Dolly Parton Describes the ‘Hardest Time’ She and Her Husband Had

Dolly Parton has been married to her husband, Carl Dean, for more than five decades. The country singer admits there are times when they get annoyed with each other, like most couples. Here’s what she said about one of the “hardest times” they had during their relationship.   

Dolly Parton and Carl Dean faced divorce rumors

Dolly Parton in a black dress, with her hand raised
Dolly Parton | Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Parton spoke about her relationship with Dean during a 1982 interview with Ladies Home Journal. She says one of the things she loves about their marriage is that they have a strong friendship. However, the couple faced many divorce rumors in the tabloids. Parton wasn’t rattled by the negative attention. She believes their marriage is strong enough to weather any storm that comes their way.

“Carl and I are good friends,” Parton tells the publication. “We have a real special relationship, and they’ll have to wait a long, long time for our divorce. We’re so totally open and free that whatever happens, happens.”

The ‘hardest’ time Dolly Parton and her husband had

Dolly Parton sits on a couch while talking into a microphone and wearing a red outfit
Dolly Parton | Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for SiriusXM

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Parton admits she and Dean get “aggravated” with each other now and then. She says the “hardest” time she had during her marriage was when she and her husband were building their house. “We’ve never had a serious argument,” says Parton in her Ladies Home Journal interview. “Oh, we get a little aggravated like any couple. The hardest time was when we built our house.”

She says she told her husband she didn’t like the faucet and he responded, “Well, then why don’t you do it yourself?” Parton says Dean got upset with her because she called him by his first name. They don’t usually call each other by their first names. She says they have nicknames for each other. Dean sometimes calls Parton Angel Cakes, Mama, and a few other pet names. Parton says Dean gets mad when she calls him by his first name because it seems too formal.

“It makes him fee-urious when I call him Carl,” she tells the publication. “I always call him Daddy and he calls me Mama or Little Kid or Angel Cakes. Sometimes he calls me Dotty to be silly: ‘Okay, Li’l Dotty.’ Maybe once a year, I call him Carl, and it seems so cold that it really upsets him. Then he gets back by calling me Dolly, which cuts me to the quick.”  

Dolly Parton’s emotional affair with Gregg Perry

In addition to divorce rumors, Parton also faced questions about cheating on her husband. She turned this invasive question into a joke. In her book Dream More, the “Jolene” singer says, “Yes, once, when we were playing Monopoly.” She chooses to have a lighthearted response. “Did I get out of that one good?” the singer adds.

Although Parton jokes about cheating on her husband, there was a time when she was emotionally unfaithful. During the same interview with Ladies’ Home Journal, Parton admits she had an “affair of the heart.” She says the situation was so intense that it “shattered” her heart and almost “killed her.” She didn’t share much detail in that interview, but she did open up in her book.

In her autobiography, Parton talks about the close relationship she had with her bandleader, Gregg Perry. Parton describes Perry as “good looking and educated and capable–of anything.” She was fascinated by him. Parton says she and Perry became “very close,” and she found herself becoming “wrapped up” in him.

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