The complicated history of how Shania Twain swapped husbands with best friend after ex cheated on her

29 June 2021, 15:18

Shania Twain with her ex-husband Mutt Lange (left) and second husband Frédéric Thiébaud (right)
Shania Twain with her ex-husband Mutt Lange (left) and second husband Frédéric Thiébaud (right). Picture: Shutterstock/Getty

By Tom Eames

Out of all the celebrity love stories, Shania Twain has one of the most fascinating of all time.

Legendary country singer Shania Twain has a romance story that can only be described as epic and rocky, but she found her one in the end.

"I am actually grateful for what I've gone through and wouldn't change a thing," Shania wrote in her autobiography From This Moment On.

"Although I admit I wouldn't want to live it over again, either. Once was enough."

But what was the full story behind Shania's two marriages? Here's a full timeline:

Meeting her first husband

Shania met record producer Robert John 'Mutt' Lange, after he heard her songs from her debut albumin the early 1990s.

Lange offered to produce and write songs for her next album, and they met in June 1993. Quickly becoming an item, they married in December that year.

Shania Twain And husband Mutt Lange in 2000
Shania Twain And husband Mutt Lange in 2000. Picture: Getty

In 2001, they had a son together, Eja (pronounced like 'Asia').

Meeting her future second husband through her assistant and best friend

Shania and Lange, and their young son travelled to Switzerland in the 1990s, and she hired Marie-Anne Thiébaud as her assistant to help take care of their home and undertake daily tasks for the family.

At this time, Marie-Anne was married to Frédéric Thiébaud, a Swiss executive for Nestlé, and the two families quickly became close.

"Fred and Mutt were good friends, and Marie-Anne and I were good friends," Shania later told Oprah Winfrey.

Shania's husband asks for a divorce

IAccording to People, Lange suddenly told Shania that he wanted a divorce in the summer of 2008, but didn't give her a full reason for the end of their 14-year marriage.

Shania went to her best friend and assistant Marie-Anne for advice. "I said, 'Marie-Anne, don't you think my husband is acting strange?'" Twain told Oprah. "And she said, 'No, I don't see anything strange.'" 

It turns out that Marie-Anne was not telling the truth. She was reportedly having an affair with Lange.

Although Lange denied it, telling People that the breakup was "literally just a growing apart," Shania herself later confirmed the infidelity.

Shania discovered the affair from her fellow jilted lover

It was Frédéric Thiébaud himself who was the one who first discovered the affair between Mutt Lange and his wife Marie-Ann Thiébaud.

According to the Daily Mail, he found strange hotel receipts, phone bills, and even a lingerie set in his wife's suitcase: "I did discover the affair with my wife and Mutt," Thiébaud told Oprah.

"I said, 'Guys, now you have to tell [Shania]. This is ridiculous. You just owe her that.'"

Read more: Shania Twain's best songs ever

Shania explained that when she first heard about the news, she was shocked: "I called [Marie-Anne] up," she said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

"I wanted to give her the opportunity to tell me herself without me accusing her."

However, Marie-Anne apparently lied again, denying the affair and then changing her phone number so Shania couldn't contact her again.

Turning down Frédéric Thiébaud at first

Left heartbroken, Shania demanded an explanation from Marie-Anne, saying: "I was ready to die."

She sent her former friend an email, saying: "If you could see me crying and suffering, maybe you would have pity. Find love somewhere else from someone else that isn't hurting two families so much."

Shania and Frederic in 2020
Shania and Frederic in 2020. Picture: Getty

She was soon diagnosed with dysphonia, a condition where the voice box is squeezed too tight by muscles. This was worsened by the stress of situation and left her unable to sing.

"I didn't want to love again — it was the last thing on my mind," she told People.

Thankfully, her close bond with Frédéric Thiébaud grew, but she didn't want it to act on it at first. "I rejected it initially," she said. "But I couldn't control Fred's love for me and how easy he is to love."

Falling in love with Frédéric

Shania turned to Frédéric for comfort and support. After all, they had both been through the exact same thing.

"We slowly became very, very good friends. We had many months of just trying to make sense of everything," Shania told Ellen DeGeneres.

"Holding each other up was a very difficult time emotionally for both of us. And we really found something very beautiful in the end and unexpected."

Shania Twain with husband Frederic in 2011
Shania Twain with husband Frederic in 2011. Picture: Getty

However, their relationship didn't start straight away, but Shania was impressed with the way that Thiébaud handled the scandal.

"I got to observe Fred going through the same thing I was, and I admired how he handled it," she told Redbook. "That is where I fell in love with him, because he was so exemplary in every way."

Marriage in Puerto Rico

Shania Twain and Frédéric Thiébaud began officially dating in 2009, and got engaged in December 2010.

Just one month later — on New Year's Day 2011 — they were married in a small sunset ceremony in Rincon, Puerto Rico.

"My closest friends and family say they haven't seen me this free-spirited and happy in years," Shania told People. "And it's true. It's definitely true."

Read more: Has Brad Pitt finally impressed Shania Twain after 1998 hit 'That Don’t Impress Me Much'?

She said at the time: "Frédéric Nicolas Thiébaud has been a true gift to me as a compassionate, understanding friend. An amazing love has blossomed from this precious friendship."

They now live together in Switzerland

Shania and Frédéric settled in his native Switzerland, where they first met.

According to L'Illustré, the couple own a home in La Tour-de-Peilz, with views of mountains and a lake. They also have a black horse named Hermès. 

In 2017, Shania recorded a song titled 'Life's About to Get Good', inspired by her happiness following the pain of the end of her first marriage.