Jon Bon Jovi on 40-Year Love Story with Wife Dorothea: "I Was Immediately Drawn to Her"
The rocker and his high school sweetheart on keeping their marriage strong, quarantining with all 4 of their kids and starting a food bank to help others.
Jon Bon Jovi and wife Dorothea Bongiovi give love a good name.
In this week's cover story, the rock star and his high school sweetheart — who still finish each other's sentences — opened up to PEOPLE exclusively about their 40-year bond, keeping their 31-year marriage strong and raising their four children.
″Mutual respect,″ says Jon, whose new Bon Jovi album, 2020, drops Friday, Oct. 2. ″Having grown up together and grown together. And we really like each other. We want to hang out.″
Adds Dorothea: ″I always said I was good at spotting potential too. I have a gift."
Watch the full episode of People Cover Story: Jon Bon Jovi and Wife Dorothea streaming now on PeopleTV.com, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device.
She certainly did back in 1980, when the pair met as teenagers at Sayreville War Memorial High School in New Jersey.
″She let me cheat off her in history!″ Jon recalls of his first impression of his future wife. ″I was immediately drawn to her from the minute I saw her — and that’s never changed — 40 years ago.″
″He's cute. I'm shallow. I'll admit it!" Dorothea jokes.
All these years later, the pair, both 58, are even closer because of their not-so rock-and-roll marriage and close-knit family life with their four kids, daughter Stephanie, 27, and sons Jesse, 25, Jacob, 18, and Romeo, 16.
J Scott Applewhite/AP/Shutterstock Jon Bon Jovi and Dorothea Bongiovi in 1990
Jeff Kravitz/Filmmagic Jon Bon Jovi & wife Dorothea Bongiovi in 1995
Despite the hit singles, world tours and countless adoring fans, Jon remained grounded, thanks to his solid bond with Dorothea, whom he says is, ″without a doubt,″ his rock.
″We work hard at it, but we enjoy each other and we never fell for the trappings of what celebrity can do,″ says the ″Livin' on a Prayer″ rocker. ″We've witnessed that happen over the years to people that were close to us and people that we knew from afar. It’s just what I do, it's not who I am. I write songs. I happen to be very good at performing them. That's it."
The new Bon Jovi album — which includes, ″Story of Love,″ a track inspired by Jon and Dorothea's family — was delayed five months because of the pandemic. With the album on hold and a tour canceled, the pair focused on their Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, which aims to end hunger and homelessness. In a matter of weeks, the frontman went from rubbing elbows with Prince Harry to using plenty of elbow grease as he washed dishes at one of their pay-what-you-can Soul Kitchen restaurants and heaving pallets of donations at the Soul Kitchen Food Bank, which they opened in Long Island over the summer.
″If we could put a roof over someone's head or put food in their belly [then] it's quite simple: We don't need a scientist to find the cure," Jon says.
Jake Chessum Jon Bon Jovi & Dorothea Bongiovi
″It's a partnership,″ Dorothea adds of their work with the Soul Foundation, which they launched in 2006. ″When we see injustice or people suffering, you want to help. We're very blessed, and we have the ability to do that.″
Now Jon is slowly shifting his focus back to rockstar life, with face masks on and Dorothea by his side.
″I'm happiest,” he says, ″if I like what I do for a living, I'm doing right by my family and I'm making the world just a little bit better."
For more on Jon Bon Jovi & wife Dorothea, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.