Dolly Parton has been happily married for over five decades; now, she’s giving a peek behind the curtain at how she’s made it last so long.
In the new People cover story, Parton opened up about her long marriage to the reclusive Carl Thomas Dean.
“I’ve been married for 53 years come next May, and my husband and I have a great relationship,” Parton said. “We’ve been together most of our lives.”
Now 72, Parton first met Dean when she was only 18 but over the decades he has stayed completely out of the spotlight, never appearing with her at public events.
“I always joke and laugh when people ask me what’s the key to my long marriage and lasting love,” the country superstar said. “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.”
Parton said she and her husband do go out in public, even enjoying very low-key dates.
“When I met my husband, he wanted to take me out to dinner. He pulled up to the drive-in window and got our food at McDonald’s,” she recalled. “We know a few little places we can go without being bothered. He only likes to go places where he can be comfortable!”
The country legend also talked about how she and Dean eloped due to her record label insisting she not marry.
“We’d already sent out invitations and so I thought, I ain’t waiting! 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.”
Parton and Dean did finally have a proper ceremony to commemorate their marriage two years ago.
“I never really felt like I had the wedding that we really wanted,” she explained. “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.”