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Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith wed back in 1997, though it wasn’t exactly a dream wedding. Now, more than 20 years later, the two have gone through some ups and downs in their marriage. And they’ve learned along the way that they no longer want to call themselves husband and wife.

Jada Pinkett Smith never wanted to marry Will Smith

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith standing side by side at a press event.
Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Pinkett Smith and Smith first met on the set of Fresh Prince of Bel Air back in 1994 after Pinkett Smith auditioned for the role of Smith’s girlfriend (she didn’t get the part). Smith actually married another woman, Sheree Fletcher, before dating Pinkett Smith; he and Fletcher share his oldest child, Trey. But by 1995, he and Pinkett Smith had started dating.

Though there was a lot of love between the two, Pinkett Smith never wanted to get married. In 1997, though, she learned she was pregnant with their first child together, and she felt pressure from her mother and society to get married. “I was so upset that I had to have a wedding,” Pinkett Smith said. “I went crying down the freakin’ aisle getting married.”

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett with Jaden and Willow
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett with Jaden and Willow | Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith don’t have a conventional marriage

After tying the knot, the couple did marriage a bit differently than most duos. There have long been rumors that the two have an open relationship, though they’ve never entirely confirmed or denied that. Plus, things weren’t always smooth sailing between the couple, though that happens often in long-term relationships. Pinkett Smith and Smith separated a few years back because they felt they needed to find true happiness within themselves before they could find it in each other.

They now only refer to each other as ‘life partners’

Pinkett Smith was never for the idea of marriage, and Smith was supportive in that. When they wed, in most people’s eyes, they became husband and wife. But after a while, they learned they no longer wanted to refer to themselves as such. The couple ended up “redefining their relationship,” Pinkett Smith said in 2018. “We have all these expectations. ‘Oh, this is what a husband is. This is what a wife is.’ I started dissolving all the ideas and expectations and labels.” Now, Pinkett Smith and Smith only refer to themselves as life partners and to their marriage as a life partnership.

The couple’s marriage has been under the microscope ever since Jada Pinkett Smith’s ‘entanglement’  

Pinkett Smith hosts the Facebook series “Red Table Talk” alongside her mother and daughter, and there have been some groundbreaking confessions on the show. Most recently, Pinkett Smith and Smith discussed their separation several years ago and how Pinkett Smith was in a relationship with singer August Alsina while she and Smith were separated. She infamously referred to the relationship as an “entanglement,” and the discussion has since put her and Smith’s relationship front and center in the media. But Smith said in the past that divorce “was never an option,” and the two are still going strong.