Dolly Parton has been married to husband Carl Dean for a whopping 54 years, so when it comes to relationship advice, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone more worthy of dishing out the wisdom than the country crooner.
Ahead of the release of her cover of Dolly’s 1973 hit “I Will Always Love You,” singer Gabby Barrett spoke with the beloved singer for Amazon Music about life, love and all things music.
Discussing relationships and marriage, Dolly was asked what her secret was to maintaining a long-lasting union, with the star explaining revealing that she believes that it’s important to “respect each other’s differences.”
“My husband and I always had a great friendship,” Parton said in the video interview shared with PEOPLE. “We’re both funny, and we both have a great and warped sense of humour so we’ve always had a good time.”
The 74-year-old continued, “He’s pretty much a loner and a homebody, and I’m a gypsy. But when I’m home, I love that. We don’t do the same thing so it gives us different stuff to talk about. He doesn’t get involved in my business, and I don’t in his, so we have our own little world that we create for ourselves.”
“I’ve always made jokes that the reason our marriage has lasted so long is because I stay gone,” she continued. “Well, there’s a lot of truth in that. We’re not in each other’s face all the time. I think there’s a lot to be said about having some sensible separation because you can’t be with somebody 24/7, 365 and not want to smack their face now and then.”
She added that throughout their five-decade-long marriage, she and Dean “have never fought.”
“We’ve never bickered back and forth because I never wanted us to say bad things that we would have to remember,” she said. “We get a little pissy now and then, but we’ll just kind of walk-off or go do something else and let that die down. You have to work at anything. Marriage is a business too, and you got to look at it like that. You got to make the right decisions for all the little things that come up.”
The country music legend then warned Barrett – who is married to fellow American Idol star Cade Foehner – that the first year of marriage is often the most difficult.
“You are trying to figure each other out and learn,” she said.
“That’s the year that you get the most rubbed wrong only because you’re having to share space with somebody you’ve never had to share your space with before. Your habits are different than theirs so you got to work those little things out.”
“It’s best just to go to the other room rather than getting in a big old argument about it, cool off and know they’re just as entitled to their opinion and their space as you are yours,” she added. “So if you can think of it like that, and just know that when you both feel like you can calm down and talk about it, that’s where the love is supposed to come in and the understanding ..”
She added, “Then if you get that worked out, smack him across the head.”