Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith 'Shielded' Kids Jaden and Willow from Marriage Issues: Source

Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith revealed they went through a brief separation several years ago

Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith kept their kids in focus while going through a brief separation.

The couple recently revealed their temporary split on the latest episode of Red Table Talk, Pinkett Smith's hugely popular Facebook Watch show.

Pinkett Smith, 48, described the period in their relationship as "very difficult" and said that she and Smith, 51, had decided to “separate for a period of time.” During their separation, Pinkett Smith said she had a romantic relationship with singer August Alsina.

A source tells PEOPLE in this week's issue the couple kept any strife between them away from kids Jaden, 22, and Willow, 19. Smith also has son Trey, 27, with ex-wife Sheree Zampino.

"The kids have always been a uniting factor for them. And it was never chaotic in the house. They shielded a lot of what they were going through from their kids. In bad times Jada would just be gone a lot," the source says.

will and jada pinket smith with their children
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"From the beginning, their issues haven’t been any different than most other couples," the source adds. "They’re two different people trying to make it, and on top of it there’s this huge spotlight on them. Up until now they’ve done a great job of being able to keep their issues private. But their problems aren’t unique. They got together pretty young and they’ve grown and changed and adapted. They learn more about each other every day."

<a href="https://people.com/tag/will-smith/" data-inlink="true">Will Smith</a> and Jada Pinkett Smith
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In the episode, Smith said their brief split had taken a toll on him, saying, "I wasn’t sure I was ever going to speak to you again. Like the fact that I’m speaking to you again is a miracle. [Marriage] ain’t for the weak at heart. There’s just certain things that you have to go through. I wish it could be all magic and miracles."

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Pinkett Smith agreed, saying, "You gotta go through some s— to get the answers. And I’m just happy because I definitely believe that you and I, we never ever, ever thought that we would make it back."

"It’s the idea of any relationship and trying to get to a deeper understanding of love is going to be forced in fire. There’s no way around it," she added. "And I think that one of the things that I’m deeply grateful for in this whole process between you and I is that we have really gotten to that new place of unconditional love."

Smith said, "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 go through some stuff."

The two laughed as they repurposed the tagline from Smith's movie Bad Boys: "We ride together, we die together. Bad marriage for life."

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