Tammy Wynette Once Said She Filed For Divorce From George Jones to Stop His Excessive Drinking

It was a union that made them country music royalty, but marriage to Tammy Wynette didn’t stop George Jones from drinking. And the habit had a significant impact on the happiness of his third wife, eventually leading her to file for a divorce to try and make him get sober.

How did Wynette’s plan work out in the end? And when did Jones supposedly stop drinking for good? Read on to learn more.

Tammy Wynette and George Jones, pictured embracing during a performance, had a hard time because of his drinking
Tammy Wynette and George Jones | Beth Gwinn/Getty Images

George Jones was known for his wild drinking habits

Jones had a relationship with alcohol that was almost as famous as him, as noted in songs like “If Drinking Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will).”

And stories of his drunken antics survive to this day. For instance, he once drove a lawnmower to a liquor store, which inspired a piece of modern art in Nashville.

Unfortunately, there was a dangerous aspect to his habit. Wynette claimed he once drunkenly chased her around their home with a loaded rifle, though he denied it. Texas Monthly reported that Jones was put in a straightjacket and placed in a padded cell to detoxify during one violent binge after the birth of his only daughter with Wynette.

Even Reba McEntire had a tale to share in her autobiography, Reba: My Story. Her love for Jones is evident in her storytelling, but his behavior almost ruined a performance. She said he was inebriated and refused to go on stage at his time until someone found a “girlfriend” for him.

Tammy Wynette filed for divorce from George Jones twice because of his drinking

“Mr. and Mrs. Country Music” married in 1969, and Wynette first filed for divorce in 1973. But they reconciled, and she claimed the move had been an attempt to control his drinking, concocted by Jones’ doctor.

Divorce was not particularly popular with some of their fans, and it would make the third for each of them. So, they released “We’re Gonna Hold On” while they continued recording solo records and duets. And they tried to make things work in their marriage.

But Wynette told PEOPLE in 1975 that it was all over between them after Jones missed a recording session. Following a confrontation with his exasperated wife, he spent almost $30,000 on a stretch limo and ran off to Florida.

“This is it,” Wynette insisted, though some of their friends told PEOPLE the couple could still get back together then. However, she was romantically linked to Burt Reynolds around that time.

George Jones stopped drinking for good in 1999, a year after Tammy Wynette died

Jones credited his widow, Nancy, as being a guiding light to sobriety. “She has been a very big help in saving my life and career and just about everything,” he told Texas Monthly in 1994. An accident in 1999 supposedly kept him on the wagon for good.

Unfortunately, Wynette didn’t live to see that. She married twice after their divorce, settling with her fifth husband in 1978. They remained together until she died in 1998. Meanwhile, Jones married Nancy in 1983, and she became his widow upon his death in 2013.

How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.

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