Dolly Parton is sharing the secret to her successful marriage. The 77-year-old wed her husband, Carl Dean, when she was just 20 years old, with their relationship enduring a lot of highs and lows, including lengthy separations due to her successful career. Any other man might have balked at the time Parton devoted to her career, but Parton knew early on that Dean was the perfect match for her.
“My husband and I have been together almost 60 years,” Parton shared on Apple Music 1’s What Would Dolly Do? Radio. “We met 59 years ago, and we’ve been married 57. But he knew why I came to Nashville. He was an independent person with his own stuff, and we got along so well. Because we’re not in the same business, we respect and admire and love each other. But he knew better than to tell me that I was going to have to stop for him because I wouldn’t have done it.”
Parton has never had any trouble standing up for herself, even at a time when women had to advocate twice as hard to be heard. From very early in her career, the East Tennessee native learned to fight for what she wanted, especially when it was about her own career.
“Being from a family of six boys, my dad, my uncles, my grandpas, who I loved, I’ve never been intimidated by men in the least,’ Parton explained. “So I can walk right in a whole room of businessmen, and I can present my thoughts, and I can stand on my own two feet, and I can stand up for myself and not feel like I’m having to beg or plead. I just have a lot of trust and faith in myself.”
Thanks to her massive business empire, which includes not only her music, but her Dollywood theme park, line of fragrances, production company, Imagination Library and more, the Grand Ole Opry member is able to do so much because she has so many employees helping her get everything accomplished.
“I can tell you where to put it if I don’t like where you got it,” Parton revealed. “I’m pretty easygoing … If you really want trouble out of me, you mess with my work or you mess with my family, and then I’m going to come at you. But I actually am a very reasonable person. I allow people enough rope to hang themselves and hope they don’t. But I also have enough rope left that I can kind of reel them in and say, ‘Hey, now. I took you to heart, and you took me for granted.'”
Parton is happy to give people a lot of freedom when they are working for her, but only if that freedom isn’t abused.
“I don’t rule with an iron fist,” Parton maintained. “And whether I say anything or not, I watch people very close. I’ll let you go so far, and I think, ‘Now, surely don’t think I’m that dumb,’ because I will not let somebody mess it up for other people, not just me, or to destroy something that we’ve all built. One bad apple, as they say. But I won’t be cruel about it. I’m also fair. People leave, I give them severance pay and help them as best I can when they go, so I’m reasonable.”