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Still Married to His High School Sweetheart! How Jon Bon Jovi and Wife Dorothea ‘Make It Work’

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After three wild decades of fame, Jon Bon Jovi opens up about life on the road – and how he and wife Dorothea keep their love strong. Subscribe now for his untold story, only in PEOPLE!

Despite decades in the spotlight, Jon Bon Jovi has managed to remain quite humble. “I don’t know who that guy is,” he says when asked about the larger-than-life, leather wearing rock star he’s perceived to be.

Who he really is, the star tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story, is a devoted family man from small-town New Jersey. That’s all thanks to the rock in his life, high school sweetheart wife of 27 years, Dorothea Hurley Bongiovi.

“She’s the glue,” Bon Jovi, 54, says of his wife and mother of their four children. “I’m the crazy visionary with all kinds of things flying, and the seams are all splitting. She’s the one following me with the glue and the thread and needle, keeping it all together.”

Jim Wright; Inset: KMazur/WireImage
Jim Wright; Inset: KMazur/WireImage

That’s not to say that marriage has always been easy. The couple first met at Sayreville War Memorial High School in their New Jersey hometown. In 1989, at the height of success with Bon Jovi, they eloped to Las Vegas and were married at the hands of an Elvis impersonator.

For more on how Jon Bon Jovi and his high school sweetheart wife Dorothea balance fame and family, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday. Watch the full episode featuring Jon Bon Jovi at home, available now on the new People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the PEN app on Apple TV, Roku Players, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, iOS and Android devices.

Jim Wright
Jim Wright

Bon Jovi has said in the past that he’s no saint and, like all marriages, his has had its share of bumps. But throughout it all, Dorothea, 54, who’s known for her smarts and strong will, says, “We make it work.” As for how she feels about her husband’s hoards of female fans, “I think it’s great they love the music,” she says. “They love the band and are so loyal.”

Her husband is now gearing up to set out on yet another tour for his band’s 14th studio album, This House Is Not For Sale — out Nov. 4. “I usually stand on the side and watch,” Dorothea says of Bon Jovi’s time onstage. “The songs all sound great, but then you hear them live!”

Another thing that bonds the pair is a shared love of helping others. They launched the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation together in 2006, which has built 500 affordable housing units. They’ve also opened two Soul Kitchen restaurants, which brings together paying customers and those in need of a hot meal. “We have been so blessed and so lucky,” says Dorothea, who dreamt up the unique Soul Kitchen concept. “To see people not be able to feed their families, it’s just not acceptable.”

When it comes to their philanthropy ventures, Bon Jovi jokes, “My wife does all the work and I get all the credit.” But in reality, they’re incredibly in sync.

“Somehow it works,” Dorothea says of how they’ve successfully balanced love, family and fame all these years. “I think because we grow at the same rate. We grew equally and not in opposite directions.”

Adds Bon Jovi, “Somehow I became the poster boy for a long married rock star. But I’ll accept the mantle because I’m so happy.”