Will Smith Details Why His Marriage With Jada Pinkett Smith Almost Ended

The actor's memoir was published on Tuesday.

Will Smith's marriage to Jada Pinkett Smith has always fascinated their fans, especially as the duo has become more open about the details of their relationship in recent years. In his self-titled memoir, the 53-year-old actor gets refreshingly candid about their marriage, from the sex-filled beginnings to the tumultuous roadblocks that nearly ended their union. 

In the deeply personal book, Will shares how he and Jada met in their 20s and became a couple after the Men in Black actor split from his first wife, Sheree Zampino. The two initially met on the set of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, when Jada was exiting a producer's office following an unsuccessful audition. But it wasn't until much later that the two got a chance to connect, and when they did, they became quickly inseparable.

"My divorce from Sheree wasn’t yet final, so Jada and I decided it would be prudent if we kept our relationship under wraps. (We were both pretty famous, and we felt it just wouldn’t have been a great look.)," he reveals in the book. "The blessed yet unintended consequence was that we spent every single moment together, just us. The first three or four months were as wild a romantic whirlwind as our bodies could have possibly handled."

"We fit together so naturally, and our energies combined exponentially in a way that felt like old friends more than new lovers," Will adds. "We had an unspoken language, and everything we focused on flourished."

As the two became serious, starting their family and getting married, their different views led to miscommunications and fights that threatened their marriage. One of the first was their differing ideas on taking the next step: Will wanted a traditional wedding before Jada gave birth to their son Jaden, but the expectant mother wasn't interested in the idea.

"Jada didn’t believe in a conventional marriage, and despised the traditional ceremony. She also had questions about the viability of monogamy as a framework for successful long-term relationships," Will writes. "Jada wanted to look into my eyes, devote her undying love before God, and then get on with the difficult business of building a life together.”

The After Earth actor explains that Jada's mom, Gammy, also wanted her daughter to have a traditional ceremony and did her best to convince her daughter to do so. 

"Jada held her ground as long as she could, but pretty soon, the 'wedding pressure' became too much. She was in her second trimester, she was tired and uncomfortable, and she didn’t want to argue," Will reveals. "She also couldn’t bear the thought of breaking her mother's heart, and deep down inside — even though I wasn’t saying it — she knew I wanted a wedding too. So she agreed to have a traditional ceremony in Baltimore on New Year's Eve... To this day, Jada refers to our ceremony as 'Gammy's Wedding.'"

But this was what Will refers to as "the first of compromises" Jada would make after boarding the "Will Train" that "painfully negated her own values."

From Will's jealously of the relationship between Jada and the late rapper Tupac Shakur to their wildly differing priorities in life, Will's purchase of a grandiose estate that Jada vehemently protested against and an extravagant birthday celebration that went awry, the couple's inability to communicate with each other soured an otherwise loving marriage. 

After an explosive argument triggered by the birthday party, Will and Jada had their infamous conversation about "retiring" from making each other happy

"Our marriage wasn’t working. We could no longer pretend. We were both miserable, and clearly, something had to change...I retire,’ I said. ‘I retire from trying to make you happy. You are free. You need to go make yourself happy and prove to me that it’s even possible. But I quit—you go do you, and I’m-a go do me,'" Will writes.

"We agreed that Jada's happiness had to be her responsibility and my happiness had to be my responsibility. We were going to seek our distinct, innermost personal joys, and then we were going to return and present ourselves to the relationship and to each other already happy — not coming to each other begging with empty cups, demanding the other person fulfill our needs. We felt this vampiric relational model was unfair, unrealistic, destructive — even abusive. To place the responsibility for your happiness on anybody other than yourself is a recipe for misery."

Will writes that he and the Red Table Talk host were "suffering the brutal death of our romantic fantasies, the burning away of the idealistic illusion of the perfect marriage and the perfect family. Neither of us wanted a divorce; we knew we loved each other, and some aspects of our union were magical. But the structure of the life that we had established was strangling both of us."

The harsh awakening was a result of marrying too early in their relationship and too young; now in their forties, their "unhealed inner children were choking the sh*t out of each other." Will writes that he and Jada knew they had work to do but "this phase would not be together." 

Ultimately, "the painful awakening was to the reality that we were two separate people on two independent, individual journeys. We had simply chosen to walk this portion together. We cried like crazy, hugged, and agreed to let each other go," he writes.

Eventually, the two were able to come back together, having discovered "the power of loving in freedom." Will explains that their relationship allows them to be "simultaneously one hundred percent bound together and one hundred percent free."

Although Will doesn't define his relationship with Jada as an "open marriage," they've been subject to speculation and rumors for years. 

Jada admitted to having an "entanglement" with R&B singer August Alsina in a Red Table Talk episode with Will that aired last July. She said she first met August more than four years ago and that the singer had initially come to her when he was "sick" and in need of some help, and that the Smith family had supported him. Jada said she ended up getting involved with August when she and Will were separated.

In September, Will made headlines when he told GQ that Jada wasn't the only one who had engaged in other sexual relationships outside of their marriage. He also shared that he had fantasies about other celebrity women, including Halle Berry and dancer Misty Copeland.

"We have given each other trust and freedom, with the belief that everybody has to find their own way," Will said of his and Jada's arrangement. "And marriage for us can't be a prison. And I don't suggest our road for anybody. I don't suggest this road for anybody. But the experiences that the freedoms that we've given one another and the unconditional support, to me, is the highest definition of love."

For more on Jada and Will's relationship, watch the video below: