Jada Pinkett Smith Recalls 'Infuriating' Pressure to Marry Will Smith When She Got Pregnant

"I never wanted to get married," says Jada in this week's PEOPLE cover story

Jada Pinkett Smith fell hard for Will Smith when they started dating in 1995. But after they learned she was pregnant with son Jaden, now 21, two years into their relationship, the prospect of marriage immediately took center stage.

“I never wanted to get married,” says Jada in this week’s cover story, in which she, her daughter Willow, 18, and mother Adrienne, 65, the stars of Facebook Watch’s Red Table Talk, discuss their family’s unbreakable bond.

“But my mother was like, ‘You have to get married’ – she’s so old school – and Will wanted a family. So I said, ‘All right, maybe it’s something I should do.”

Jada Pinkett Smith and <a href="https://people.com/tag/will-smith/" data-inlink="true">Will Smith</a>
Kevin Winter/Getty

While the star, 47, had little desire for a big, traditional wedding, Will and her mother, known as Gammy to her family, shared a different vision. “Gammy freaking called Will and cried her freaking eyes out, so then I had to have a wedding and that was infuriating,” says Jada, who was in her first trimester and struggling with morning sickness when they tied the knot on New Year’s Eve, 1997.

In hindsight, Jada is grateful she took the plunge, but at the time, the prospect of happily-ever-after seemed the stuff of fantasy. “I had never seen a happy marriage,” she says. “I adored Will, I f——- adored him, but I just didn’t want to be married.”

Even 21 years into their marriage, Jada and Will don’t label themselves as married and adhere to what she views as a suffocating expectations of the conventional marital paradigm. Instead, she says, “It’s more of a life partnership… I don’t own him. He doesn’t own me. He has to be his own person first, and vice versa… Love is freedom.”

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