Why These Country Music Stars Couldn't Stay Married

This article references addiction, suicide, and domestic abuse.

There is nothing quite like a country artist using their own experiences to make great songs. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are iconically one of the most successful couples to come out of the country music scene since tying the knot in 1996, and the two have worked together to create enduring hits like "It's Your Love" and "I Need You." Their marriage is a remarkable one, with McGraw once telling People, "It's such a rare thing to be able to experience what we do for a living, and to do it together, really feels like all the moments are special." Hill added, "I watch him perform and still to this day I'm awed by it."  

McGraw and Hill may not be singing the divorce blues, but that can't be said for the handful of famous country stars below who have had their fair share of heartbreaks. These musicians have struck out when it comes to love — not necessarily just once. When it comes to marriage, many of these artists have admitted to not being able to stay faithful or have put their careers before their marriages. Some stars have eventually found the one, but it took a few trips down the aisle to get there. Here's why these country music stars couldn't stay married.

Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers gave fans beloved hits like "Islands In The Stream," "The Gambler," and "Lady." As successful as he was in the genres of country, soft rock, and pop, the same couldn't be said about most of his marriages. Rogers was married five times, and his fifth wife, Wanda Miller turned out to be his "soulmate" until he died in March 2020. 

According to Wide Open Country, Rogers met Miller, who is 28 years his junior, at a restaurant where she worked. The pair dated for five years before tying the knot in 1997. Speaking to Reuters in 2012, he said of his wife, "She is my soulmate. She knows me better than anyone else has known me." Before he finally settled down with Miller, Rogers was previously married to Janice Gordon, Jean Rogers, Margo Anderson, and Marianne Gordon. 

So, what happened to his first four marriages? If you were to ask Rogers, he might've told you his art played a role in the dissolution of those relationships. "Music, at least for me, is like a mistress," he told Reuters. "Every woman I married, I really loved when I married her. And I don't blame them for the marriage falling apart. I blame myself and my chosen field of music."

Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard had decades of country hits before he died on his 79th birthday from pneumonia. He stayed true to his outlaw image, going to San Quentin for a stint before his career took off, per People. He used that experience to make some of his best hits, but that tough guy persona also left him with four divorces.

He first married Leona Hobbs when they were both very young, and as Rolling Stone noted, their relationship was "tumultuous and often violent." The couple had four children together, with one being born while Haggard was in jail. Their marriage didn't last and two years after their divorce, Haggard married singer Bonnie Owens. Haggard and Owens would end in divorce, too, but she still worked for her ex-husband as his backup singer. In 1978, Haggard married his third wife, Leona Williams, with People reporting that he said their relationship was "either peaches or cream, or it's dill pickles." Williams also had to get used to the fact that his ex-wife was around, with Haggard sharing, "It's really a workable situation if both them ladies could just understand it thoroughly."

It didn't work out between Haggard and Williams, and in 1985, he married a waitress named Debbie Parret. However, as he told Rolling Stone, it ended after he was "partyin' pretty hard," grieving the deaths of his mother and his friend, and having "bad love affairs." In 1993, Haggard married fifth wife Theresa Ann Lane. The couple had two children and were together until his death. 

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Travis Tritt

After two marriages that didn't work out, country singer Travis Tritt didn't believe he was the type of guy to settle down. He once shared with Country Weekly (via The Boot), "Living up to my image was never tough. Because that's who I was. I was a rowdy, outlaw, hell-bent-for-leather guy. I'd made up my mind — I was a bachelor for life!"

According to Wide Open Country, Tritt was previously married to his high school sweetheart, Karen Ryon, for two years in the early '80s, and later exchanged vows with Jodi Barnett. After that marriage also culminated in divorce, Tritt told Country Weekly that he and friend slash fellow country singer Marty Stuart believed they were both "better off staying single." However, that all changed in the late '90s when Tritt met Theresa Nelson at a party along with Stuart, per The Boot. They hit it off instantly, with Tritt recalling to The Chicago Tribune in 1996, "We were apart for about two weeks after having been together practically every day for three months, and I missed her more than I thought I was going to – and much more than I wanted to let myself miss her."

The couple tied the knot in 1997 and have three children. On Instagram, fans can see photos of Tritt on tour and performing in concert, but now and then, fans can catch a glimpse of his beautiful family (and his bachelor lifestyle far off in the rearview).

Kris Kristofferson

"Me and Bobby McGee" hitmaker Kris Kristofferson was, as People put it, "well-known for his hard partying" and "his errant ways helped destroy two marriages." 

The country singer wed his high school sweetheart, Fran Beer, in 1960, per Wide Open Country. They eventually called it quits and Kristofferson went on to marry singer Rita Coolidge in 1973 — and their relationship had high highs and low lows. As Coolidge said to Michael Cavacini in 2019, "Our marriage was volatile." Kristofferson struggled with alcohol use, telling People that he got sober after watching his death in the 1976 film "A Star Is Born." Reflecting on the flick, which was directed by Barbra Streisand, he said, "I remember feeling that that could very easily be my wife and kids crying over me. I quit drinking after that. I didn't want to die before my daughter grew up." His second marriage didn't pan out, and he and Coolidge parted ways in 1979.

However, love was on the horizon for Kristofferson after meeting Lisa Meyers in 1982. He said in People, "At the time, I was gun-shy about any relationship heavier than a one-night stand. The road had been my escape, going out and pouring it all into performing." The two eventually wed the very next year and welcomed five children together.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Jana Kramer

Jana Kramer announced she and Mike Caussin were heading to splitsville in a 2021 Instagram post. The country singer said she "fought," "loved hard," and had "forgiven," adding that she also had "nothing else to give" when describing their six-year marriage. 

Kramer had reconciled with her husband back in 2016 when he was involved in a cheating scandal and sought help for sex addiction. The couple had also released a self-help book in 2020 for couples who were dealing with infidelity and trust titled "The Good Fight: Wanting to Leave, Choosing to Stay, and the Powerful Practice for Loving Faithfully," per People. However, Kramer made it clear on Instagram in December 2021 that her marriage to the football player was done once and for all, sharing that she received "the official call that I was divorced."

Her marriage to Caussin was Kramer's third. She told People that relationship with her first husband, Michael Gambino, was abusive, and he nearly killed her in 2005 when "he choked her into unconsciousness." He served six years in prison for attempted murder and later died by suicide after he was released. Kramer got married a second time to actor Jonathan Schaech in July 2010, but called it quits the very next month, per E!. Since her divorce from Caussin, Kramer released a new song titled "Voices," which she had shared on Instagram had helped her in her healing process. 

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Conway Twitty

Conway Twitty, whose real name is Harold Lloyd Jenkins, got into rock 'n' roll in the 1950s before transitioning into country music for good. Following his true passions led him to have numerous hits in the country music genre, including "Hello Darlin'" and "Tight Fittin' Jeans." Behind the scenes, Twitty experienced some personal drama: Over the course of his life, he had four weddings to three different women.

According to Wide Open Country, Twitty's first marriage to Ellen Matthews only lasted a year, but they did have a kid while they were still together. After they divorced in 1954, the singer walked down the aisle with Temple Medley and the couple welcomed three children. Evidently, their relationship had its ups and downs: In 1970, they both got a divorce only to remarry each other months later. They divorced a second and final time after fourteen years because, as Wide Open Country put it, "Twitty's tour schedule all over the United States became too much." 

It looks like third time was the charm for Twitty, as he married his assistant, Dolores Virginia Henry, in 1987 and the two were together 'til the end. As The New York Times reported at the time, Twitty died in 1993 at the age of 59 of "a ruptured blood vessel in his stomach."

Trace Adkins

Before he and actor Victoria Pratt exchanged vows in 2019, Trace Adkins was married three times. According to Country Thang Daily, Adkins' first marriage was to a woman from his hometown named Barbara Lewis. Before the split, the couple welcomed two kids. He then wed Julie Curtis, who pulled a gun on her then-husband in the middle of a heated argument about his drinking. At some point, the revolver went off and the bullet struck Adkins. As he recounted to People, "[The bullet] went through both my lungs and both ventricles of my heart." He ultimately opted to not press charges, but the two did end up getting a divorce. In 1997, he married his third wife, publicist Rhonda Forlaw, and the two had three children. Shortly after they got married, he told People he'd stopped drinking. In 2014, Daily Mail reported Forlaw filed "following cheating rumours and a drunken brawl that sent Trace to rehab earlier in that same year."

Five years later, Adkins gave marriage another try. The singer's fan page on Instagram shows the two smiling on their wedding day with Blake Shelton as their officiant. In a 2021 interview with People, Adkins said of Pratt, "I can't even begin to explain what a difference she's made in my life. She rejuvenated me and inspired me to take whatever time I have left and make the most of it ... and then just make the best music that I can make."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

George Jones

George Jones' struggles with addiction impacted his first three marriages. Jones' first wife, Dorothy Bonvillion, filed for divorce after about a year, calling him "a man of violent temper" who was "addicted to the drinking of alcoholic beverages," per Texas Monthly. He would get married a second time in 1954 to Shirley Ann Corley, and as the outlet noted, his career then really started to take off during that relationship. By 1968, that relationship was done. As Texas Monthly put it, "His marriage was coming apart, and as his wife saw it, whiskey had caused the breach." He then wed singer Tammy Wynette, and the two worked together on a number of songs. However, they would not last. As "Stand By Your Man" co-author Joan Dew told Texas Monthly, Wynette not only hit her limit with his substance use, but apparently got "really got bored with him." Their marriage was officially over in 1975.

In the 1980s, he connected with Nancy Sepulvado, who would go on to become his fourth wife. After a number of ups and downs with his recovery, Jones found sobriety in 1999, per The Seattle Times. "They say love can change the world," Jones said in autobiography "I Lived to Tell It All" (via The Boot). "Friends, family, doctors, therapists, and ministers had tried to save me, but to no avail. But finally, the power of love from one woman, Nancy Jones, made the difference." He and Sepulvado were together until he died in 2013.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson is recognized around the world as one of the greats of the genre, and his career is undeniable. The country music legend's personal life, meanwhile, has had its less-than-sterling moments. 

Nelson took his first trip down the aisle with Martha Matthews, and the two would go on to have three children before ending things, per Parade. As the outlet put it, their relationship was "contentious," and the two "quarreled, brawled, drank heavily" when they were together. Nelson then married singer Shirley Collie in 1963, but things went south there, too. In his memoir "Me and Sister Bonnie: True Tales of the Family Band" (via People), the country legend reflects on how his second wife learned about his infidelities from a hospital bill that showed he fathered a child with someone named "Connie Nelson." His marriage to Collie was over in 1971, and that same year, Nelson and producer Connie Koepke wed and went on to welcome a second child. However, he would go on to fall for his current wife, makeup artist Annie Marie D'Angelo, in 1986. 

"I messed up another marriage," writes the country singer. "My wandering ways were too much for any woman to put up with ... I regret the pain I caused Connie — Martha, and Shirley before her — and have no excuses." In 1991, Nelson married D'Angelo. They share two children, and they're still together all these years later. However, when Piers Morgan asked in 2012 if D'Angelo was "the real love of [his] life," Nelson joked, "Well, for the moment she is."

Blake Shelton

Fans were in total shock when Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert's marriage ended in 2015. The country couple seemed like the perfect pair, but following the split, rumors spread like wildfire. There was speculation that they'd cheated on one another; TMZ reported Lambert couldn't take the long-distance as Shelton was away in Los Angeles for "The Voice" while she lived in their home in Oklahoma.

Before he tied the knot with Lambert, Shelton married his girlfriend from high school named Kaynette Williams in 2003, per Country Fancast. However, after performing with Lambert for the first time in 2005, Shelton felt a connection with the songstress, eventually sharing on VH1's "Behind the Music" (via Taste of Country), "I was falling in love with her, right there on stage." According to Country Fancast, Williams filed for divorce from Shelton citing "inappropriate marital conduct." They were done by 2006.

Shelton and Lambert started dating straight away and exchanged vows in May 2011. But whispers of infidelity soon rocked the couple, while E! reported their hectic schedules and trust issues hurt their marriage. After they called it, Shelton told Billboard, he and "The Voice" co-star Gwen Stefani ended up connecting. Shelton and the No Doubt frontwoman, who was going through the dissolution of her own marriage, eventually became more than friends. Stefani and Shelton married in July 2021, while Lambert married former NYPD officer Brendan McLoughlin in 2019. 

Trisha Yearwood

Before Trisha Yearwood made country star Garth Brooks her husband in 2005, the "She's In Love With The Boy" songstress was in two relatively short-lived marriages. 

According to Page Six, before Yearwood made it big in country music, she was hitched to producer Christopher Latham from 1986 to 1991. Not much is known about their divorce, but the star once shared (via OK!), "My career has always been more important than my personal life. Failed personal relationships were part of the price I paid for stardom." Yearwood didn't give up on love, marrying Mavericks bassist Robert Reynolds in 1994. However, as the AP reported at the time, the two ended things in 1999, citing "irreconcilable differences." The following year, Yearwood opened up a little about her divorce from Reynolds to Country Weekly (via The Country Daily). "It's a serious decision involving someone you're tied to emotionally, so it's hard to move on," she said. "Then, after the marriage is over, you question yourself. You wonder if something's wrong with you — which is pretty much where I've been. But I know I'm a good person."

When Brooks and Yearwood met in 1987, they were both spoken for at the time — and more than a decade would go by before they got together. As Wide Open Country recounted, Brooks' lengthy marriage to songwriter Sandy Mahl officially ended in 2001. As of this writing, Yearwood and Brooks are still going strong with the former becoming a stepmom to the three kids the latter shares with his ex-wife. 

LeAnn Rimes

LeAnn Rimes' marriage to Eddie Cibrian began with a scandal that rocked Hollywood, the Bravoverse, and the country music world.

Before the singer and Cibrian tied the knot in 2011, both stars were married to other people. Rimes was hitched to Dean Sheremet, who was one of her dancers at the Academy of Country Music Awards, while Cibrian was linked to "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Brandi Glanville. Rimes and Cibrian met on the set of the film "Northern Lights" in 2008, and evidently, sparks flew on that set. In 2010, Rimes admitted that she had an affair with Cibrian, telling People, "I take responsibility for everything I've done. I hate that people got hurt. But I don't regret the outcome." Cibrian filed for divorce from Glanville and Rimes took to her website (via E!) to share that she and Sheremet were "dissolving [their] marriage."

Not long after the affair was revealed, Rimes and Cibrian were engaged on Christmas Eve in 2010 and 2011, tied the knot in Los Angeles, per People. The star couple has been together ever since. "You grow as a couple," Cibrian said to ET in 2021. "Every day you find something else that you love about each other. It's wonderful."

Reba McEntire

Reba McEntire was married to professional steer wrestler Charlie Battles for over a decade. Before she became a country star with a hit sitcom and clothing line, McEntire lived on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma with Battles. As she recalled on CNN's "People In the News," "We rodeoed together, we ranched together." However, as her career in country music began to skyrocket, her personal life apparently took a hit. McEntire said, "I guess I chose my career over my marriage." She told People that she was "lambasted" by fans after she ended things with Battles in 1987. "I told them it was my business and they'd have to trust me," she shared.

McEntire then went on to wed Narvel Blackstock in 1989. She and Blackstock, who happened to be her manager, were married for a whopping 26 years — and it sure sounds like it was far from McEntire's call. "The divorce was not my idea," the musician explained on CMT Radio Live. "I didn't want it in any shape, form, or fashion. So it was really hard to make the adjustment. I just want everybody to be happy in their lives because our lives are too short to be miserable, so I just thought it was the best thing to take my marbles, go play somewhere else."

Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves took the music world by storm when she released her debut album "Same Trailer Different Park," earning Best Country Album at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. She would have an even bigger night when she took home four awards, including Best Country Album and Album of the Year for "Golden Hour," at the 2019 Grammys. 

During her acceptance speech, Musgraves thanked then-husband Ruston Kelly, whom she married in 2017, stating, "I really believe I wouldn't have this album if I hadn't met you and you didn't open my heart like you did, so thank you so much." The couple announced their divorce just a little over a year later with a joint statement that read (via AP), "We've made this painful decision together — a healthy decision that comes after a very long period of trying the best we can. It simply just didn't work." 

In a 2021 interview with Elle, Musgraves said that had it not been for the coronavirus pandemic, she "could have coasted for another couple of years" in her marriage. She added, "I felt, in so many ways, on top of the world in my career, but in my personal life, I felt like I was dying inside. I was crumbling. I was sad. I felt lonely. I felt broken." As of this writing, Musgraves is dating Cole Schafer who has shared numerous adorable photos on Instagram with the songstress.