Jada Pinkett Smith Credits New Perspective on Gender Roles for Strengthening 16-Year Marriage to Will Smith; Talks Open Marriage Rumors

(Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)Actress Jada Pinkett Smith and husband actor Will Smith pose at the 2011 BET Awards in Los Angeles June 26, 2011.

Jada Pinkett Smith recently revealed that changing her understanding of gender roles as they relate to marriage strengthened her 16-year union with Will Smith.

The "Gotham" star, 42, and the "Fresh Prince" actor's almost two decade-long marriage is somewhat of a rarity in Hollywood and subsequently it is often subject to media scrutiny. In a recent interview Jada revealed why their union has lasted so long in an industry where most marriages fail.

"Will, to me, encompasses everything. It's almost as if calling him 'my husband' is too small of a word for what he means in my life — and especially how I feel we, as women, identify the idea of a husband," she told Net-a-Porter's The Edit.

"I really had to mature and expand that. I think I had a very stuck idea of what a husband looks like, what a wife should be," she explained. "Once I broke all of that, a whole new world opened for me and man, oh, man, I got to see him in all his glory. And so that's what it's evolved into. And I'm just ecstatic about it."

In addition to changing her perspective on gender roles to benefit their marriage, Jada believes that friendship creates a solid foundation. She also prides herself on being a "soldier for love" in their marriage, which means not giving up during tough times.

"Not just friendship, but you also have to have a warrior mentality. You have to be a soldier for love," she told Extra, "meaning that you have to be able to withstand tough times. Just because tough times come doesn't mean it's time to stop, it means it's time to dig in. So you've got to be a soldier for love."

For years the couple, who share two children together and one son from Will's previous marriage, have been subject to rumors of an open marriage. Critics have also openly questioned the foundation of their union due to reports of infidelities, and Jada admitted that the gossip is not easy to deal with.

"The coping technique is knowing what the truth is – there's no better technique," she said. "When you know that what's going on in your house is so the opposite [of what's being said], and you also know that when there's mystery, people fill in the gaps, that's ok."

Last year the singer raised eyebrows when she revealed that Will, 45, is free to do "whatever he wants" in their marriage. She was asked whether or not they are in an open relationship and she gave the following response:

"I think people get that idea because Will and I are very relaxed with one another... I've always told Will, 'You can do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be okay," she told Dr. Marc Lamont Hill of the HuffingtonPost.