Inside Dolly Parton’s ‘open’ relationship with her husband of 56 years Carl Thomas Dean

Dolly Parton has enjoyed a decades-long career which has seen her win countless awards, travel all over the globe and become one of the most famous country stars in the world.

While her life may have changed after she skyrocketed to fame, one thing that has remained the same is her beloved husband Carl Dean.

The Jolene hitmaker first met Carl outside their local laundrette in 1964 when she was 18 and he was 21. Within two years they were married and they’ve managed to keep the romance alive throughout their relationship. While Dolly previously admitted that “men are my weakness”, her husband doesn’t seem to mind and he knows she “loves him madly”.

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“Men are my weakness,” the country singer explained. “Short, fat, bald or skinny — I’ve had crushes on some very unusual men but Carl knows I’ll always come home and I’m not having sex with these people — I’m just flirting and having fun.

“He’s not jealous and I’m not jealous of him. He knows I flirt. He flirts too,” Dolly wrote in her 2017 book Dolly on Dolly, Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton. She added: “Yes, it’s an open relationship, but not sexually and I would kill him if I thought he was doing that.

“He would shoot me too. At the end of the day we love each other madly.”

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In 2022, Dolly shared another insight into their romance as she opened up about how they keep their marriage “spicy”. Speaking to E! News, she explained how she likes to “dress up” for her man.

“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,” she told the publication. Things haven’t always been positive for Dolly and Carl, as she revealed she had an “affair of the heart”. In her 2017 book, Dolly said she had a “broken heart” from an unidentified lover after having an “affair”. She said it happened outside of her “open, long marriage” and admitted it was purely an emotional fling.

Despite their low points, Dolly and Carl certainly have a lot of love for one another. Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, the singer recalled one sweet conversation she had with her husband: “He said, ‘’I didn’t choose this world, I chose you, and you chose that world. But we can keep our lives separate and together.’ And we do and we have.”

Dolly and Carl never had children together, but Dolly confessed they had both wanted kids. Speaking to Billboard, she revealed: “When my husband and I were dating, and then when we got married, we just assumed we would have kids. We weren’t doing anything to stop it. In fact, we thought maybe we would. We even had names if we did, but it didn’t turn out that way.”

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However, she added: “God has a plan for everything. I think it probably was his plan for me not to have kids so everybody’s kids could be mine.”

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