Bret Harman

Chip and Joanna Gaines just celebrated 16 years of marriage, but before the Fixer Upper stars met back in 2001, Chip, 44, was in no rush to settle down.

“I really wasn’t that guy,” he says in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday. “I dated girls whose goal in life was to get married and have kids. They had it all planned out, but I was too selfish. It was about me and what I wanted to do, and I didn’t have anything tying me down.”

RELATED: Chip and Joanna Gaines Celebrate 16 Years of Marriage: ‘Feels Like We’re Just Getting Started’

But after he met Joanna while she was working at her father’s Firestone automotive shop in Waco, things changed.  “It felt like there was this real transition. I matured and grew up,” he says. “It just kind of clicked in my brain: ‘This is going to work.’”

Still after they married in 2003, Chip says there was still an adjustment period.

WATCH: Awwww, Joanna Gaines Just Wrote the Sweetest Love Note to Hubby Chip

“I had to make a lot of changes,” he says. ”I had to be a better person. But when I thought about the idea of being an 80-year-old man sitting on a rocking chair with my beautiful wife, and for she and I to have made it [that far], I got really excited.”

PERRY HAGOPIAN

Fore more on Chip Gaines pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE on newsstands, Friday. 

@brethartman

RELATED: Chip Gaines Opens Up About Being 20 Lb. ‘Overweight’ and Suffering Injury Before First Marathon

And made it they have. Between their five kids, Drake, 14, Ella, 12, Duke, 10, Emmie, 9, and Crew, 11 months, forthcoming TV network and their booming Magnolia business, life couldn’t get any sweeter. Still Chip says it’s Joanna that gets all the credit.

“I tell my kids this a lot. She’s the one that makes this whole thing go around.”

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