Growing up, my parents always told me that the key to a lasting relationship is friendship.
Have I always been successful following this piece of advice?
Do I still value my parents’ words of wisdom?
Last week, Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith sat down for a Red Table Talk where Jada elaborated on her brief entanglement with singer-songwriter August Alsina.
After rewatching the twelve-minute clip, I stand definite in my belief that relationships are built on the foundation of friendship.
Communication is key
I never realized how important it was to talk to your partner about everything, until last week’s episode of Red Table Talk.
Throughout the video, both Will and Jada emphasized their inability to communicate with one another after years of unresolved quarrels.
“We did everything we could to get away from each other, only to realize that was not possible” – Jada Pinkett Smith 5:26
The biggest misconception about how to communicate with your partner is that communication is the same as making conversation.
Communication in relationships is about connecting and using your verbal, written, and physical skills to fulfill your partner’s needs.
It’s about understanding your partner’s point of view, offering support, and letting them know that you are there.
Unconditional love without ego
Unconditional love essentially means loving someone or something without any conditions.
In other words, no matter what another person says, does, feels, thinks, or believes in, we still love them unconditionally.
We display this form of love towards paternal children, family, and close friends, but rarely showcase unconditional love towards our partner.
For Will, his unconditional love for Jada is seen in its entirety on the video.
He even goes on to recall a time where he told her, “I can love you through anything”.
It is imperative that we learn how to access unconditional love, because, without it, we’re just setting unrealistic expectations on what we perceive perfect relationships to be.
No matter how close to a soulmate we may find, every individual is incredibly different from the next.
There have been speculations for years that Jada and Will Smith’s marriage included outside relationships, which may have brought about times of forgiveness and accepting wrongdoing.
In practicing forgiveness, people are able to break a cycle that so many couples get into, where there is an ongoing, destructive back and forth, and no one really wins.
Couples who do practice forgiveness show more behavioral regulation and have more positive motivation toward their partner.
Meaning, they are able to move on from a situation without harboring negative feelings from the past.
Acknowledging the past
The past can keep us imprisoned if we don’t learn to let go of painful memories.
Moving on from the past also means stepping into the unknown future.
It means having the courage to let go of what is familiar – even if it’s negative – and being vulnerable enough to embrace and learn from what’s ahead.
What I loved most about this particular episode of Red Table Talk is Jada’s ability to acknowledge her past with Alsina, while still remaining devoted to Will and their marriage.
It shows the integrity you have to have as a person to admit when you’ve done wrong, yet remaining dedicated in your relationship to the one who holds your heart.
Contrary to popular belief, platonic friendships between men and women exist.
Much like my parents taught me to believe, establishing a friendship before experiencing sexual intimacy with someone is needed before entering a long-lasting relationship.
We should be giving our relationship partners the same kind of support we give our friends.
We rarely criticize our friends or put them down in public, and we often take our time to listen to them and understand their perspective, even if we think they’re wrong.
This isn’t to say you wouldn’t do these things with a romantic partner if you weren’t friends with him or her first, but you’re certainly more likely to do them when that friendship foundation is already there.
I felt this energy while watching Jada and Will on screen.
Many people viewed Will to be upset with Jada as she divulged the details of her relationship with August, but I saw something completely different.
What I saw was two friends having an honest conversation with one another.
Acknowledging the past, forgiving what was done, and ultimately making a joke out of the whole ordeal.
Although we will never know what truly goes on between two famous married celebrities, I can appreciate the lessons I took out of last week’s episode of Red Table Talk.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever have a Will Smith type of partner.
But I do know that the man for me would have to be my friend first, and a devoted, unconditional love-giving mate second.
We ride together, we die together, bad future marriage for life.