In July, Netflix released Shania Twain: Not Just a Girl, a documentary following the life of one of Canada’s finest musical exports. In it, Shania speaks candidly about her abusive upbringing, the sexism she experienced in the country-music industry, living with Lyme disease, and also her divorce. Which is a great opportunity to revisit the absolutely bonkers saga that is Shania Twain’s divorce. Have you heard about it? Basically, it involves Shania and her best friend swapping husbands. If you’re confused, same. Here’s everything Shania has said about the situation (which, thankfully, has a happy ending).
Who are the main players, and why is one of them named Mutt?
In 1993, Shania Twain met a famous South African rock producer named Robert John Lange, more commonly known as Mutt, who’s worked with all walks of rock and pop stars, including Celine Dion, Britney Spears, and Lady Gaga. (Sorry, but I don’t know what inspired his nickname.) Anyway, six months after they met, Mutt and Shania got married, and they went on to work together on two of her best-known albums: The Woman in Me (1995) and Come On Over (1997).
Sometime in the ’90s, Shania and Mutt met Marie-Anne Thébaud, a woman they hired to manage their Switzerland chateau. Marie-Anne eventually took on some personal-assistant duties and became a close friend of Shania’s — the singer later described her as her “confidante.” Shania and Mutt spent a lot of time with Marie-Anne and her husband, Frédéric Thébaud.
Where did it all go wrong?
In 2008, Shania and Mutt separated after 14 years of marriage. Shania would later recall that she didn’t know why her husband had left her until the following day, when Frédéric (who, remember, was Marie-Anne’s husband at the time) broke the news that Mutt and Marie-Anne were having an affair. Shania recalled this discussion during a 2011 interview with Ellen DeGeneres: “Of course I didn’t believe him and I thought for sure he was making it up. It was obviously just denial on my part. But he just said, ‘You know I have proof if you want it. I’ve been following it now for a few weeks and I’ve got hotel bills and all kinds of details.’”
This is where things start to get dark. According to Shania, she confronted Marie-Anne about the affair, who pretended not to know what she was talking about and subsequently changed her number!! The gall. In Shania’s 2011 memoir, she included some emails Marie-Anne sent her while on secret trysts with Mutt. One of them read, “I am actually at the spa now … I really enjoy it!” Sickening.
Shania also revealed in a 2011 Oprah interview that she had previously confided in Marie-Anne when she suspected her husband was cheating on her, only to be told that she was being delusional. “All Marie-Anne did through the whole thing was comfort me, telling me everything was fine,” Shania said. “I believed her and I accepted it as being genuine.”
In her new Netflix documentary, Twain likened her divorce to the car crash that killed her parents when she was 22. “It was like a death,” she said. “It was a permanent end to so many facets of my life. It took a long time to be ready to write and record again.” On top of being betrayed by her husband and long-time collaborator, Shania was also struggling with Lyme disease, which she was diagnosed with in 2003. Suffering from short blackouts and dizziness while onstage, she retreated from the public eye. To make matters worse, the illness also caused dysphonia, a vocal-cord disorder that causes the voice box’s muscles to involuntarily spasm. “My voice was never the same again,” she said in the documentary. “In that search to determine what was causing this lack of control with my voice, my husband leaves me for another woman. Now I’m at a whole other low. I don’t see any point in going on with a music career.”
So what happened with Mutt and Marie-Anne?
While neither of them publicly acknowledged having an affair, Mutt and Marie-Anne started officially dating after the separation and, as far as we know, are still together. She and Shania have not reconciled, and Shania has not held back in sharing her feelings toward this woman. In 2015, she told the Post she never sees Marie-Anne. “I don’t invite that trigger into my life,” she said. “She’s not my future — she’s my past.” That same year, Andy Cohen asked her what she’d say to Marie-Anne if she ever saw her, to which she replied, “I wish I’d never met you.” Can’t say I blame her.
The last update on the situation came in 2018, when a reporter asked Shania if she speaks to her ex, with whom she shares a 21-year-old son. “Sure,” she said. “I mean, we don’t hang out with each other.” At the time, she said she lived half a mile from Mutt and Marie-Anne but has never crossed paths with her. “She’s the last person on the planet I want to run into,” she said.
You mentioned a happy ending?
Thank God. After her separation, Shania found love again with … Marie-Anne’s ex husband, Frédéric! Starting in 2009, Shania and Frédéric, who obviously had also been cheated on, started spending quite a bit of time together.
From their account, it sounds like they grew close while grieving their respective marriages. “After we were both thrown off the same cliff together, we sort of grabbed each other midair and it broke the fall,” Shania later told Oprah. In August 2009, she and Frédéric were photographed wearing rings while on a sexy little Canadian vacation with their kids. (Both Shania and Frédéric share children with their exes.) Shania’s rep told the press they were not married or engaged, but Frédéric also appeared in a little travel vlog Shania made that year, in which they were riding camels together in Egypt and biking together in London. Who among us hasn’t bonded with a friend’s ex-husband on the back of a camel?
Shania and Mutt finalized their divorce in 2010, and on New Year’s Day 2011 she and Frédéric got married in Puerto Rico. Hurrah! In her 2011 memoir, Shania called him a “romance god.” They are still together and appear to be very much in love.
Apropos of nothing, I wonder what Marie-Anne and Mutt were up to while Shania performed at Coachella with Harry Styles?