Dolly Parton gives Hoda advice about marriage, living together in quarantine

The country legend, who has been married for nearly 54 years, shared some marital advice with Hoda Kotb, whose wedding is on the horizon.
/ Source: TODAY

Dolly Parton is coming up on her 54th wedding anniversary next month, so Jenna Bush Hager figured she was the perfect person to ask for some marital advice for co-host Hoda Kotb on TODAY Thursday.

The country music legend shared with Hoda what she's learned over the years and even right now living in coronavirus quarantine with husband Carl Dean. Hoda's wedding is on the horizon after she got engaged to longtime boyfriend Joel Schiffman in November.

"I would say if you're trapped in the house with him, you might want to be in separate rooms," Parton joked on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna. "The reason it worked for me is because I've stayed gone. I can't get away now. I'm stuck there now. I might find out who he is. We may not make it until the next anniversary."

Being able to laugh together has been crucial for Parton and Dean, even if it's gallows humor amid the stress.

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"We both are very crazy people, and we have a completely different sense of humor, but we just absolutely laugh all the time and that's been true through the years,'' she said. "I think there's a whole lot to be said about being good friends, but a good sense of humor, like even right now during these times I've been making jokes about some of the stuff.

"People say, 'Oh you shouldn't be talking about that.' I say, 'Oh, I know it's no laughing matter what's going on, but laughter truly is the best medicine, and it's true with relationships as well.'"

Parton also reflected on another heartwarming relationship she had over the years, this one with good friend Kenny Rogers, a fellow country music legend and duet partner who died at 81 earlier this month.

"When Kenny passed away, it caught me by surprise," she said. "I knew he wasn't doing well, but it was just like I lost someone so close to me it just broke my heart. It just shocked me. I was very emotional about it for several days, and then I kind of put it in a peaceful place knowing that he's at peace.

"I'll always treasure what we had together."

The country music star also spoke about her new online program, "Goodnight with Dolly," in which she will be reading bedtime stories starting Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on her Imagination Library pages on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

"I thought this would be a wonderful time with kids having to be stuck at home with their parents, (and) the parents being stuck with kids,'' Parton said on TODAY Thursday. "I thought, 'Why don't I just read a book to everybody while their parents have their kids up in bed?'"

Parton is a self-proclaimed "book lady" whose Imagination Library gifting program has mailed free books to the families of millions of children since the program's inception in 1995.

As part of her new "Goodnight with Dolly" series, she will be reading a bedtime story on her social media channels every Thursday night for 10 weeks, starting with the classic "The Little Engine That Could." Parents can also feel free to enjoy a bedtime story courtesy of Parton as they deal with the anxiety over the coronavirus.

"It's a real positive book for the times right now," she said.

Parton also announced on Instagram Wednesday that she is donating $1 million to Vanderbilt University Hospital in her home state of Tennessee to be put toward a cure for COVID-19.

"My friend, Dr. Naji Abumrad, we've been friends for years ... and he was telling me they had come up with a bridge treatment to save lives while they find the vaccine," Parton said. "I don't know exactly all the details about it, but they're very excited about it, it's something very helpful.

"I just felt like this was the time for me to open my heart and my hand and try to help with that."