When Keith Urban entered rehab just four months after marrying Nicole Kidman, many wondered whether his substance abuse issues and their long separation would harm their nascent union.
But, in his first live television interview since leaving the Betty Ford clinic last month, the country star sought to put that speculation to rest. If anything, the experience has strengthened the couple's bond, Urban told TODAY's Matt Lauer.
"They say grief makes hearts and closer bonds than joy ever can," said the singer. "We've gotten through a lot and she's been extraordinary."
Urban said he and Kidman learned a lot about each other during the three months he spent in rehab, but he could not put it in words.
"I really can't quantify it. It's not a sound bite, what we've learned, but it's very profound," he said.
Urban stopped in the studio to chat with Lauer before joining a large crowd that braved temperatures in the mid-teens for hours on the Plaza to hear the 39-year-old Australian perform several cuts from his new chart-topping album, "Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Thing." Before his performance, he spent some time throwing hand-warmers into the crowd.
Referring to Urban's Jan. 18 release from the Palm Springs, Calif., substance abuse treatment center, Lauer joked that Urban really couldn't fill up on "anti-freeze" for the performance. Urban said he was "very grateful" to be back on the road to recovery, which he insisted was not triggered by any single event but his own sense that his life was becoming unmanageable.
"What was unmanageable?" Lauer asked.
"This disease of addiction. It was nothing to do with contentedness or happiness. I had all that," said Urban, who also spent 28 days in rehab in 1998. "I wasn't doing what I should be doing to maintain the road I was on previously. It was a big wakeup call to get back onto the road ... It just became time. I could see where it was going."
Urban and Kidman, also 39, tied the knot last June in a cliff-top chapel near their home in Sydney, Australia. He told Lauer he'll be joining her soon in L.A. where she is filming a movie.
-- John Springer, TODAY contributor