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Lauren Akins' life may not be a fairy tale, but it certainly makes for a good story.
Fans have gotten to know and adore Lauren as the beloved wife of country music superstar Thomas Rhett and mom to three adorable daughters, Willa Gray, 4, Ada James, 3, and Lennon Love, 6 months. While they always look picture perfect on red carpets and post the cutest family photos on social media, things weren't always so idyllic for them behind the scenes.
In her new memoir, LIVE IN LOVE: Growing Together Through Life's Changes, out Aug. 18, Lauren goes into detail about meeting her high school sweetheart for the first time and their journey to finding love. For Lauren, it was a therapeutic and exhausting process writing the book as she wanted to make sure people understood that her marriage, while awfully sweet, was not flawless.
"It's so easy to look at our family and our marriage from the outside looking in and just see what looks to be a perfect, happy family, but it's just not realistic," she told E! News in an exclusive interview. So she wanted to "share the struggles getting there or the struggles we still have now, and just to be real and open with people so that they don't look at us and be like, ‘Oh they have it all together, they're so perfect,' because that couldn't be further from the truth."
And maybe people will think twice about filling her Instagram feed with #couplegoals. "I don't think it's wrong to want to be better in certain areas but I do think it's funny when people hashtag us in those ways," she said. "I think there are moments of us that are really great and really healthy but there are also moments in our lives that are not pretty, they're not easy and not fun and not something people want to see posted all over Instagram."
Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life's Changes by Lauren Akins
In this refreshing and inspiring memoir, Lauren Akins, the wife of country music star Thomas Rhett, shows what it's really like to be "the perfect couple" fans imagine, and reveals what it actually takes to live in love, stay in love, and grow together.
For Lauren, having her relationship on a pedestal can take a toll on her. "I do feel the pressure when people pin us as that couple because it's just not true," she revealed. "We don't have a perfect marriage. I love our marriage and I love being married to him. We have a really really sweet life together, but we fight just like every other couple does. We have struggles just like every other couple does...It's almost freeing for me to be able to share that side of things so people can see that having a healthy relationship is extremely attainable, it's just not going to look just like everybody else's."
Back when her love was becoming a fast rising star, Lauren began to feel more isolated and struggled to find her own identity. She went into detail in her book about an unhappy time when she felt like an accessory to his life and had to put her dreams on hold.
"It took me a second to admit that I was unhappy because the prideful part of me wanted to believe that I had it together, that I could do it," she recalled to E!. "I think it just got to a point where my heart was so heavy that I knew I had to say something and change something or else I would spiral to a really really dark place and I was kind of already on my way there."
It was important for Lauren to figure out what would make her happy and still be a supportive wife to an international country star. "When I really started to pursue my passions was when we clicked even more as a couple…We were both more whole and happy and able to be better together," she explained. "Just seeing that change has just really made both of us realize how important it is for us to still be our independent selves and to make sure to take care of ourselves."
One of Lauren's passions—going on mission trips to Africa—ultimately led to her fulfilling one of her greatest achievements: Becoming a mom. In her book, she described meeting Willa Gray for the first time during a 2017 trip to Uganda and feeling an instant connection. When she told her husband about her experience and how a little girl needed to find a home, he said she was meant to be their daughter.
And she was. While they eventually were able to bring her home, it was a long, difficult process. "My hope is that people can see that struggle in us," Lauren said of choosing to recount that, at times, heartbreaking journey. " We had those fears and doubts and there were times I didn't think it was going to come through, I didn't think we could get her home at times. It was really scary and dark but my goal is to show people that we didn't have all the answers when we started her adoption. We had more fears and doubts than hopeful dreams."
Within months of adopting Willa Gray, Lauren gave birth to second daughter Ada James and Lennon Love followed along in February 2020, making them a family of five. "The biggest projects we have together right now are our three little girls. They are full blown projects, I assure you!" she shared with a laugh. "But it's fun. That's what we're in the middle of right now and that kind of takes precedent over all of our other projects, but we have a lot of fun doing it."
These days, the Rhett-Akins family have been enjoying being all together at home, which is rare for them. After all, her husband is usually on the road, traveling from one city to the next on tour. "All I have ever wanted was for us five to be able to be together for longer than a week and a half and I've gotten that this year," Lauren said. "it was really cool that it happened right after we had Lennon because it was like we were a new family of five and we've got this newborn at home and having him here has been so amazing."
Lauren definitely has her hands full with her family, an upcoming virtual book tour, and a new bag collection with ABLE with proceeds going to help the Love One, an organization that provides medical care for children in Uganda. But her favorite role is being a mother. "It is the best thing in the world being a mom. I love it so much," she raved. "I would not change it for the world. I feel like I was given the coolest job in the world to raise these three little girls because they make my life so much more fun. There is never a dull moment."
Particularly with her oldest two so close in age. "Willa Gray and Ada James are the sweetest little girls together," she added. "Since day one of Ada James being born, she has been Willa Gray's sidekick through everything."
And there might be more kids in the future: Lauren hopes to have more biological children and possibly adopt. "I don't know what that number is, I don't know what that timeline is but I would like to say in the next five years or so, we would come close to knowing what our family is going to look like," she shared. "I don't believe I'm done having kids."