- Country music legend Dolly Parton revealed the secret to her 52-year marriage to Carl Thomas Dean on February 8, the night she was honored as MusiCares Person of the Year.
- The couple married in 1966, when Parton was just 18-years-old and Dean was 21-years-old, and have remained together ever since.
- Parton noted acceptance, respect, and forgiveness as necessary factors, along with plenty of time apart.
What’s the secret to a happy marriage? According to country music legend Dolly Parton, it’s pretty simple.
“You gotta kinda respect and like each other and forgive a lot of stuff and accept a lot of things,” 73-year-old Parton told Us Weekly of her five-decade long relationship with Carl Thomas Dean. “Love each other and keep your vows.”
The pair married in May 1966, when Parton was just 18 and Dean was 21, and have remained together ever since.
And while the singer named acceptance, respect, and forgiveness as the keys to a happy marriage the night she was honored with the MusiCares Person of the Year award, she also added that distance certainly helps.
“It doesn’t hurt to have some separation,” said Parton. “I stay gone a lot, so we’re excited when we see each other!”
This isn’t the first time Parton has credited the success of her 52-year marriage to time spent apart.
“I always joke and laugh when people ask me what’s the key to my long marriage and lasting love,” she told People last November. “I always say, ‘Stay gone!’ and there’s a lot of truth to that.”
Parton offered similar advice during a Today Show appearance in 2016. “They say, ‘How did it last 50 years?'” she quipped. “I say, ‘Forty-seven of those years I was gone.'”
Carl Dean’s legendary aversion to the spotlight – he’s only appeared with Parton in public a handful of times – also allowed the pair to maintain a level of privacy that helped sustain their marriage for so many years.
“My husband is not one who wants to be just thrown out there,” the country star said in a 2016 interview with Vogue. “He’s very private, and I’ve always respected that for him and about him. And so, we just try to live our lives. Everybody is not entitled to every single thing you do and thought you think, although I do share as much of my life as I possibly can. I’m not holding back any information, but there are just some things that are sacred and private.”
Maybe a healthy dose of creative disagreement also helps.
“I know every line in his face and he knows every hair in my wig,” Parton told TODAY in 2014. “[Dean is] not particularly [a fan of my songs], but he loves me. He loves me.”