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Country couples share their recipes for a happy marriage -- with Vince and Amy leading the way

Story by Chris Neal

Getting married is easy -- a certificate, a minister or judge, and two people ready to say "I do" is all you need. Staying married is hard.

Every single day, couples the world over face down the pressures and problems of keeping the bonds of matrimony tied tightly, and country stars are no different. But for all the complications, Vince Gill and Amy Grant agree that the most important ingredient for a successful marriage is simply to be friends.

"Vince and I are great friends, and anybody who's ever known us has been able to see that," Amy has declared. "It's fabulous being married to your friend."

"I think that as we got older, we both came to the conclusion that what really matters is companionship that really is moving and is touching and is inside of you," agreed Vince. "I don't plan on living the second half of my life like I lived the first half -- and I'm inspired by loving my friend."

In the first half of their lives, Vince and Amy were both married to other people -- but both those unions ended in divorce. The couple now carries the lessons they learned into their marriage, begun in an elegant ceremony March 10, 2000.

Before welcoming the birth of their daughter, Corrina, now a year old, Vince and Amy first had to deal with integrating the children from their previous marriages. Vince already had a daughter, Jenny, now 20, from his marriage to Janis Gill, and Amy had three children -- Matt, now 14, 12-year-old Millie and Sarah, 9 -- with former husband Gary Chapman. Vince dealt with this new equation by opening his heart to his stepchildren.

"I coached their softball teams and helped with some school functions," he explains. "I'm trying to be a plus in their lives right now. They have a great father, and this is not an attempt to replace him or be a substitute for him. What's important is to let them embrace me in their own time and their own way."

While many American couples deal with such issues, Vince and Amy also face new complications in their musical careers -- for instance, now that they're a team in life, should they be one on record?

"I don't think there's any big rush to say, 'Okay, now let's be Steve and Eydie or Sonny and Cher,' " Vince chuckles. "We're just enjoying being friends and husband and wife, and sharing in all these kids. The careers will do what they're going to do."

And so far, this couple's celebrated marriage is doing fine, thanks.

Just ask Amy.

"When people say 'How is it?' you want to hold up the scorecard: '10,' " she declares. "It's great!"

Find out how your other favorite stars reflect on their relationships in the current Newsstand Issue!