Michael McDonald Says a 'Big Part' of His 41-Year Marriage 'Success' Is Wife Amy's Ability to Forgive Him (Exclusive)

McDonald married Amy in 1983 and they share two children together

<p>Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Keep Memory Alive</p> Amy Holland and Michael McDonald in Las Vegas in February 2023

Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Keep Memory Alive

Amy Holland and Michael McDonald in Las Vegas in February 2023

When Michael McDonald met his wife Amy Holland, a singer-songwriter from New York, in 1980, his life was forever changed.

In his memoir What a Fool Believes, out now, McDonald recounts meeting Holland in the studio in 1980 while producing her album On Your Every Word — and their love story that followed. They couple ended up marrying in 1983 and had two children together: Scarlett, now 33, and Dylan, now 36.

Their relationship wasn't perfect, however, and McDonald acknowledges that the success of their marriage is largely due to her patience.

"We are not perfect for sure. And a big part of the success of my marriage is my wife's forgiveness of my behavior over the years and my selfishness is what it comes down to and dealing with all the character defects that come from my own fear of life," McDonald, 72, tells PEOPLE in last week's issue.

Related: Michael McDonald Is 'Grateful' for Lessons Learned After Wife's Breast Cancer Diagnosis: 'She Put Us First' (Exclusive)

McDonald — who dealt with substance abuse before choosing sobriety 27 years ago — says that it's merely "by the grace of God and the people that I was lucky enough to meet along the way that I'm even still here today."

In 1966, McDonald and Holland were living in Nashville when they received painful news that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent an aggressive chemotherapy regimen and she's now cancer-free.

Looking back on that journey, McDonald says it was Holland that got him through.

<p>Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty</p> Michael McDonald and Amy Holland in Los Angeles in February 1983

Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty

Michael McDonald and Amy Holland in Los Angeles in February 1983

"I learned so much from her in that experience about love. And those are things that even at the rough times that we might've had later because we're married... I always had that to hang on to as far as who she was and how important is she really to me."

Though the experience was terrifying for McDonald to go through, he's grateful for it and believes it only made their love stronger.

Related: Michael McDonald Is 'Always Flattered' When Music Fans Are Surprised That He's White (Exclusive)

"I'm a firm believer in the worst things that happened to us inevitably without fail, turn out to be the best things that ever happened to us if we survive them," he says. "There are these silver linings in the worst things that happen that you can't get any other way, and sad to say, but it's part of life. It's kind of the way life works and maybe the way God intended it to work."

"We find ourselves through those moments. I remember at the bleakest part of that whole thing, realizing that my wife and I were discovering what it means to love somebody else in ways that we might have never discovered it any other way," he continues. "Although I wouldn't want to go through it again for any reason, I am grateful for those lessons."

<p>Dey Street Books</p> Michael McDonald's What a Fool Believes

Dey Street Books

Michael McDonald's What a Fool Believes

McDonald says these moments are what kept their marriage together and made him realize what he admired most about his wife: "She put us first, even at the darkest times in that struggle. That says a lot about her."

For more from McDonald, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere now.

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Read the original article on People.