Jada, Will and the Open Marriage?

Why are people so obsessed with the state of Mr. and Mrs. Smith's relationship?

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Apparently thirsty for more hetero-normative heroes, we repeatedly demand to know exactly what’s going on in a marriage that has survived for more than 16 years. But why? Are we hoping to follow the Smith blueprint? Will they single-handedly break us of the media fervor surrounding the black-marriage crisis? Is theirs the marriage that cannot consider divorce because the Obamas are not enough?

Even after posting her Facebook address, which, to be fair, neither directly confirmed nor denied the rumors, Pinkett Smith will most likely never shut down the gossip mill. The freaky alternative is just too juicy a tidbit of beauty-shop fodder for anyone to let go.

This week, even ABC’s The View jumped into the debate. Guest host La La Anthony applauded Pinkett Smith, saying, “I think what her message is, is that she trusts her husband. She trusts him to make the right decisions.” And comedian Whoopi Goldberg echoed that idea, saying, “The only thing you can control is you.”

So what exactly did Pinkett Smith accomplish with her latest social media lecture? I’m honestly not entirely sure.

After reading her take on love versus trust and the illusion of ownership in a relationship, I had to admit that Pinkett Smith has one very prescient point. In the age of constant digital contact, most of us have been unconsciously called upon to trust our significant others beyond the traditional metrics of what’s appropriate. Just ask Huma Abedin and her tweeting husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner.

In this new marketplace of oversharing, aren’t we all in relationships more open than ever before? Strangers with an Internet connection can know more about your day-to-day life than the person with whom you spend most of it. And doesn’t that require more from all of us? More trust, more understanding, more of our own integrity?

Perhaps Pinkett Smith just made me a convert. I still don’t know (or care) if she’s in an open relationship, but maybe that was precisely her point.

Helena Andrews is a contributing editor at The Root and author of Bitch Is the New Black , a memoir in essays. Follow her on Twitter.

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