The singer tears up as she speaks with Jada Pinkett Smith about “surviving divorce.”
Toni Braxton learned firsthand how “the Red Table makes you emotional” during Monday’s new episode of “Red Table Talk.” The singer joined Jada Pinkett Smith and mom Adrienne Banfield-Jones for the latest installment of Jada’s Facebook Watch series, where the three women tackled the thorny subject of divorce.
For Braxton, she split from husband of 12 years, Keri Lewis, in 2013, while Jada’s mother has three divorces of her own under her belt. Though Pinkett Smith isn’t a divorcee herself, husband Will Smith was going through one from his ex-wife when they began dating — and they’ve been open about their own relationship struggles over the years. Right off the bat, Braxton said she “hated being divorced,” before talking about how she and Keri decided to try dating again after they made their split official. “My husband became my boyfriend and we were attempting to salvage the relationship again, we were hopeful,” she said, “We dated for a good year and a half, almost 2 years after we got a divorce. I know it sounds crazy, right?”
She went on to say the couple’s two sons didn’t really know they had separated and the two tried being sneaky about the issues in their relationship around the kids. “I thought we were going to get back together and we were clever, we’d wait for the kids to go to sleep and he would leave,” she explained.
As for what went wrong, Braxton pointed to financial problems. “I felt shallow because my ex-husband and I broke up for money issues,” she explained. “I found out I had lupus at the time, I couldn’t make money because I had lupus, I had to cancel the show. That was my personal contribution to the marriage failing, because who wants to take care of a person who’s sick all the time?” She added that Lewis “never said that,” but it’s how she felt. “I remember a few times being in the hospital ill and he would come later in the day and I would think, he’s not coming because I’m sick,” she recalled, tearing up. “I never talked to my ex husband about it, I probably should have, but if I’m going to be completely honest, money was just the decoration on the tree. The tree itself was I felt because I was sick, he left. I always felt like if I didn’t get sick and I could have continued to work, we wouldn’t have had that deficit, it wouldn’t have shown its face and we would probably have still been together,” she added.
As part of the couple’s divorce settlement, Braxton said she had to pay Lewis alimony. “I was one of those girls,” she joked, “It’s me, it’s Britney [Spears], it’s Halle [Berry], Mary [J. Blige] is allegedly.”
“I was very very angry about that, but it was because we had an existing prenup and post-nup,” she explained. “I wanted to reneg. I’m gonna be honest. I thought he should say no.[But] if it were reversed and a guy had more, we would expect him to make sure the lady’s okay, we would expect that. So I can’t really bitch about it too much, however, semi-colon, that’s a tough pill.”
Toni and Keri are parents to sons Diezel and Denim and continue to spend the holidays together, something she says has “caused friction in some of my past situations.” She explained that she considers her ex “an extension of my family,” not just because of the kids, but because of their shared past. “We are family now. Kind of tough blending families, sometimes it gets difficult,” she confirmed. “Christmas morning, waking up and my baby daddy’s there. I find a lot of things I do for [the kids]. They’re boys, I don’t know how to raise boys. I can teach them how to be a good person but I can’t teach them how to be a man.”
Looking back, Braxton said she doesn’t consider the divorce a “defeat,” instead calling it a “successful marriage” that was “what it was supposed to be.” She’s now happily engaged to Birdman.
The singer also opened up about the trickier aspects of having parents who divorced later in life as well, as Evelyn and Michael Braxton split in 2000 after 34 years of marriage. “Sometimes children feel divided. I don’t want to love my dad too loud in front of my mom. That’s the toughest part,” she explained. “My parents divorced because of infidelity. My mom felt complete betrayal. The woman in me understands what my mother’s going through. Betrayal, you can’t get over that.”