‘Oh my God! This is so crazy. What did I just see?'”
With their TMI quotes often at the forefront, it could be easy to assume their marriage tips amount to little more than, have spicy sex. But the couple have put in work outside of the bedroom, too. Will has said he’s read the classic guide book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus four times and they’ve logged “a lot of marriage counseling.”
Believing too many people “look at relationships as being very cookie-cut,” Jada says theirs has gone through a series of evolutions. “As you get older, everything is changing. Everything,” she noted to Hoda Kotb on her SiriusXM show, The Hoda Show. “So there’s a lot of check-ins, a lot of redefining.”
And for those interested in a master class, Jada teased on Sway in the Morning that Will would be coming on her Facebook series “to really talk about what our journey has been and what our experience has been.”
Though their lessons come with a key caveat. “I would say to individuals, ‘Do not try this at home,'” she admitted. “This is not for everyone.”
Though, at this point, it’s hard to deny that it’s working for them.