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Dolly Parton Discusses Her Open Marriage And The ‘Affair’ That Left Her Feeling Suicidal

Dolly Parton opened up about her open marriage to Carl Dean and that she was left feeling suicidal in the early 1980s because of an "affair."

Country music legend Dolly Parton’s marriage to husband Carl Dean has lasted for over fifty years. Just because their marriage has gone the distance, however, does not mean that it has been without its challenges. Even an American icon like Dolly Parton has struggled with the repercussions of an affair and even suicidal thoughts.

Dolly Parton Reveals She Once Considered Suicide 

The U.K. Mirror reported that the singer has described her marriage as “open” in the past, and in her book “Dolly on Dolly, Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton,” she opened up about an affair of the heart that she had in the early 1980s that left her feeling suicidal.

Parton, 74,  recalled that an “emotional” affair left her so overcome by guilt that she found herself considering suicide one day. 

“I was sitting upstairs in my bedroom one afternoon when I noticed in the nightstand drawer my gun that I keep for burglars. I looked at it a long time…” she wrote. “Then, just as I picked it up, just to hold it and look at it for a moment, our little dog, Popeye, came running up the stairs.”

“The tap-tap-tap of his paws jolted me back to reality I suddenly froze. I put the gun down. Then I prayed. I kinda believe Popeye was a spiritual messenger from God,” she added. 

“I don’t think I’d have done it, killed myself, but I can’t say for sure,” Parton wrote, reflecting on the terrifying experience.

“Now that I’ve gone through that terrible moment, I can certainly understand the possibilities even for someone solid like me if the pain gets bad enough.”

RELATED: Dolly Parton Sings Touching Tribute To Kenny Rogers While Quarantining From Coronavirus

Dolly Clarifies Her ‘Open’ Marriage

Parton has since clarified that while she calls her marriage to Carl Dean “open”, actually getting physical with another person is off the table for both her and Dean.


“Men are my weakness. 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,” she explained. 

“He’s not jealous and I’m not jealous of him. He knows I flirt. He flirts too,” Parton later 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.”

RELATED: Dolly Parton Wants To Be On The Cover Of Playboy For 75th Birthday

This Is Why We Love Dolly Parton

It’s this kind of honesty and realness from Dolly that has made her so beloved by millions of fans for decades.

Not many people would have the guts to be as open about these experiences as Dolly. But the 74-year-old has proven time and again that one thing she’s got in spades is ‘guts’.

Clearly, Dolly decided it was important to come forward in the hopes of helping others who are going through tough times. 

We’re glad that Dolly Parton made it through this difficult time and stuck around to bring us all joy for many years to come.

This should serve as a reminder that regardless of how tough things get in life, you should never give up.

In the end, you never know what good things can be around the corner for you!

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