Inside Tammy Wynette's Relationship With George Jones

From Jay-Z and Beyonce to Johnny and June Carter Cash and from Ike and Tina Turner to Sonny and Cher, the husband-wife duo can be a musical dynamo. One of the most all-time well-known couples in popular music is country singers Tammy Wynette and George Jones. Per Outsider, Jones and Wynette — already established musicians in their own right — married in 1969, and the power couple would go on to produce many of the biggest hits in country music history all throughout the '70s, including "The Ceremony," "Two Story House," "Near You," and many others.

Nothing that either musician had accomplished prior to their relationship matched the level of success they found as a couple, and the bus they toured in even said on the side, "Mr. and Mrs. Country Music," according to Biography. Country songs often tell stories about the sweetness of love and marriage, but they are also known to share true tales of heartbreak and loss. Looking beyond the music made by Tammy Wynette and George Jones proves the truth about their relationship is most definitely the latter.

It was rocky

George Jones and Tammy Wynette had already been married and divorced when they first met, and Wynette, in fact, was still married to her second husband, according to Biography. The attraction between the two musicians was undeniable, however, and they soon married after Wynette got her divorce. The pair would go on to make some of their most legendary music together. As George Jones revealed in Ken Burns' 2019 "Country Music" documentary, when the couple was onstage, "... we were in our own little heaven."

Like many country songs, though, the George Jones and Tammy Wynette story ends tragically. In truth, it was really never as happy as it might have seemed from the outside. Jones drank heavily, and all throughout their time together their marriage was tumultuous — separating, reconciling, and then, eventually getting a divorce in 1975. According to People, Jones was upset about the dissolution of the marriage and so he let Wynette "have everything." One bright spot to the story, though is that after the divorce, Wynette and Jones continued working together on occasion, and the couple got along better apart than they ever did while married, according to Jones.

Linked through music

Even if Tammy Wynette and George Jones couldn't make it work in their personal life, they had enough of a connection to let the best of their feelings shine through music. Music was how they bonded at the beginning of their relationship, and it likely kept them together as long as it did. After all, as Outsider says, Tammy "... grew up listening to [George's] music." When they performed together, "You could almost feel the love ... when they sang." They collaborated so well, professionally, that they even alternated who got top billing at a particular venue while on the road, depending on where they played and who would attract more of a crowd. 

Some of Wynette and Jones' most emotional tracks are basically confessionals about their love for each other, at least in the earlier days of their relationship. Within their first two years of marriage, they released the self-referential album "We Go Together," a record that captured the in-love phase of their lives like lightning in a bottle. Aside from the album's self-titled track, highlights include the duet "The Ceremony," which is practically a word-for-word transcription version of Wynette and Jones' marriage vows. Lines include, "Yes I'll take this woman / She'll be mine forever / And I'll love her, with all of my heart / To have and to hold / My love won't grow cold / I promise, till death do us part." 

Happiness beyond their final days

Even though Tammy Wynette and George Jones had their fair share of marital problems, it wasn't exactly easy for them to separate. "With George gone, I felt utterly lost and lonely," Biography quotes Wynette. She dated Burt Reynolds, married real estate executive Michael Tomlin for a brief time, and then got married for the fifth time in 1978 to songwriter George Richey. Before this, the final days of her and Jones' marriage were particularly brutal. Jones not only dove deeper into his drinking habit, but acquired a cocaine habit as well, and wound up missing so many shows that he earned the nickname "No Show." At that point, without their musical bond, there was little left to hold Wynette and Jones together.

And yet, the two got along afterward "... better than we ever did when we were married," Jones said, continuing, "I think we still love each other. I know I love her." The once-married power couple of country continued to not only tour together after divorcing, but release new songs like "Southern California" and "Two Story House." In 1980 Wynette said, "Everyone needs more than one chance."

Wynette died unexpectedly in 1998 at the age of 55 from a "blood clot in her lungs," as Country Living reports. Jones lived on, and died from respiratory failure in 2013 at the age of 81, per Taste of Country. But, the two singers and their former love live on in their music.