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Dolly Parton Dishes On The Secrets To Her 52-Year-Long Happy Marriage To Carl Thomas Dean

littlethings.com logo littlethings.com 11/19/2018 Kim Wong-Shing
a close up of Dolly Parton © DollyParton.com dolly parton

Dolly Parton has been married to her husband, Carl Thomas Dean, for a mind-boggling 52 years now. The beloved country legend told People all about the couple’s secrets to a long, successful marriage.

Dolly met Carl when she was just 18 years old. Now 72, she says their relationship is as happy as ever. Two years ago, they even renewed their vows at their “big ol’ house” in Nashville!

“I’ve been married for 53 years come next May, and my husband and I have a great relationship,” Dolly said. “We’ve been together most of our lives.”

“I always joke and laugh when people ask me what’s the key to my long marriage and lasting love. 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 and Carl do find time to spend together, they enjoy low-key dinners and short trips in their “little camper.”

Dolly Parton smiling for the camera © Steve Marcus / Reuters

Dolly and her husband don’t ever appear at public events together, because Carl has no interest in the spotlight. But behind closed doors, this couple’s 52-year marriage is going strong.

Dolly Parton et al. posing for the camera © MPTV / Reuters

Dolly appears on this month’s cover of People, and inside the issue, she reveals how she and Carl have managed to make it work for so long.

Dolly Parton with her mouth open © @dollyparton / Instagram

“I always say ‘Stay gone!’ and there’s a lot of truth to that,” Dolly admitted. “I travel a lot, but we really enjoy each other when we’re together and the little things we do.”

Dolly Parton posing for a picture © MPTV / Reuters

When Dolly has time off, she and Carl go on mini trips in their “little camper” around the Tennessee countryside. They also enjoy going out for dinner at local restaurants – but they always keep it low-key.

“We know a few little places we can go without being bothered. He only likes to go places where he can be comfortable!” Dolly said.

Dolly Parton posing for the camera © MPTV / Reuters

Also important: Dolly says her husband loves her no matter what she’s wearing, but she still makes an effort to look nice.

“He knows I’m always going to kind of be fixed up for him because I don’t believe in going home and being a slouch,” she said. “He doesn’t care what I wear as long as I’m happy. He loves me the way I am.”

Dolly Parton with pink hair © Reuters

Dolly and Carl renewed their vows two years ago in Nashville to celebrate their 50th anniversary. They originally married in 1966.

Dolly Parton holding a sign © Fred Prouser / Reuters

At the time, they had to elope because Dolly’s record label wanted her to remain unmarried.

“We’d already sent out invitations, and so I thought, ‘I ain’t waiting!'” Dolly recalled. “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.”

Dolly Parton posing for a picture © Carlo Allegri / Reuters

For their vow renewal ceremony, Dolly got the wedding of her dreams.

“I never really felt like I had the wedding that we really wanted,” she said. “He got all dressed up and I got all dressed up. 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.”

Dolly Parton holding a guitar © Cathal McNaughton / Reuters

Dolly and Carl never had children of their own, which probably leaves them with plenty of time for date nights during Dolly’s time off. They’re also close with Dolly’s goddaughter, Miley Cyrus, and their many nieces.

Dolly Parton wearing a costume © Carl Marcus / Reuters

“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,” Dolly explained.

a person holding a guitar © @dollyparton / Instagram

On top of that, she is also executive producing an eight-part anthology series based on her music, which is scheduled to debut on Netflix in 2019.

Dolly Parton et al. posing for the camera © @dollyparton / Instagram

She hopes these projects will inspire young women who’ve had to struggle to succeed, like she did. Dolly famously grew up poor with 11 siblings.

“I grew up in a very poor family with no material things. I had to claw and scratch my way through everything,” Dolly told People.

a group of people wearing costumes © @dollyparton / Instagram

“With a big family like mine, as many sisters and nieces and my girlfriends, I can certainly relate to what girls go through in their young years and even in their adult years,” Dolly said of Dumplin’. “It’s not easy for anybody, but for young girls, it’s good to inspire them and let them know that it’s okay to be you.”

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