Marty Stuart and Grand Ole Opry star Connie Smith have a rather unorthodox love story, but it's one with a very happy ending.

Stuart is 17 years Smith's junior, and he was just 12 years old when he first met her. His mom introduced them -- she took Stuart to see Smith live in concert in Mississippi -- but it was unbeknownst to her what would happen in the next few decades.

"She was my mother's favorite singer. We had a record of her at our house called Miss Smith Goes to Nashville. It had a beautiful photograph of her on the cover," Stuart tells The Boot. "I thought she was the prettiest girl in the world, so I had my mama take me to buy me a yellow shirt, so Connie would notice me that night.

"After the concert, me and my sister got our picture made with her, and I got her autograph. On the way home, I told my mama that I was going to marry her," he adds. "It took 25 years to figure it out, but it worked!"

The couple married in 1997, after dating three years, and they've learned a lot about love and marriage in their almost two decades as husband and wife.

"Make the Lord the center … and commit,” says Smith.

“Oh, I agree with that 100 percent,” Stuart adds. “You have to get up every day and go to work on it. When we get upside down every now and then, we always say: ‘You want to go again?!'

“Turn the TV off,” Stuart continues. “Turn the gadgets off, and the conversation comes back.”

And another very simple bit of advice: “Leave the star s--t at the gate!”

Stuart also says his wife has taught him some important lessons: "With Connie, I have learned about balancing love and music. She puts a whole lot more emphasis on family life than I ever did, and she's been a great sense of balance to me."

This story was originally written by Deborah Evans-Price, and revised by Christina Vinson.

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