Céline Dion and René Angélil
Lilly Palmberger/Celebrity Photo
07/23/2013 AT 09:30 AM EDT
Every relationship has its ups and downs, and Céline Dion
admits that her 18-year marriage to her manager Réne Angélil has definitely had its rough patches.
"Réne and I had our tough times. It wasn't always easy," the star, 45, admits in an interview with Vegas Deluxe's Robin Leach
"We had tension between us. It's never easy being husband and wife, but add to that we are in business together, dealing with all the added pressures of shows, concerts, tours, traveling. It was hard – a lot of hard work."
The Grammy winner first met Angélil when she was 12 and he was 38 (they went on their first date when she was 19), and says that "up until seven years ago, we weren't communicating properly."
After trying to ignore their issues, Dion turned to a girlfriend for advice. "She taught me it never goes away. It sits there and gets worse. She taught me how to say things the right way," says the Las Vegas headliner, who's currently in her second residency show.
"It's lessons that every married couple should know to hold their relationship together."
The singer, who renewed her wedding vows with Angélil, now 71, in Vegas in 2000, says her friend talked to her "about the real meaning of communication, the right way to communicate."
"It changed the way we related to each other," says the mom of three
. "We laugh. We joke. We kid each other. We want our marriage to last forever. Talk over everything and you'll find you are still on the honeymoon … communication – it's the most important. It's the secret."