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Dolly Parton and her husband have been together for many years but she still had an affair of sorts. She called it an “affair of the heart.” Here’s a look at how this “affair” put her in a very dark place.

Dolly Parton wearing white
Dolly Parton | Ian Gavan/Getty Images

The story of Dolly Parton and her husband

Insider reports that Parton has been married to Carl Dean for 54 years. The couple met in Nashville outside a laundromat in 1964 and married in 1966. Dean is known for remaining out of the spotlight while Parton is center stage. Interestingly, Dean has only seen his wife perform a few times and refrains from attending most award shows. Yet, their relationship has stood the test of time – although Parton has admitted to having an “affair of the heart” that left her devastated at its demise.

Dolly Parton reveals details of her ‘affair of the heart’

In a 1982 interview with Ladies’ Home Journal found in the book Dolly on Dolly: Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton, Parton discussed having an “affair of the heart” with her band leader, Gregg Perry. She states, “Gregg and I became very close… I had never spent so much time with such a well-educated and knowledgeable man… I let myself get completely wrapped up in him.” The pair were so close that Parton’s best friend, Judy Ogle, began to feel like a “third wheel” around Parton and went back into the military.

Dolly Parton with a guitar
Dolly Parton | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Parton had Perry join her in writing the music for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. However, things did not go as Parton had hoped. “It was not a fun project for anyone involved… Gregg quit altogether.” Parton said. “He told me he couldn’t take the pressure and the B.S. of the business anymore. The joy had gone out of it for him and I’m sure that I was no picnic to live with at that time… I was crushed when he left.”

The song Dolly Parton wrote about her ’emotional affair’

In response to her heartache at Perry’s departure, Parton wrote the song “What a Heartache.” In the song, she sings “I thought your love was genuine.” The “affair” was heart-wrenching for the singer. According to Dolly on Dolly, Parton told Vanity Fair “It all involved a personal heartbreak-I’m not gonna call names. But it’s plain, ain’t it? It was a love.”

“What a Heartache”

The Man Dolly Parton Did Everything With Who Wasn’t Her Husband: ‘Nobody Was Threatened’

How a ‘spiritual messenger’ saved her life

Further, Closer Weekly reports that Parton’s distraught led her to consider suicide. She looked to her gun as the answer. “I looked at it a long time. Then, just as I picked it up, just to hold it, and look at it for a moment, our little dog, Popeye, came running up the stairs… The tap-tap of his paws jolted me back to reality, I suddenly froze, and I put the gun down.”

Parton was grateful for the dog and viewed the dog as “a spiritual messenger” sent to help her out at that moment. Parton says she doesn’t think she would have killed herself. However, she says, “I can’t say for sure.” Now that I’ve gone through that terrible moment, I can certainly understand the possibilities, even for someone solid like me, if the pain gets bad enough.” Perhaps the dog was a spiritual messenger sent to help Parton after her “affair” that could have led to a devastating outcome.