Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins said their “I dos” in 2012, but their love story started much earlier than that.
In her new book, “Live in Love,” Akins writes openly about those early days and about their early decision to save sex until marriage — long before they knew they would eventually marry each other.
The couple met back in the ‘90s, as first graders attending the same elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee. But it took five more years and five more grades before a trip to summer camp led Rhett and Akins to become close.
And by the time they hit high school, love was in the air.
At least for a while. When Akins and the would-be country crooner went off to college, they went their separate ways and each became serious about other people.
But in time, their old bond brought them back together and they found themselves considering matrimony.
“See, for as long as we’d been dating other people, even through all the growing up and experimenting we’d done as we both went off to college, we’d both stayed true to our values,” Akins wrote. “We were both virgins. We’d taken our parents’ words and our youth leaders’ words to heart, and there was something so special about knowing we were starting from the same place as we thought about getting married.”
The 30-year-old explained that both she and Rhett were “so grateful” that their previous partners shared their views, which helped them both stay on track before they rekindled their old flame.
“If either of us had dated people who didn’t have the same values, who knows what might have happened?” she wondered. “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. We just always made a choice to stop short of breaking the promise we’d made: to save ourselves for marriage.”
And as they readied themselves to walk down the aisle, they suddenly knew what they’d actually saved themselves for — each other.
“Was it perfect?” Akins wrote of their wedding night. “I don’t know how to answer that! We couldn’t compare it to anything else, and we didn’t have to — because our first time together was just ours.”
But as the mother of three told us during a Tuesday morning visit to TODAY, when it comes to their union, she doesn’t really concern herself with perfection anyway, and she hopes she communicates that to her readers.
“We are really happy, and we do love being married, and we do love our kids, but I think that we struggle just like every couple does,” she said. “Every day is not easy and our kids are not perfect, our marriage is not perfect, and I don’t have a perfect view of myself. So I just think being vulnerable and honest is just something that our world really needs right now.”