Given the busy careers of Keith Urban and his wife, Nicole Kidman, and the challenges of raising daughters Sunday, 5, and Faith, 2 ½, Urban admits in the Dec. 2013 issue of PEOPLE Country (on newsstands Wed., Nov. 13) that living in the moment is sometimes easier said than done. “Nic and I say, ‘Balance is never achieved; it’s just maintained,’” he says. “I’m a guy, so I’m not used to having to maintain anything. I’m used to achieving something, and good, that’s done, move on to the next thing. No, no, this marriage, this family, it’s a garden. It’s not fixed and then you move on; it’s maintained on a daily basis. I finally get that now.” Keith Urban reflects on some of the biggest blessings in his life and shares never-before-seen exclusive photos of him and his two daughters.

MY WIFE… “I really feel like I was just sort of lost until I found Nic. I would say she’s been life-changing for me, but she’s been more than that: She’s really been life-giving for me. I wasn’t able to give myself to anybody until I met her. It wasn’t like nobody tried; I just wasn’t awake until I met my wife.”

MUSIC… “It’s a language, a way of communicating through melody and rhythm and chords. I would have never had a way to communicate my wants or voice an expression of who I am without it… I can be exhausted or sick as a dog, or going through something in my life, but every single time I walk on stage and see the audience, it’s unbelievable. There’s always this euphoric energy.”

MY DAUGHTERS… “When I’m home, I just love waking them up in the morning and taking them up to bed at night. They always want to get piggybacked downstairs in the morning, but there’s two of them, so I have to piggyback them both, and they don’t want to do it separate… It keeps me in very good shape. It’s a beautiful thing, really.”

NASHVILLE… “I’ve lived here 21 years now, and my life has happened in this city more than anywhere else in this world. It inspires me to create and it’s been the nest of our family. We can just live a real life here, without being under the glare of scrutiny of other cities. That’s what we both crave.”

MY PARENTS… “I never made a decision to go into music. For me, playing guitar and singing was just like walking… I’m very grateful to have parents who supported that. When I turned 15, I quit school and was playing five nights a week in a band. I couldn’t drive until I was 17, so Mom and Dad had to drive me to all my gigs! They’d sit patiently and wait for the show to be over and then drive me home.”

TURNING MY LIFE AROUND… “I’ve been sober for seven years. It’s one of the greatest blessings in my life because of how destructive I was. My own personal sobriety has given me a life I never imagined in my wildest dreams… Life now is incredibly more calm and way more simple.”

Much more on Keith Urban, plus exclusive photos featuring his family, appear in the December 2013 issue of PEOPLE Country, which hit newsstands nationwide Friday, November 15th.

**Also in People's Country Special:*

PEOPLE Country talks to Country’s biggest stars about what they are most thankful for this year. Jake Owen says he is most thankful for his first year as a dad. “Every night my wife, Lacey, will hold Pearl, [who turns 1 on Nov. 22] offstage with her little earphones on, and she’ll watch my whole show and wave at me. Seeing them there just makes me feel so blessed.” As for Darius Rucker, the singer finds his greatest joy helping kids. “To see kids who can’t speak, or who can’t get their arms up, just light up when you sing a song… it’s the greatest gift,” says Rucker. “They just want to be happy, and playing for them gives me the greatest feeling I could ever ask for.” Brad Paisley tells PEOPLE Country a mission to help Haiti gives him new perspective on life. “It’s given me a perspective you can’t get in America because we’re so spoiled. You’re left with two feelings: What I did was nowhere near enough, and what if I did nothing? Any little thing you do is a start. It’s addictive.” As for Taylor Swift, she’s thankful for big shows and fans who sing along. “My big blessing for 2013 is the Red tour… The fans put so much effort into being there. Almost everyone dressed up or brought signs or memorized all the words to every song… I was so touched by that.”

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