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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.”

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