Will Smith felt "abandoned" when his wife Jada Pinkett Smith sought to take control of her life.
The 47-year-old actress needed to find "autonomy" within their marriage in order to ensure it would last and though they explored their relationship and expectations together, the 'Men In Black' star didn't initially feel comfortable.
Speaking to therapist Esther Perel on her own 'Red Table Talk' show, Jada said: "Specifically for me, in regards to redefining my marriage as a life partnership was the necessity of autonomy for myself and for Will.
"And finding the core of us that wanted to be together outside of the constraints of the traditional ideas of marriage because they weren't working for us.
"We went on that journey to find that autonomy and to find the true authentic bond outside of obligation. I don't want you to be obligated."
Asked how Will took the news, she added: "He felt abandoned at first, he felt really abandoned. You never want to hurt the person that you love. You never want to create instability that way."
Before she pushed for changes, the 'Bad Moms' star - who has children Jaden, 20, and Willow, 18, with her 50-year-old husband - admitted she felt like a pressure to be a "perfect wife" and support her spouse to fulfill his dreams, regardless of her own ambitions.
She said: "You have to be the perfect wife, you have to be the source that supports his dreams, no matter what it is, whatever he wants to build you're there to support that.
"Our whole life looked like his dream. I'm his energy source. That's great, but I've got to create part of this life that is designed and looks like me."
Jada admitted it has been an "excruciating process" to extract her emotional independence from her marriage because she wanted to stop both herself and the 'Aladdin' actor from expecting her to "need" him to "be something" for her.
She said: "It has been one of the most excruciating processes of my life.
"I've wanted to personally break out of Will needing to be something for me because I felt like that was so unfair. And a lot of it had to do with my father issues. I just realised one day, 'This man is not your father!' "
Esther added: "Or he's not meant to be everything your father was not."
Jada agreed: "That was the thing, I was like, '[Jada], you gotta grow up. You gotta be a woman. That little girl trauma does not work here.' That was the work I had to do."