Martina McBride Shares the Secret to Her 33-Year Marriage: 'Find Someone You Like, Not Just Love'

"I'm glad we like each other, because when you're at your empty nest at the end of the day, it's important to have somebody who you can just be silent with," the country star says of her husband John

After 33 years of marriage, Martina McBride and her husband John are still head over boots in love.

As to the secret to their lasting relationship, the country singer, 55, reveals in this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, that "it really helps if you find someone you like, not just love."

"John and I really like hanging out and experiencing new things together," McBride says. "We try to go out once a week, even if it's just to go grab a beer or a cup of coffee or go for a walk."

"We did that a lot when the kids were little, but now that two of them have moved out of the house and the other one is driving, we spend a lot of time together," she adds. "I'm glad we like each other, because when you're at your empty nest at the end of the day, it's important to have somebody who you can just be silent with."

McBride first met her husband back in early 1987, after a friend told her that he owned a sound company and had a rehearsal room for her band to practice in.

"Even though the room wasn't ready, we met at a bar and hit it off right away," she says. "He's larger than life — still is."

By May of 1987, McBride and John were engaged. They then set their wedding date one year ahead. "It was just a feeling I had that he was 'the one,'" says McBride.

martina mcbride wedding
Martina McBride and her husband John. Courtesy Martina McBride

In 1990, the couple decided to move from their hometown in Kansas to Nashville so that McBride could further her singing career. After the move, John got a job as Garth Brooks' production manager on tour.

"At the time, I was waiting tables and singing demos, so I asked if I could get a job on the tour to travel with my husband," says McBride. "I ended up selling merch for Garth. My husband told him at some point that I was a singer trying to get a record deal, and I'm sure he thought, 'Yeah, like every other girl in Nashville.'"

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Once McBride landed a record deal, though, Brooks, 59, asked her to join him on his tour as her opening act.

"I don't even think my first single was out yet!" she says. "I really hadn't performed on a big stage like that, but I knew that it was a great opportunity, and I needed to take it. To this day Garth is one person in this industry who I can always count on."

From there, McBride's career continued to soar to new heights. Since the 1992 release of her debut album, The Time Has Come, McBride has been nominated for 14 Grammys and has won CMA Female Vocalist of the Year four times.

This year she was honored by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum with her own exhibit and in August released Greatest Hits: The RCA Years, a career retrospective that includes No. 1 singles like "Wild Angels," "I Love You" and "This One's for the Girls."

martina mcbride family
Martina McBride, her husband John and their daughters. Courtesy Martina McBride

Still, McBride — who kicks off her Joy of Christmas tour on Nov. 26 — says she's most proud of her life at home in Nashville with John and their three daughters, Delaney, 26, Emma, 23, and Ava, 16.

"Since the start of my career, I only wanted two things: respect and longevity," she says. "So to still be doing this this many years later, and to have a good marriage and well-adjusted kids, is success to me."

For all the details on Martina McBride, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.

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