Dolly Parton on the Sweet Secret to Her Happy 54-Year Marriage to Husband Carl Dean

Dolly Parton married her husband, Carl Dean, when she was 20 years old. They’re still happily together to this day. In her 2020 book, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics, Parton shares the secret to her long-lasting marriage.

Dolly Parton at the premiere of Netflix's "Dumplin.'"
Dolly Parton | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

How Dolly Parton met her husband, Carl Dean

Parton took a bus to Nashville right after graduating high school. She would have gone sooner, but she knew her father would have “sent a posse after me if I had left home.” On her first day in the city, she met her future husband just outside of a laundromat called the Wishy Washy. He asked her out on a date, she said yes, and the rest is history. Two years later, they were married (in secret, across state lines).

Dolly Parton and Carl Dean ‘have a great sense of humor’ together

Parton writes that the secret to her lasting marriage with Dean is that they have a lot of respect and trust for each other. They also have a lot of fun.

“We have a great sense of humor,” she wrote. “We’re as funny as can be. You would absolutely roll on the floor if you saw us together.  We just do these routines all the time, without even realizing that we’re doing them. We’re both very witty and very quick. He’s really funny, and I’ve been known to be. So sometimes we just laugh so hard.”

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Parton goes on to say that “laughter” has been one of the “best parts of our relationship.”

Parton and Dean keep each other guessing.

“I never know what he’s going to do or say, and he never knows what I’m going to do or say,” she wrote.

They keep it simple

Parton and Dean also have a lot of freedom in their relationship.

“I don’t choke him to death, saying do this or don’t do that,” she wrote. “We love our freedom.”

Despite the fact that Parton is one of the biggest stars of our time, she and her husband live “peaceful” lives.

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“We have a lot of things in common,” she wrote. “We both like to travel around. We have our little camper, and we like to get out and just sightsee. We’ll stop at a grocery store, get a few little things, and go picnicking. We’ll go to drive-through restaurants. We just like to do simple things. We don’t complicate our lives, and we don’t overthink things. We live a pretty peaceful life, actually.”

Parton says, at the end of the day, she and Dean are the best of friends.

“I think if you can be friends, that’s a big, big part of it,” she wrote. “There’s nothing you can’t do together. Being great friends is the secret of happiness.”