Deborah's first husband, John Rogers, deserted her in 1725. In 1727, she heard of Rogers' death and began dating her former sweetheart, Ben Franklin. Franklin had proposed to her when she was just 15, but her mother would not allow it.
They had two children together, Francis Folger Franklin, and Sarah Franklin Bache. They also raised William Franklin together, Franklin's illegitimate son.
She operated a general store out of the front of Ben's print shop.
Her fear of ocean voyages prevented her from traveling with Ben, so she spent many years alone in Philadelphia while Ben was in Europe. In 1774, while Ben was on an extended trip to England, she died unexpectedly of a stroke.