Dolly Parton Talks About Secret to 52-Year Marriage

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Country music legend Dolly Parton is well-known and loved for her sassy and extravagant personality. However, there is one part of her life that she keeps carefully hidden: her 52-year-long marriage to Carl Thomas Dean.

Parton and Dean’s 1966 wedding photo.

Dolly and Carl met when the future star was just 18. The two first encountered one another at a laundry store in 1964. Carl was driving his white Chevy pickup truck when he stopped to tell Dolly that her revealing outfit would cause her to get a sunburn. The two went inside, started chatting and hit it off immediately; two years later on May 30, 1966, they got married.

Dolly Parton People MagazineNow Dolly, who sat down with People magazine, has opened up exclusively about finding lasting love with Carl. Not much is known about Carl personally except that he was born July 20, 1942, in Nashville, Tennessee. Other than that and being married to Dolly, Carl tends to keep out of the spotlight, not even attending any of his wife’s shows.

“I’ve been married for 53 years come next May, and my husband and I have a great relationship,” says the 72-year-old star, who recorded six new songs for the soundtrack of Dumplin’, Netflix’s upcoming film starring Jennifer Aniston . “We’ve been together most of our lives.”

So what’s the secret to their lifetime of love? Dolly’s explanation is simple: “I always say, ‘Stay gone!’ and there’s a lot of truth to that. I travel a lot, but we really enjoy each other when we’re together and the little things we do.”

When Dolly has free time, she and her husband take small trips in their camper and head to the Tennessee countryside for nice picnic lunches. The two also prefer low-key dinners at their favorite local restaurants to the more glamorous dates that other stars could have with their spouses.

In fact, their first date consisted of dinner from McDonald’s. “We know a few little places we can go without being bothered. He only likes to go places where he can be comfortable!”

Parton’s 50th wedding anniversary dress.

Although their mutual adoration and dedication is obvious to most, the couple never had any children as an extension of their love. Instead, Parton says she spoils her nieces and goddaughter, Miley Cyrus. “Now that I’m older, I realize I didn’t have kids of my own, so everybody’s kids could be mine. I [want to] empower children and give them confidence,” she said.

While she has kept her family life private, fans of Dolly would know that the star has a flamboyant fashion sense to complement her equally flamboyant persona. To her husband Carl, however, it doesn’t matter. “He doesn’t care what I wear as long as I’m happy,” says Parton. “He loves me the way I am.”

The couple took the opportunity to renew their vows two years ago on their 50th wedding anniversary at their home in Nashville. Their original ceremony wasn’t the dream wedding they had wanted, since back in 1966, Dolly’s record label preferred that she stay single; but, this didn’t stop them from eloping in secret. “We’d already sent out invitations and so I thought, ‘I ain’t waiting!’ We went that same weekend to Ringgold, Georgia, in a little church. I had a little white dress and little flowers, and my mom went with me.”

Now for their 50th anniversary, Dolly finally got to wear the gown of her dreams. She and Carl both got all dressed up and gave themselves the perfect wedding. Dolly was nothing but thrilled, “Fifty years is a long time for anything, and I felt that we needed to do something to commemorate this. It’s been a good 50 years and I don’t know how many more years we’ll have left.”

While that last statement may be true, one thing is clear: Dolly Parton and Carl Thomas Dean are definitely a relationship goal and proof that absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder.

Jessica Baker

Jessica Baker is a Journalism and Emerging Media major at KSU and an intern at Hers Magazine as well as AllWrite Publishing.

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