Dolly Parton Reveals the Secret to Her 56-Year Marriage With Carl Thomas Dean

The source of their relationship longevity is pretty relatable.

Dolly Parton

Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

With 10 Grammy awards under her belt and a career that spans more than 65 years, there's no denying that Dolly Parton is a legendary country singer with the accolades to prove it. That said, she’s also accomplished major personal milestones, and there's one that's absolutely worth celebrating: her long-lasting marriage. The "Jolene" singer has been married to Carl Thomas Dean for 56 years, and she credits their thriving long-term relationship to a relatable source.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight Canada on Thursday, December 19, 2022, Parton reveals why their marriage has lasted so long: They don’t take anything too seriously. “We both have a warped sense of humor, and I think humor, honestly, is one of the best things when you’re married like that,” she admits. “Even if you have a problem, if you have a great sense of humor, if you say something you can’t take back, [you] usually have some crazy way of getting out of it.” Keeping it lighthearted has actually worked for the couple, and it's helped them avoid serious disagreements or long-lasting hurt feelings. “We’ve never had, you know, seriously arguments to say bad things to each other we have to take back,” she says.

Another secret to marriage success, according to Parton? Working in separate fields. “We’re not in each other’s face all the time,” the singer tells the outlet. “He’s not in the business, so we have different interests, but yet, we have the things we love to do together, so it was meant to be, I think. He was the one I was supposed to have and vice versa.”

In January of 2022, the country star shared another key to her happy and healthy marriage, and it's surprisingly simple. At the time, Parton explained that putting in a little effort can go a long way. “I like to dress up for Carl,” she told E! News. “Every day, I put on some makeup and fix my hair because I think, ‘Well, the whole world, I’m out here and everybody else sees me all dressed up, and I’m not going to just kind of go home and just flop on him. Nobody wants to make out with a slouch! It’s important to me that I look as good as I can. I think it kind of helps keep things spicy.”

Parton met her now-husband at a laundromat in Nashville when she was 18 years old, according to People. Two years later, on May 30, 1966, the performer tied the knot with Dean, and only her mother, the pastor, and the pastor’s wife attended the ceremony. After 56 years of marriage together, they refuse to get complacent. "I like it when people say, 'How did it last so long?’” she says. “I say, 'I stay going.’ You know, there's a lot to be said about that."

Related Stories