Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith may be the most high-profile monogamish couple in the country — that we know of — aside from the man who coined the term in the first place, Dan Savage, and his husband Terry Miller.
That is to say: they are married, in a partnership of equals, that isn’t entirely monogamous. And it’s okay.
In an interview this week with Howard Stern, Jada addressed rumors that have persisted for years that the couple has an open marriage. She won’t use the exact phrase “open marriage” to describe the couple’s arrangement; she has characterized it as “grown.”
“You’ve got to trust who you’re with, and at the end of the day, I’m not here to be anybody’s watcher,” Pinkett told Stern, remixing an answer she gave to HuffPost Live’s Marc Lamont Hill in April 2013. “I’m not his watcher. He’s a grown man and here’s what I trust: I trust that the man that Will is, is a man of integrity. So, he’s got all the freedom in the world. He’s got all the freedom in the world. And as long as Will can look himself in the mirror and be okay, I’m good.”
These sentiments echo a 2013 post Pinkett-Smith made on Facebook:
“Should we be married to individuals who can not be responsible for themselves and their families within their freedom?” she wrote. “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.”
Savage, a sex and relationship advice columnist and editor of The Stranger, has long advocated that otherwise-healthy relationships not be destroyed on the basis of sex alone, especially when children are involved. The Smiths have two children, Jaden, 16, and Willow, 14; Will also has a son, Trey, 22, from a previous relationship. The couple has always been extremely effusive in their praise for each other and their talents.
“Thank God I have a husband who’s just a gangster partner,” Pinkett told Stern. “Can you imagine taking that ride together, from 25 to 44? Woooooo! We have traveled. And you’ve got to be strong.” That’s not to say their relationship hasn’t seen its ups and downs — a few years ago, the couple was dogged by rumors of an impending breakup, but it never materialized.
Savage has been advocating for mutually-agreed upon monogamishamy for years — not for everyone, but for couples for whom it works. And he has argued that there are quite a few practitioners, celebrity and everyday alike, who simply don’t publicize the inner negotiations of their relationships that are often spoken about in hushed tones of “arrangements” or “marriages of convenience” or other flowery euphemisms.
Jada’s forthrightness, or at least, the absence of denial or efforts to conceal their choices, goes a long way in communicating that this is something that needn’t be shrouded in shame. If anything, the openness of the Smiths might go far in normalizing a practice that people have been quietly employing for decades, if not longer.
“When you can look in your man’s eyes and know that he’s holding you down and that he loves you — you know what Howard, here’s what’s real — I’m not the kind of woman that believes that a man is not going to be attracted to other women,” Jada told Stern. “I’m just not that girl. It’s not realistic. Just because your man is attracted to another woman doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you.”