SECOND TIME LUCKY

In October 1999 in a house in Dickson, Tenn., about 40 miles west of Nashville, aspiring singer Rachel Proctor and her husband Rob Byus decided their four-year marriage was over.

"I blame it on myself," Rachel says now. "I was into my music so deep, and I thought that being married was hindering that. I was 19 when we got married - I moved right out of my parents' house and into a marriage. I just went crazy."

They had come a long way together - after meeting on the West Virginia club circuit, they moved to Tennessee and married six months later. Soon Rachel was driving 80 miles a day in and out of Nashville pursuing her singing career, while Rob managed a Kmart in Dickson. "I was just doing my day job, and she was gung-ho, music, music, music," recalls Rob. "It was your basic lack of communication." So they divorced.

And then a funny thing happened - they fell in love all over again.

"While we were apart, we never stopped talking to each other," says Rachel, sitting next to Rob in a booth at Nashville's Palm restaurant. "There were moments when we were angry and we would fight, but whenever I would move, he would come and help me - little things like that. And eventually, we started saying, 'Well, why are we apart?' "

So they remarried in 2001, by which time the rest of their lives had fallen into place. Rachel signed a record deal, and Rob was by then playing bass for his old pal Blake Shelton, whom he now road manages as well.

The dual careers still put stress on their marriage, with both partners crisscrossing the country playing to different audiences. Rachel's first hit, "Days Like This," has crashed the Top 25, and she'll only get busier once her debut album comes out next spring.

Still, they intend to make it work this time.

"We spend a lot of time on the phone," chuckles Rob, who is now building a new house with his wife in Mt. Juliet, a little closer to Nashville than Dickson. "I just feel lucky and blessed that we were able to get back together."

Story by Chris Neal

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