What are the secrets to a successful long-term marriage? Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks and Faith Hill and Tim McGraw are just a few of the country couples who remind us that not every country song has a sad ending. In fact, they have managed to stay true to their vows for more than a decade. Through career changes, trips to rehab, being apart and working together, their love stories — as well as their tips for nurturing a relationship — are truly inspiring.
1. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban
Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman have been married since 2005, and despite a rocky start when Urban checked into rehab just months after they tied the knot, they are still one of Hollywood’s hottest power couples. Urban believes it’s the Aussie in both of them — basically the fact they share similar values — that keeps their relationship stable. “You get raised to just ‘pull your bloody head in’ and do your work and just don’t get caught up in all the other stuff and to stay grounded,” he said during an interview with Sunrise. Psychologist and relationship expert Antonia Hall, MA, agrees. “Sharing values is foundational to a successful relationship because it allows couples to stay aligned,” she explains.
2. Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks
After more than a decade of friendship and crumbled marriages to other people, country chart-toppers Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood married in 2005 and have been going country strong ever since. Maybe it’s because Brooks' adoration of his wife is pretty epic, and he doesn’t take her for granted. “I can’t believe this really exists. I can’t believe there’s somebody in this world that no matter how many times you get to be with them, all that does is make you want to be with them more,” he gushed about his “sappy” love for Yearwood to Rare Country. There’s nothing bad about loving your partner to pieces, in fact it's quite healthy. “Where there is adoration, there is intimacy, which fosters a happy, healthy relationship,” says Hall.
3. Kimberly Williams and Brad Paisley
Brad Paisley first spotted Kimberly Williams on the big screen, mesmerized with her performances in “Father of the Bride” and “Father of the Bride II.” Five years later he cast her in a music video, and the two quickly feel in love. Two children and 15 years later, he is still singing love songs about her. “We both have very healthy senses of humor. Anything I take myself too seriously on, she will gladly cut me down to size on and destroy all preconceived notions that I’m cool in any way,” Paisley told The Boot. Laughter does make the heart grow fonder, according to Hall. “Being able to laugh together is a wonderful way to stay happy together and keep challenges in check,” she maintains.
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4. Faith Hill and Tim McGraw
Faith Hill and Tim McGraw have been married more than 20 years, but it hasn’t always been easy. McGraw almost “lost everything” due to an addiction problem, but he quit drinking and doing drugs in 2008 to save his family. How has the couple made it through thick and thin? They insist it all has to do with love, tolerance and teamwork. “In the car, I drive,” McGraw told “Today.” “In the relationship, she drives. We make decisions about things in different ways, but we always talk about it before we do it.” Hall insists that joining forces with your significant other is a healthy relationship strategy. “Seeing your partnership as a team allows couples to move through challenges and share wins together.”
5. Darius Rucker and Beth Leonard
Darius Rucker, who got his start as lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish and transitioned into country later on, has been married to his wife, Beth Leonard, for nearly 20 years, and the two are still “madly in love.” “Marriage is not easy,” he told The Boot. “You have to decide to work. That’s what it really comes down to, two people deciding to stay together or not. I work hard to let my wife know how much I love her,” he added. “I try to do that every day. Romantic stuff is not something I really remember.” So, yeah, healthy relationships don't just come naturally — they take work. “Being realistic and prioritizing a relationship can help it last a lifetime,” Hall asserts.
6. Amy Grant and Vince Gill
Vince Gill and Amy Grant first met in 1993 but were married to other people. While they insist there were no infidelities involved, the duo maintain it was one of those love-at-first-sight situations. It was years before the two split up with their respective partners, but eventually they ended up together and married in 2000, welcoming a daughter the next year. In an interview with Good Housekeeping they outlined their marriage guidelines, which included knowing when not to talk, being ready to pinpoint a problem, getting off your soapbox and kicking up the kindness a notch. “A big reason why our relationship is so good is that it begins with respect and kindness. If you have those two things on the front burner, then the rest is kind of easy," Gill explained. “Respecting one another leads to great communication and a willingness to work through things together,” Hall tells us.
7. Shawna and Keifer Thompson
The couple that sings together stays together. Shawna and Keifer Thompson met at a singing competition in Nashville, coupling up before they decided to take their relationship professional. “We came in town to be artists, and we met really quickly, but we didn’t realize until a few years into our marriage that the best way for us to coexist was for us to be together all the time,” Keifer explained in an interview. “Being apart and doing our own things … we just weren’t happy. We were happy doing music, and the relationship wasn’t suffering, but it wasn’t as good without her.” Shawna agrees: “Keifer would be gone doing his own thing on the road, and I would be at home miserable and missing him. Now we’re getting to do what we both love to do together. It doesn’t get any better than that.” While some couples need their space, Hall explains that for others, “sharing a lot of time together ensures happiness in the partnership.”
8. Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook
Jimi Westbrook and Karen Fairchild’s love story is the opposite of Keifer and Shawna Thompson's: They went from bandmates to soul mates. Along with Phillip Sweet and Kimberly Schlapman, the two formed Little Big Town in 1998. Shortly after their debut album was released, Westbrook and Fairchild started dating and quietly wed in 2006. Four years later they welcomed a son. In an interview with UsMagazine.com, Fairchild gushed over married life. “Jimi is my soul mate,” she told them. “I knew there was a deep connection there, but once you decide to be together, you find even more, and then to have a child together is a beautiful, beautiful thing for us to share and a dream come true.” Some people might warn against finding love with a coworker, but Hall explains that sometimes “living the shared dream together is the stuff of soulmates.”
9. Lisa Hartman and Clint Black
Clint Black and former “Knots Landing” star Lisa Hartman were introduced in 1990 and fell in love immediately, tying the knot just 10 months and 20 days after meeting. Black gives his wife of more than 25 years major credit for inspiring his music — as well as for his career in general. “Lisa is a big reason I’ve learned to live in my skin,” Black gushed to Country Living. “She didn’t let fame slow her down. I would’ve become more reclusive, but she was having none of that.” The two started making sweet music together in 1999 with “When I Say I Do” and have been collaborating ever since. Your significant other should make you want to be a better person, according to Hall. “A loving partnership inspires people to be the best version of themselves."
What Do YOU Think?
Are you surprised that these country couples have stayed married for so long? Do you find any of their stories inspiring? Whose tips do you find the most helpful?