She’s a businesswoman (body butter Whoop Ash is her creation), a mother to a 19-year-old son named Trey Smith, whom she shares with ex-husband Will Smith and, most recently, a minister’s wife (we featured she and husband Terrell Fletcher’s wedding on Bridal Bliss!) and community philanthropist who’s determined to put her family first and set a positive example for other women. We like her because she keeps it real, holds tight to her faith and has yet to throw a glass or punch at one of her girlfriends.
For many women, surviving divorce and coming out on top, like Fletcher has, isn’t always easy to do. She credits positivity and reflection with helping her achieve the happiness she has found today. We asked her to open up about her struggles and triumphs and to share some of the lessons she has learned along the way.
ESSENCE.com: What lessons have you learned about love from your past relationships and marriage?
SHEREE FLETCHER: That love is not just a feeling – it’s so much bigger than that. When I heard Tina Turner sing “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” I thought to myself, that’s the dumbest song ever. I was in my twenties back then, but now, it’s like an aha moment: I get it! There has to be love, but not just the euphoric, I can’t live without this person feelings. Truthfully, that kind of love comes and goes. That’s not what’s going to sustain your relationship. Love is hard work, but it’s worth having. Anything worth having is definitely worth working for and putting in the time and effort.
ESSENCE.com: How did you heal from your divorce and learn to believe in love again?
FLETCHER: For me it was just the opposite. I had to pull myself back after my divorce. I knew I needed to slow my roll and get into counseling, and so that’s what I did. I found a therapist and I hashed out some stuff because I knew the common denominator in all of these broken relationships was me. I had to get to the bottom of my stuff. After divorce there’s a death of a dream. Nobody gets married to get divorced. It was a hard time, and I knew that I needed to work through some things and understand some things. I didn’t want to take old stuff, an old way of thinking and old lies I was operating on into a new situation. I had friends I could go to, but they could only give me but so much. I knew I needed more — someone who could go deeper — a professional.
ESSENCE.com: You and Will have both moved on and blended your families so well. What was your secret?
FLETCHER: The key is to stay out of their business and pay attention to yours. It’s as simple as that. This surprises most people, but I’m actually the one that filed for divorce [from Smith]. People seem to think that Will left me for Jada, but Jada wasn’t in the picture at that time. She had nothing to do with the demise of our relationship. I went into our marriage with unrealistic expectations. I really thought that once you got married everything was just happily ever after. I believed in the fairy tale. I didn’t know we wouldn’t just be happy every day and that we’d have to really work at it. My mother and father were never married, so I had never seen a working marriage. I had no idea what it took to have a healthy marriage. I remember when he started to date Jada. My only requirement for her was that she treat my son well. You treat my son well, and we’re good. It was that simple for me. And, she did.
ESSENCE.com: What mistakes have you made in the past that you can own up to now?
FLETCHER: I don’t think I took enough time to really get to know love. I just kind of went off that feeling. I didn’t ask the hard questions, like: Who are you really? Are we compatible? You have to understand who a person is, where they’re from and their philosophies, views and upbringing. I was like, I like you and you like me; lets do this. I was super, super shallow. I really was! But you couldn’t tell me that back then. I thought I was deep. Now, I’m looking back and I’m like, oh my God, what was I doing? And, you know, God is good. God really has saved me from myself so many times.
ESSENCE.com: Do you think women are more forgiving of men then they should be during rough breakups or splits?
FLETCHER: What happens is, women give up on themselves. You need to work on you and forgive you. We’re gonna make mistakes. We’re not perfect. Sometimes we’re going to make the same mistakes over and over, and over, again. And, if you find yourself in that place, that’s the clue. For me, that’s what it was. I was doing the same things over and over again, and I knew I had to stop the madness.
ESSENCE.com: It seems that celebrity marriages are getting shorter and shorter and shorter. What do you think is going on?
FLETCHER: Marriage is just hard work, and you have to do the work. A lot of women sometimes marry potential — meaning they marry a guy thinking they’re going to take him as he is, but he still needs to be X, Y, and Z. If you don’t have X, Y, and Z at the beginning, than don’t get married. You need not put those kinds of expectations on somebody. You set yourself up for failure when you do.