Jada pinkett smith
Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
March 3, 2024 ·  5 min read

Jada Pinkett Smith Says Friendship Is More Important Than Romance in a Marriage

Actress Jada Pinkett Smith is known for her candidness, whether it’s through her Facebook Watch series, Red Table Talk, or on a simple Instagram post. She posted a video where she discussed her 26-year marriage to Will Smith and her mistake of prioritizing romantic love and leaving her ego unchecked.

In the short clip, Jada said, “I had an epiphany the other day. I had to call Will and say, ‘You know what? I have to thank you for enduring my rage.’ It made me realize how durable love must be because we don’t have all the answers at the beginning. We go through life and we get the answers as we go, and we can break things as we’re finding the answer.”

Read: The Best Marriage Advice From A Divorced Man

Jada and Will married in 1997 on New Year’s Eve and have been open about the highs and lows of their relationship since then. 

I used to believe that romantic love was the highest form of love until I realized how unmet standards of romantic love often justified it to turn into a cold heart that many times can fuel hateful and brutal actions of revenge and manipulation towards someone you ‘say’ or ‘said’ you loved,” she wrote on Instagram. “It actually may be the only form of love you can fall OUT of. 

“At one point … MY romantic standard of love was all that mattered and if it wasn’t met … there was more than hell to pay. My romantic standards were feeding my ego whether they were met or unmet. I experienced some very hard lessons (and continue to do so) that formed the decision that my ego and my heart could not share the same space. It was also the deciding factor to transform my union to @willsmith from a marriage (contaminated with all the above) to a life partnership led by and steeped in ‘devotional friendship’. 

“The only thing to do in life is to find the form of love where we can give the best of ourselves AND … it’s not always going to look like you thought. Love, love and love some more.” [1]

Jada found that the idea of romantic love can create an impossible standard that the partner is never able to fulfill. It creates a ‘me vs. you’ dynamic and resentment toward whoever is not being ‘romantic’ enough. However, when Jada began to focus more on the friendship aspect of the relationship, the ego was taken out of the picture. It became how much can one person give to the other, not what kind of romance one would receive.

Read: These Are Five Types of Friends You Probably Don’t Need

The Importance of Friendship in a Marriage

Jada’s epiphany isn’t something exclusive to only her marriage; friendship has been proven to be a vital part of a healthy and active relationship.

A ‘friend’ is simply defined as “a person who you like and enjoy being with,” according to Merriam Webster Dictionary. And that is fundamentally how a person should feel about their spouse.

Relationship expert John Gottman, a professor at the University of Washington, and author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, says “Happy marriages are based on a deep friendship.” Research has shown that couples with a great friendship have a percentage of overall satisfaction in their marriage. In fact, some experts state that emotional connection is more important than physical intimacy in a marriage.

One 2012 study conducted by Purdue University in Indiana was among the first to connect friendship to greater sexual experiences. The researchers surveyed 184 people who were in relationships for at least 16 months and asked them what they value most in this connection. The couples who said friendship and companionship had the highest sexual satisfaction rates. [2]

Laura VanderDrift,  assistant professor of psychology and one of the authors of this study, said that people can improve their relationships by focusing on their bond as friends. 

“For people seeking help for their relationships, this could mean that focusing on the friendship shared in the relationship would benefit other areas of the relationship,she said. “For seeking a relationship, this suggests that finding a partner who is first and foremost a friend could confer myriad benefits.[3]

Anyone can sense a good relationship if the couple involved enjoys spending time together and admires each other as people. They like doing things together because having their partner present will enhance any activity or interest.

Above all, friendship helps build emotional intimacy, where each partner can speak their mind without feeling judged or insecure. Although a friendship like this takes time to build, it is very doable for everyone.

How to Build Your Marital Friendship

  • Spend quality time together
  • Communicate often, even about mundane life
  • Be honest and loyal to facilitate trust
  • Find common interests, try new things, have fun, and make memories together
  • Set the same life goals and support each other through them
  • Prioritize your spouse by giving them respect, cheering their successes, supporting each other during hard times, showing your gratitude, and being forgiving. [4]

Keep Reading:

Toxic Marriages Are More Painful For Kids Than Divorce

Psychologists Say That One of the Secret to Your Success Could be Who You Marry


  1. Michelle Darrisaw. Jada Pinkett Smith Says Friendship Is More Important Than Romance in a Marriage. Yahoo. https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/jada-pinkett-smith-says-friendship-180100296.html February 4, 2019
  2. Laura E. VanderDrift, Juan E. Wilson, Christopher R. Agnew. On the benefits of valuing being friends for nonmarital romantic partners. Sage Journals. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0265407512453009 July 13, 2012
  3. Jess Staufenberg. BEING FRIENDS IN A RELATIONSHIP IS ‘MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR’ FOR SEX LIFE AND LONGEVITY. Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/being-friends-in-a-relationship-is-most-important-factor-for-sex-life-and-longevity-a7012616.html May 4, 2016 
  4. Staci Lee Schnell, MS,CS,LMFT. The Importance of Friendship in Marriage. Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-importance-of-friendship-in-marriage/  July 8, 2019