Dolly Parton has been married to her husband, Carl Dean, for 54 years, so it's no secret that the country music icon knows what it takes to make a relationship last. Speaking with Gabby Barrett in an interview for Amazon Music, via PEOPLE, Parton offered the young star a few marriage tips, sharing that she thinks a little distance is key.
"I've always made jokes that the reason our marriage has lasted so long is because I stay gone," she said. "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."
Parton revealed that in all their years together, 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 74-year-old added that another cornerstone of her and Dean's relationship is "a great friendship." "We're both funny, and we both have a great and warped sense of humor so we've always had a good time," she shared. "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."
Barrett married fellow American Idol alum Cade Foehner in October 2019 and the couple is currently expecting their first child, a daughter. Parton told her that the first year of marriage "is probably the hardest" because "you are trying to figure each other out and learn."
"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," she explained. "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," Parton 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... Then if you get that worked out, smack him across the head."