A lot of pitfalls can come with having an open marriage. When a partner allows the other to stray it can create jealousy and ruin the ties that bind a couple together.
But some believe it can improve a marriage by allowing both partners to find temporary sexual fulfillment outside the relationship. That gives frustrated partners a chance to fulfill their needs without having to leave a marriage that’s satisfying otherwise.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith recently admitted they have experimented with an open relationship and it nearly ended them for good. The couple tied the knot in 1997 and have two children, son Jaden, 23, and daughter Willow, 20. Will also has a son Trey, 28, from his marriage to Sheree Zampino.
“The general consensus—among the lay public and professional marriage counselors alike—seems to be that” consensual non-monogamy (CNM) “can only lead to more harm than good in a marriage,” writes David Ludden Ph.D. in Psychology Today. “And yet, studies of couples actually engaged in CNM relationships find that these people report being just as happy in their marriages as strictly monogamous couples are—and they’re more satisfied sexually,” Ludden continues.
“Jada never believed in conventional marriage,” Will said in a recent interview with GQ. “Jada had family members that had an unconventional relationship. So she grew up in a way that was very different than how I grew up.”
The two came to the decision after having long discussions about what it meant to have a perfect relationship.
“There were significant endless discussions about, what is relational perfection? What is the perfect way to interact as a couple? And for the large part of our relationship, monogamy was what we chose, not thinking of monogamy as the only relational perfection,” Will continued.
“We have given each other trust and freedom, with the belief that everybody has to find their own way. And marriage for us can’t be a prison,” Will said. “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.”
The couple separated a little over a year ago and at that time Jada had an affair with singer August Alsina and it nearly drove the couple to divorce. “I wasn’t sure I was ever going to speak to you again. The fact that I’m speaking to you again is a miracle,” Will said in a candid interview on Jada’s Red Table Talk show.
But somehow, the couple pulled it through.
“I’m just happy ’cause I definitely believe that you and I, we never, ever, ever thought that we would make it back,” Jada said.
The story of Will and Jada shows that even though the couple was able to make an open marriage work for a period of time, it also drove a wedge between the two.
However, the couple is back together because their relationship is about much more than just sex.
“There’s a real power in just knowing somebody’s riding with you no matter what. And you really can’t know that until you’ve been through some stuff,” Will admitted.
“We have really gotten to that new place of unconditional love,” said Jada.