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Dolly Parton© David Becker

Dolly Parton's confession about her 57-year marriage to Carl Dean will surprise you

The Jolene singer has been married since 1966

Jenni McKnight
US Lifestyle Editor
June 1, 2024
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Dolly Parton and her husband Carl Dean have been together for a whopping 57 years – and the secret to their happy union may just surprise you. 

The 78-year-old's husband, 81, prefers to keep himself out of the spotlight and hasn't been pictured publicly with Dolly for decades. But keeping their relationship out of the limelight isn't the reason for their longstanding marriage.

WATCH: Inside Dolly Parton and Carl Dean's epic love story

According to Dolly, they've lasted almost six decades because they don't spend every waking minute together. 

"I'm just saying, anything new gets old," she told E! News. "And I think if you just kind of stay together so much, you just nitpick every little thing and notice all that." 

Agreeing that absence really does make the heart grow fonder, Dolly continued: "It's worked for us because we both do different things and it's exciting when we are together. 

"So the fact that there's some little space that makes it exciting when you go home." 

dolly parton carl dean© Instagram
Dolly and Carl have been married for 57 years

But when they spend time together, Dolly and Carl are eager to "enjoy" each other's company. 

"We just enjoy each other," she said. "I like to cook. And one of the things that we like to do—not necessarily a date night, we have a lot of date days—we have our little RV and we like to travel around." 

She added: "Going down and get some food or I'll make a picnic and we go down to the river and have a picnic and just kind of ride around and do our little things." 

dolly parton husband carl dean© Instagram
Dolly was 18 when she met Carl

Dolly was only 18 when she first met Carl, who was 21 at the time, outside their local laundromat in Nashville on the first day she moved to Music City in 1964. 

Two years later in 1966, shortly before Dolly released her first album, they were married in Ringgold, Georgia, with only her mother there as a witness. 

It was shortly after their wedding Carl made it clear to Dolly, that he had no desire to follow her into the public eye. 

dolly parton and husband carl dean© Instagram
Carl has remained out of the spotlight

"He went to one thing with me early on when we first married to a BMI Song of the Year," she said on her Apple Music radio show What Would Dolly Do? in November. 

"He came out there taking off his tuxedo, his tie, and all that, and said, 'Don't ever ask me to go to another one of these damn things because I ain't going'. I never asked him and he never did."

"Carl has never been in the limelight and all, never wanted to be in it," she added. "He don't like it."

Carl dean and dolly parton© REX/Shutterstock
Carl hasn't been pictured with Dolly in decades

In 2016, the pair marked their 50th wedding anniversary in a very special way as they decided to get married for a second time. "We're going to get married again!" Dolly gushed to People ahead of their vow renewal.

"I'll have a beautiful wedding dress, 'cause I didn't have a big, long wedding dress when we got married, and we've got a suit for him, so we're going to dress up and take a bunch of pictures." 

Dolly and Carl never had children, and it's not a decision she regrets. "I haven't missed it like I thought I might," she told Saga magazine

dolly parton rock and roll hall of fame induction 2022© Getty Images
Dolly doesn't regret not having children

"When you're a young couple, you think you're going to have kids, but it just wasn't one of those burning things for me. I had my career and my music and I was traveling. If I'd had kids, I'd have stayed at home with them. I'm sure and worried myself to death about them." 

She added: "With everything that's going on, I'd hate to be bringing a child into this world right now! I always say God didn't let me have children so that all kids could be mine."

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