Inside Alan Jackson’s 40-Year Love Story With His Wife, Denise
Alan Jackson and his wife Denise have long been one of country music fans' favorite couples, but there's a lot more to their decades-long love story than meets the eye.
The couple met in Newnan, Ga., as teenagers, and they were high school sweethearts. Denise didn't even have to change her name when they wed on Dec. 15, 1979; her maiden name was also Jackson.
Denise played a major role in helping her husband achieve his dreams of country music stardom when, early on in their marriage when she was working as a flight attendant, she spotted Glen Campbell at the airport. She approached him and explained that her husband was an aspiring country singer, and Campbell gave her a business card for his Nashville publishing company. That company signed Alan Jackson to his first songwriting deal and helped the young newcomer establish valuable contacts in town.
Alan and Denise started a family even as he was beginning to have some career success. He released his debut album, Here in the Real World, in February of 1990, and they welcomed their oldest daughter, Mattie Denise, on June 19 of that same year. Alexandra Jane "Ali" followed on Aug. 23, 1993, and Dani Grace was born on Aug. 28, 1997. As Jackson's career fortunes continued to grow, he built a massive plantation-style mansion inspired by Tara from Gone With the Wind for his family, and from the outside, they appeared to be living a fairytale.
You've Never Seen Anything Like Alan Jackson's Mansion!
But the strains of Jackson's career were weighing heavily on their marriage, and in 1997, Alan and Denise Jackson separated for several months before ultimately working through their problems in marital counseling and reconciling. Their period of separation helped inspire one of his most classic songs, "Remember When," and the video for the song features the couple dancing through their cares as the world goes by.
Denise revealed in her 2007 book, It's All About Him, that her husband had been unfaithful during the period leading up to their separation. She credited her newfound re-commitment to her Christian faith with helping to salvage their marriage.
"The greatest blessings in my life have come out of my worst shattering," she told People. "His betrayal and our separation were what led to this new, passionate love relationship with God and also led to us being able to have the kind of marriage that we both always wanted but just didn't know how to have."
The couple went through another trial in 2010, when Denise was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. She beat the disease after chemotherapy and prayer, and in an interview with the Palm Beach Post in 2012, her husband admitted her diagnosis “made us change our whole outlook on life, what we value and what’s important. That’s what happens in situations like that.”
As a result, they sold off several of their residences and simplified their lives, and when Jackson is not on the road, he and Denise try to spend as much time together as they possibly can.
"We try to get out and go to dinner or hang out and go to the movies or something. We build a fire and have some wine and a nice evening," he tells the Boot.
"We get up in the morning and drink coffee together and talk, and I can't go to bed at night if she's downstairs watching television. We go to bed together, unless I'm out of town," he shares. "It's just little things I think that have helped us more than anything. If you can last until you're 40 years old, hopefully, you'll be mature enough to figure out the rest of the years."
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