Lauren Akins Tells All About Her Romance With Thomas Rhett: Read Every Revelation From Her New Memoir

The wife of country music star Thomas Rhett got real about what their life is truly like in her memoir, Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life's Changes

By Tierney Bricker Aug 18, 2020 1:00 PMTags
Watch: Thomas Rhett & Wife Lauren Speak Against Racism for Their Daughter

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It's a country love story, baby, just say yes to clearing your schedule to read Lauren Akins' memoir, Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life's Changes.

OK, Akins isn't Taylor Swift. But the wife of country superstar Thomas Rhett is finally stepping into the spotlight with the release of her new book, which fills in the blank spaces and invites to get to really get to know the couple we all can't get enough of on Instagram. (We know, we know, not a Thomas Rhett lyric. Let us live!)

Married since 2012 and parents to Willa Gray, 4, Ada James, 2, and tiny Lennon Love, who arrived in February 2020, Rhett and Akins' love story really is the kind that country songs are made of, including surprising lows to go along with the social media-worthy highs.

And Akins, 30, doesn't shy away from detailing their ups and downs in Live in Love, writing about how the couple met (spoiler alert: it involves recess!), their big breakup, saving themselves for marriage, going through an intense adoption process and so much more. 

Stars' Juiciest Tell-Alls

Plus, the "Die a Happy Man" singer also weighs in from time to time, writing from his perspective about key moments in the couple's journey, making for an irresistible and inspiring read. 

Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life's Changes

Warning: You're going to fall for them even harder.

Read on for the biggest—and sweetest—revelations from the book...

The First Meeting

While Rhett and Akins initially crossed paths when he moved and started attending her school in first grade, she admits she didn't really notice her husband until third grade, when "he played the lead in the school Christmas play, A Christmas Carol," she revealed. "Thomas Rhett played Scrooge, and he was great. He really nailed the 'bah humbug' part."

But really, Akins had no idea that little Ebenezer would go on to become the love of her life, writing that their connection for years was only due to their mothers' friendship. 

"The only reason I even bring up those early years is to make the point that you never really know who you're not paying attention to, right now," Akins wrote. "You can just never know who might end up being really important to you later in life."

The First Crush

Despite their grade school introduction, Rhett wasn't actually Akins' first crush. No, that honor belongs to a boy named Tyler who attended the same camp as the couple in the summer heading into sixth grade. By that point, Akins and Rhett had become good buddies, but the future singer was secretly smitten, asking her to the big banquet at the end of the summer.

"Oh, I'm waiting on someone else to ask me," she responded. (Oh, that Tyler!) And for Rhett, it was a pivotal moment in his childhood, the musician admitting, "It was probably the most degrading moment in my whole life."

In her defense, Akins did feel bad about turning down Rhett, writing, "I thought we were just friends."

The First Kiss

By ninth grade, the pair had become best friends, so trying to make the transition from BFFs to BF and GF was, of course, an awkward one.

After a lot of build-up, Rhett finally tried to kiss Akins while they were on a trampoline. But as he leaned in, the surface sunk down and "we slammed our teeth into each other," she wrote. "It was bad."

A few weeks later, they finally had their real first kiss, which was "weird" initially, Akins admitted. Buuuuut, "It turned out that he was a pretty good kisser. Suddenly it all felt really right."

The First Drink

While dating, the couple went on a mission trip with their families to Mexico. Akins had her first encounter with alcohol when she split a beer with Rhett, no one having stopped him from ordering one at dinner. 

"He would not only be responsible for giving me my first sip of beer, but my first chew, my first dip, and my first cigarette," she detailed. "Neither of us smoke now, but I swear Thomas Rhett could talk me into doing just about anything, good or bad—and honestly, it's still the same today."

For his part, Rhett confessed, "I got a little wild in high school."

The First Breakup

As teenagers tend to do, Rhett and Akins end up splitting while on a Spring Break trip to Key West with their friends. The Cliff notes: He was jealous of her male pals; she felt their relationship was too serious. 

"His jealousy and possessiveness kept showing itself again and again," she explained. "He wanted to be with me all the time."

However, unlike most high schoolers, they were able to remain good friends, even taking photos at dances with their respective dates together.

Father Knows Best

We can all thank Akins' father for the couple getting back together after her two-year relationship with boyfriend Michael ended. (And Rhett had also broken up with his girlfriend.) 

Knowing how Rhett felt about his daughter, Akins' dad told him, "If you don't tell her how you feel tonight, I'm gonna tell her myself."

While Akins was initially hesitant to get back together when Rhett professed his love, he finally said, "One kiss. Just one kiss, and if you don't feel anything, if you honestly don't feel anything, then we'll walk away and I'll never talk about it again."

You can guess what happened.

"That one moment, that one kiss on my parents' front porch, changed everything," Akins wrote.

Waiting Until Marriage

Until their 2012 wedding, Rhett and Akins were both virgins, having committed to saving themselves for marriage.

"I mean, don't get me wrong, it's not like we didn't kiss a ton or get a little too close a few times," she wrote. "We just always made a choice to stop short of breaking the promise we'd made."

Describing it as "some kind of miracle," Rhett explained, "This rule that was based so strongly in our faith? Even through college and the start of my career, that never got broken."

Even though both had gone on to date other people before getting back together—including a five-year on-and-off relationship for Rhett—Akins later realized, "We had saved ourselves for each other."

Luke Bryan's Blessing

While many people told them they were too young to get married, the "Marry Me" singer revealed the advice he received from Luke Bryan, who had become a good friend after Rhett opened for him on tour early in his career.

"Luke was like, 'Buddy, if you love her, then forget everybody else. You do what you want to do. You go marry her! You've gotta be true to yourself or nothing else matters.'"

The First Time

"I won't lie, we struggled at it for a minute," Rhett wrote of their wedding night. "It was just all brand-new, which meant there was a learning curve."

Admitting they were both "nervous," Akins said they honeymoon in Hawaii was "the perfect place to practice. A lot." And their ten-day trip was "more romantic than I'd even dreamed."

But adjusting to life back home was a bit of a struggle, especially as Rhett's career was slowly picking up and Akins was taking the final steps to becoming a registered nurse. The young couple was "so broke" they almost couldn't afford a Christmas tree for their condo.

And to help avoid any issues while he was touring, Rhett set ground rules early on: No women were allowed to come backstage, only girlfriends and wives were permitted on the the bus and he refused to have any ladies in his music videos aside from his very hesitant wife (who would go on to star in "Die a Happy Man," a video that would go viral). 

Thomas Rhett Almost Quit

By 2013, the country singer whose star was finally on the rise seriously considered giving up his career after Akins became exhausted by his touring schedule and their life on the road. And during an emotional conversation in church a parking lot, she finally admitted she felt like she couldn't handle it anymore.

"I was on the verge of calling my manager and telling her, 'I quit,'" Rhett recalled. "I was like, 'If every weekend off the road is gonna be sitting in this parking lot and having this conversation, it ain't worth it. I'll go do something different.'"

But Akins didn't allow him to give up his dream, finally realizing, "I felt like I didn't have a real purpose in life. Like I had become an accessory to Thomas Rhett's life. And I was pretty sure that wasn't who I was meant to be. And that hurt."

Their First Daughter

It was love at first sight for Akins when she saw the five-month-old baby girl who would eventually become their daughter.

On a volunteer trip to Uganda, Akins was hesitant to hold the orphaned child, who was called "Blessing" as no one at the facility knew her real name, knowing the experience would likely change everything for her. And it did, as Akins felt the desire to bring the young girl back to the United States to find a home. But she was totally surprised when she called her husband that night. 

 "With no hesitation, Thomas Rhett said, 'We'll do it. We'll bring her home.'" she wrote. "'What?' I said. 'Maybe she's meant to be our daughter,' he said."

Akins started the paperwork on that trip, and many months later, "Blessing" became Willa Gray, named after Rhett's grandfather, Willard, and Akins' brother, Grayson

Surprise Pregnancy

During their intense journey to bring Willa home from Uganda—made all that much longer because Ugandan adoption laws changed in the middle of the process—Akins came down with what she thought was a stomach bug during one trip. But, it turned out, she was pregnant, and she found out in the middle of a safari excursion.

"I wanted to tell our families so bad, but we decided to make it a big surprise," Akins wrote. "We wrapped a whole bunch of baby announcements and put them under the Christmas tree, so our whole family could open them all at once."

And three months to the day that Willa Gray's adoption was finally made official, Ada James was born. 

Parenthood Struggles

Adjusting to life as the parents of a 21-month-old and a newborn would be challenging for any couple, let alone one doing so in the public eye. And Akins admitted to struggling both with feeling uncomfortable in her postpartum body and Rhett's blossoming career. 

"It's so hard to explain, but I started feeling like I just missed him," she wrote. "I felt estranged from my husband. Even when he was in the same room with us."

A breaking point for Akins was watching Rhett perform during the Miss America pageant while she sat at home alone with baby throw-up on her shirt, realizing her dream for "the type of family life" she envisioned was just never going to come to fruition. 

"Everybody's out there looking at life through the pictures in People freaking magazine, and thinking we're this family fairy tale," she shared. "But nobody tells you about this part of the story."

Fights Over Gucci Shoes

Akins admitted to feeling like their family was just "Something Thomas Rhett did on the side" and his career was his top priority, while taking care of their children was her entire world. And that was made clear to her when Rhett received a pair of Gucci shoes in the mail and then a fancy tuxedo jacket the next day. Her package? Lysol wipes. 

The deliveries ultimately led to a heated exchange as they were getting ready for an event. As he expressed frustration that she was running late Akins told him, "I think I hate you."

Couples Counseling

After their fight, the couple called their marriage counselor and said they needed to "a very quick mini couples intensive" ASAP. Shortly after, Akins and Rhett spent two days working on their relationship with the help of two marriage counselors.

But when things didn't improve in their relationship, they decided to go to an intensive four-day couples counseling retreat called Onsite, with Akins telling Rhett, "We need this."

Through the shared exercises, the couple discovered how to really communicate with one another and to listen, with Rhett writing, "I learned to talk to her instead of channeling all my energy into work...and she learned to answer me rather than get mad at me."

And the biggest sign for Akins that things were getting better? Rhett came home from work early and had done the dishes, something he had never taken the time to do pre-Onsite.

"It wasn't just about doing dishes," she wrote. "It was about wanting to share my life with an equal partner—the man I loved—and not allowing some old-fashioned stereotypical view of how marriage is supposed to work get in the way of making our marriage actually work. For both of us."


Another Adoption Ahead?

In the afterword, Akins wrote about the couple's vision for their family in the future as they await their third daughter, Lennon Love (who was born after she had finished the book).

"We haven't ruled out adopting again, either," she revealed. "We're both in a place where we love our little family so much, we keep thinking, 'How much more love would we be able to give if our family was just a little bit bigger?' But that's a conversation for another time."

Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life's Changes is available now.