Alan Jackson and his wife, Denise, have the longest marriage in country music and their shared experiences speak for themselves.
The couple first met in their hometown of Newnan, Georgia, and began dating in high school. Three years later, the “Good Time” singer married Denise in 1979, and although Alan wasn’t fully committed to pursuing a career in music at the time, he encouraged her to see where her singing talent could take her.
Throughout their almost fifty-year marriage, Alan and Denise welcomed three daughters together and released successful projects, including her hit albums and her inspirational books. During the happy times, the couple also endured a brief separation and health problems, but their union is now stronger than ever.
At the 2022 CMA Awards, he presented his Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award to Denise.
“I’m probably not an easy person to love, but he was there and helped me through difficult times,” he said. “And we’ve shared good times. The good, the bad, the fun, and the sad, we’ve survived a lot.”
The singer went on to say, “I just want to thank him because he’s held me all these years and he’s my best friend. And he’s given me an amazing family.”
So, who is Alan Jackson’s wife? Here’s everything you need to know about Denise Jackson and her relationship with the country music legend.
She started dating Alan in high school
Alan and Denise first crossed paths while attending Newnan High School in their hometown of Newnan, Georgia. The Christian Broadcasting Network reported that he was going out for ice cream a week later when they met in 1976. The two started dating when he was 18 and she was 16, according to. Today.
Throughout high school, Denise was a top student and athlete, playing tennis and cheerleading. At the time, she was singing in a barbershop, as her sisters participated in a 2018 documentary. Alan Jackson: Small Southern Town.
Alan reflected on their shared roots during Newnan’s post-hurricane benefit concert in 2021. “I’m from Newnan … my wife Denise is from Newnan,” he said while on stage. “We were both born and raised here and all our childhood memories and adult memories come from this place.”
After graduation, Alan and Denise were married on Dec. 15, 1979, where he sang for her.
Prior to the release of his 2007 memoir, It’s All About Her: Finding the Love of My Life opened up to PEOPLE about what it was like to take the next step in their relationship.
“I was young when I got married and I had this almost Cinderella situation: ‘I’m going to marry him and he’s confident and talented and he’s going to take care of me forever and life will be one big fairy tale,’ ” she said. “But the truth is that our marriage is not perfect.”
He started his country music career
During their early years of marriage, Denise worked as a flight attendant while Alan handled odd jobs, including selling cars, building houses and waiting tables. At the same time, he continued his music career and joined the group Dixie Steel as the lead singer after one of the members saw him perform at a wedding.
In the early 1980s, Denise dumped Alan for country singer Glen Campbell while he was working at an airport. In Alan Jackson: Small Southern Townrevealed that Glen gave him the card of “the guy who ran his publishing company in Nashville” and advised Alan to start writing songs.
“We were still living in Newnan, so I was leaving the Atlanta airport, and I saw Glenn in the boarding area,” she said. “I’m not the type to talk to people, but I just thought, ‘This might be my last chance. I have to do it.’ “
Denise later added, “He said … ‘Just put together a demo tape and go see Marty (Gamblin) in my office and see if he can help him.’ And that was our first contact.”
Soon after, Alan recorded a demo, and offered her a songwriting contract with Campbell’s publishing company, Britannica. He and Denise moved to Nashville in 1985, where he tried to get a record deal, and it was a few years before Alan signed with Arista Records in 1989.
Alan and Denise are the parents of three daughters: Mattie Denise Jackson, Alexandra “Ali” Jane Jackson and Dani Grace Jackson.
The couple raised their children in Tennessee as Alan began his career in the music industry. The singer became a father for the first time when Denise gave birth to their daughter Mattie in 1990; followed by Ali in 1993 and Dani in 1997.
Today, Mattie hosts an inspirational podcast. In Joy Life and releases weekly episodes. He is also a published author, he writes Lemon Friday: Trusting God Through My Great Heartache in honor of her late husband, Ben Selecman, who died after an accident in 2018. The 2021 work included a prelude to Alan and Denise.
After Mattie remarried in 2023 to Connor Smith, she repaid her father by always supporting her and her sister.
“Among the endless things he does for us girls, my father has always made me believe that I can do anything, be anything,” he said of the wedding photos on Instagram with him. “I have never doubted that in my life and for that, I am forever grateful. I love you AJ 😘.”
Ali keeps a low profile, but her parents share glimpses of her life on social media. In accordance with Inside Marriages Mattie’s late husband Ben introduced Ali to her husband, Sam Bradshaw, who was her longtime friend. Ali and Sam married in 2021, and the following year, they made Alan and Denise grandparents with the birth of their son, Jackson Alvie Bradshaw.
They split briefly in 1997
After the birth of their youngest daughter, Alan told Denise he was unhappy, and the couple split after Christmas 1997. He explained to the Christian Broadcasting Network that it wasn’t entirely successful because they had ongoing conversations about feeling disconnected. in their relationship.
“I think Alan got to a point after 18 years where he thought, ‘We both deserve more than this, and we still can’t fix it, and I don’t think it can,'” Denise said. . “So it was a turning point when he said, ‘Enough. I’m leaving.’ ”
She revealed that the breakup was difficult and she ultimately chose to spend her time and energy on her spiritual journey. Four months later, Alan and Denise reconciled after he visited their children and asked her out.
On the mend, Denise learned about Alan’s infidelity, and worked to forgive him.
“There is no one-size-fits-all answer to forgiveness,” she said. But what I found later, is that forgiveness was the key to true freedom in my life.”
He wrote a book about their marriage
About thirty years into their marriage, Denise wrote It’s All About Her: Finding the Love of My Life in 2007, a memoir about her relationship with Alan, in which she opened up about their ups and downs.
Denise admitted to PEOPLE that Alan was “terrified” about the book at first, especially because he planned to write about his infidelity. However, in the end, he understood that this work was about rebuilding and forgiveness.
“He knew why I wanted to write this book and that it was important for me to admit that he was unfaithful because one of the main messages in this book is about forgiveness and how healing can come when we solve problems and unfaithfulness,” he said.
Speaking to The Boot the following year, Alan shared that he was the first to read his wife’s biography and did so in “four hours.” He recalled, “I was living that whole thing and I knew where the story was going and it still affected me. I was crying and it was really uplifting.”
The “Chattahoochee” singer also touched on his opinion that Denise shared the most intimate parts of their union.
“I thought some fans might be upset with all the truth,” he explained. “There was information there that messed me up a bit, (but) the whole story was worth the risk. I thought it would help a lot of people, give encouragement to people who have been through the same situation.”
Denise released her second book, Home Road, a year after he started, focusing more on his Christian faith. As she told this newspaper, it was written for women who have faced similar problems.
He is a cancer survivor
Denise was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2010. He told Dealing with it that she and Alan were celebrating their anniversary in Florida when she got the call.
He said: “When I found out it was squamous cell carcinoma, to say it was the shock of my life is an understatement.” “I eat healthy food. I exercise. I never dreamed that a doctor would tell me that I have cancer.”
Alan added that he also “didn’t believe,” but “like her husband,” he wanted to “reassure her and encourage her.” Their shared experiences inspired her to write the song “When I See You Go” about being a caregiver.
The “Little Bitty” singer explained, “It made me realize how important it is to have someone to walk you through something like this. It was the first time I felt like I was living up to the phrase in our wedding vows ‘through thick and thin.’ ”
Alan was by Denise’s side as she underwent radiation and chemotherapy for two months before being declared cancer free.
“I never thought I would call myself cancer,” he said. .”
She has supported Alan through his health problems
In 2021, Alan revealed that he has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), a degenerative neurological condition that affects the muscles in the arms and legs.
The legend of the world explained i Today the show that he was diagnosed 10 years earlier but had decided to share his life because, in recent years, it has become more prominent during performances.
“I have this neuropathy and nerve disease. It’s a gene I got from my father, there is no cure for this but it’s been bothering me for years and it’s getting worse.
Alan continued, “I know I stumble on stage. And now I have a little balance problem, even in front of the microphone, so I feel very uncomfortable.”
Speaking about how they managed together, Denise said, “When I’m down, you lift me up. If he’s down, I try to lift him up.”