Dolly Parton shares secret behind her 52-year marriage to husband Carl Thomas Dean

For Dolly Parton, absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

The 72-year-old country music icon opened up to People magazine about her journey to lasting love with husband Carl Thomas Dean.

“I’ve been married for 53 years come next May, and my husband and I have a great relationship,” she said. “We’ve been together most of our lives.”

But Parton’s secret to a long and happy life in the spotlight may come as a surprise to some.

“I always joke and laugh when people ask me what’s the key to my long marriage and lasting love,” she said. “I always say ‘Stay gone!’ and there’s a lot of truth to that.”

Parton met Dean in 1964 on her first day in Nashville at the Wishy Washy Laundromat. Soon after, Dean treated her to some fast food on one of their first dates. She recalled, “He pulled up to the drive-in window and got our food at McDonald’s.”

Dolly Parton and husband Carl Thomas Dean, right, married in 1966.

Dolly Parton and husband Carl Thomas Dean, right, married in 1966. (Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)

She must not have minded, either, as the two got married in 1966 and have been together ever since.

Parton’s reclusive husband has avoided the public eye during that time, rarely attending public events with his wife.

“We know a few little places we can go without being bothered,” Parton says. “He only likes to go places where he can be comfortable!”

And, according to an interview with “Today” in 2014, he isn’t even a big fan of her music.

“I know every line in his face and he knows every hair in my wig,” Parton shared. “(He’s) not particularly (a fan of my songs), but he loves me. He loves me.”

Despite all this, Parton and Dean are still holding strong more than five decades later. When they are together, Parton and Dean continue to keep it low key. They prefer trips in their “little camper” over plush resorts and countryside picnics over cushy restaurants.

“I travel a lot, but we really enjoy each other when we’re together and the little things we do,” says Parton.

This article originally appeared on Page Six