Everything You Need To Know About Thomas Rhett And Lauren Akins

From the outside, country music star Thomas Rhett and his stunning wife Lauren Akins have always appeared every inch the perfect couple, but — by their own admission — they're sometimes anything but. These two childhood sweethearts came close to calling it quits after Rhett's career exploded with the release of his second studio album, 2015's Tangled Up. The singer-songwriter's touching ballad "Die a Happy Man," won two single of the year awards from both the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music. Billboard named the tune its top country song of 2016, and the track also earned a Grammy nom. The exposure wound up putting a strain on his marriage — just like what happened with his famous father.

Thomas Rhett Akins Jr. was named after his father, Rhett Akins, a country singer popular in the 1990s and best known for the hit "That Ain't My Truck." According to Biography, he was nine when he found out that his parents were divorcing, which, according to Thomas, was a result of his dad's hectic touring schedule. He swore to his mother that he wouldn't fall into the same life, but a career in music was calling. 

At age 20, he dropped out of Lipscomb University in Nashville and never looked back. Today, he's a star in his own right, but balancing fame with his marriage hasn't been easy. From their first meeting to their emergency marriage counseling, here's everything you need to know about Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins.

Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins met in the first grade

Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins' love story began in the first grade. The future lovebirds were in the same class at Goodpasture Christian School in Madison, Tennessee, but Akins didn't really notice her future hubby until the third grade when he gave a memorable turn in a school production. "He played the lead in the school Christmas play, A Christmas Carol," Akins revealed in her 2020 memoir Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life's Changes. "Thomas Rhett played Scrooge, and he was great." The pair started going to the same church camp in sixth grade, and that's when Rhett began to develop romantic feelings for Akins.

"She was just like the All-American, friendliest, nicest," he told The Tennessean in 2016. "She was tall, blond, beautiful, pretty much the total package for any dude from sixth grade all the way through high school. I'm pretty sure every guy had a crush on her." Unfortunately for Rhett, the feelings weren't mutual back then. According to Akins' memoir (via E!), there was a boy named Tyler at camp with them, and Akins only had eyes for him. When Rhett plucked up the courage to ask his dream girl to the end of summer banquet, it turned into "the most degrading moment" of his life. What did Akins say that cut her friend and future husband so deep, exactly? "Oh, I'm waiting on someone else to ask me." Ouch!

Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins' first kiss was a total disaster

According to Lauren Akins, she and Thomas Rhett had become good friends by the time they reached the ninth grade. The future singer-songwriter still hadn't gotten over her, however, and he was determined to get out of the friend zone. He decided to make his move when the two were messing around on a trampoline in his backyard one day, and it went terribly wrong. When Rhett leaned in to plant a kiss on his guest, the shift in weight led to a nasty collision. "We slammed our teeth into each other," Akins wrote in her 2020 tell-all Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life's Changes (via E!). "It was bad."

Rhett and Akins' actual first kiss took place a couple of weeks later. While she admitted that she was a little weirded out by the idea of locking lips with her longtime pal, to begin with, the awkwardness quickly faded. "It turned out that he was a pretty good kisser," Akins said. "Suddenly it all felt really right."

The pair began dating, and Rhett started to bring out Akins' wild side. "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 revealed. "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."

Lauren Akins dumped Thomas Rhett because he was getting too jealous

The first major bump in the road for Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins came during Spring Break one year. The pair enjoyed a trip to Key West with friends when Rhett apparently started to get a little uptight about Akins hanging out with other guys. "His jealousy and possessiveness kept showing itself again and again," she revealed in her book Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life's Changes (via E!). "He wanted to be with me all the time." This behavior would ultimately push Akins away from her future husband and straight into the open arms of another boy.

When he sat down for an interview with the Tennessean in 2016, Rhett revealed the exact moment he knew that things were over between them. "Mitch Barnes invited her to junior/senior banquet, and that was the turning point," the musician said. "I was crushed." At this point, Akins had decided that the two were better off remaining friends, and things would stay that way for some time. They both entered into committed relationships with other people. However, Rhett never really fell out of love with Akins — there's a famous photo of the "Crash and Burn" singer looking longingly at her as she poses for a snap with her date. He has a cheerleader by his side at the time, but that small side glance made it clear just who he was thinking about.

Lauren Akins' dad gave Thomas Rhett the pep talk he needed

Thomas Rhett came close to getting engaged to another woman during his time at Lipscomb — and wedding bells were ringing for Lauren Akins, too. Per Tennessean, she went off to study at The University of Texas at Austin and would become involved with a guy named Michael. The two dated for two years, but things came to an end before Akins' sister graduated in 2011. As Rhett had remained close to Akins' family, he got an invite to the graduation party. As it turned out, his relationship had also come to an end, and when he confided to Akins' dad that he still loved her, he gave him the push that Rhett needed, saying: "If you don't tell her how you feel tonight, I'm gonna tell her myself."

Opting to take the matter into his own hands rather than have the message come from Akins' father, Rhett took his ex out onto her family's porch. When he asked her how she felt about giving it another go, she wasn't exactly thrilled, but Rhett had a proposition for her. "One kiss," he said. "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." Needless to say, his kiss had the intended effect. "That one moment, that one kiss on my parents' front porch, changed everything," Akins said in her book (via E!).

Lauren Akins' parents were in on Thomas Rhett's romantic proposal

Just six months after they reunited on that front porch with a long-overdue kiss, Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins were engaged to be married. The singer-songwriter spilled the beans about how he managed to win Akins back when he spoke to Taste of Country in September 2012. "When I heard that she had ended her other relationship — this was last spring — I moved in for the kill," he explained. "We kissed, and that was it. We dated for probably six months, and we got engaged last December, around Christmas time." Festive engagements are always memorable, but Rhett made sure that his proposal was extra special, and he did that by bringing Akins' mom into play.

Rhett told the music mag that their families "all went to this one restaurant called Giovanni's," explaining that he and Akins "are big on drinking wine and signing the bottles with a silver Sharpie," then dating and saving the bottles. In keeping with their quirky tradition, Rhett escorted Akins to a private room in the restaurant, where there was a single bottle of wine waiting. "I pulled out a Sharpie and put 'Marry me' on the bottle. Her mom cued 'The Way You Look Tonight' by Frank Sinatra and we danced. It was pretty awesome." If that wasn't enough to bring a tear of joy to your eye, here are some snippets from their beautiful Nashville wedding for you to gush over.

Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins' first time was a struggle

Lauren Akins was open about the fact that she and Thomas Rhett were virgins when they tied the knot in her 2020 memoir. As practicing Christians, they had both made vows to save themselves for their wedding night, though resisting temptation wasn't always easy. "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," Akins said in Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life's Changes (via E!). "We just always made a choice to stop short of breaking the promise we'd made." Rhett was in a five-year on-and-off relationship after he and Akins split, so how on Earth did he manage to stay true to his word? It was "some kind of miracle," he explained. "This rule that was based so strongly in our faith? Even through college and the start of my career, that never got broken."

According to Akins, deep down, they both knew that they had "saved [themselves] for each other," but that didn't mean they were prepared come their honeymoon. She revealed that they were both pretty nervous, and things got off to a tricky start. "I won't lie, we struggled at it for a minute," Rhett said. "It was just all brand-new, which meant there was a learning curve." Luckily, they had ten days in Hawaii, which Akins described as "the perfect place to practice. A lot."

Thomas Rhett almost quit music for Lauren Akins

It wasn't long after their Hawaiian honeymoon that Thomas Rhett started to become a big star on the country music scene. For Lauren Akins, this was both a blessing and a curse. "I loved this man with everything in me, and his dreams were all coming true," she said in her illuminating tell-all (via Us Weekly). "But wouldn't you know it? Right there in the middle of all that excitement and celebration, a familiar question came bubbling up into my mind. A question I'd been struggling with for at least a couple years. I looked around at the glittering lights and I wondered, 'What about my dreams?'"

Akins was training to be a nurse at the time, and following her husband around the country on exhausting tours wasn't exactly helping with her studies. In her book (via E!), she revealed that it all came to a head one day in a church parking lot. She told her husband that she wasn't sure how much longer she could keep it up, and that put things into perspective for Rhett. "I was on the verge of calling my manager and telling her, 'I quit,'" he said of the incident. "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.'" Luckily for country music fans everywhere, Akins told him that wasn't an option.

Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins adopted a girl from Uganda

Lauren Akins eventually became a registered nurse as planned, and she's put her training to use in some of the most in-need parts of the world. In 2016, she set off for Uganda on a volunteer trip, unaware of the fact that she was on her way to meet her first daughter. Akins worked closely with orphaned children on her trip to the African country, and there was one child in need of a home who stole her heart. "I was so moved," she said during a 2020 video call to The Kelly Clarkson Show. "The second I touched her, it was electric. I was like, 'Oh my word, this little girl has just taken my heart.'"

When she spoke to Thomas Rhett later that night, she told him that she was determined to find the girl a "forever home" in the United States, but she didn't expect her husband to suggest making that home their own. "With no hesitation, Thomas Rhett said, 'We'll do it, we'll bring her home,'" Akins recalled in her book (via E!). It would take months to get the paperwork sorted, but the girl who had been going by the name "Blessing" (her actual given name was unknown to the staff at the center) would eventually arrive in America. Rhett and Akins (whose own mother was adopted) decided to call her Willa Gray, named for Rhett's grandfather, Willard, and also after Akins' brother, Grayson.

Lauren Akins fell pregnant during her adoption journey

Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins' adoption of Willa Gray took longer than expected because Uganda changed some laws while they were in the middle of the process. Akins went back and forth between the US and Africa on several occasions while they hammered out the details, and on one of those trips, she fell ill. "I was convinced it was food poisoning," she told People. "I was 100 percent sure I was not pregnant." She was pregnant, however — a fact that she discovered right in the middle of a safari ride, believe it or not. "I wanted to tell our families so bad, but we decided to make it a big surprise," she wrote in her memoir (via E!). "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."

Rhett and Akins didn't reveal that they were pregnant in public until February 2017, when the double mum-to-be broke the happy news in a sweet Instagram post. Underneath a picture of the beaming couple holding baby balloons, she wrote: "Our hearts are exploding with happiness for y'all to meet our new baby who we are bringing home from Africa soon who is also going to have a little brother or sister because, SURPRISE! There's a sweet baby in my belly, too!" Little Ada James joined the family exactly three months after Willa's adoption was finally approved.

Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins needed emergency wedding counseling

The couple welcomed the news that their first biological child was on the way, but for Lauren Akins, being pregnant while adopting wasn't a walk in the park. She was left in charge of the process while Thomas Rhett concentrated on his career, and they quickly began to drift apart. During a 2020 appearance on The Bobby Bones Show, the singer-songwriter admitted that he was "a bit jerky" to his wife at the time. "Lauren called me because it was 9 o'clock in the morning in Uganda and... she hears all of her friends in the background. Meanwhile, Lauren is seven months pregnant and throwing up in a bathroom in Uganda."

Akins told Rhett that they were "living two completely separate lives," but the chasm continued to widen. Per Akin's memoir (via E!), a fight broke out after the pair got twin deliveries (some Gucci shoes arrived for Rhett, while Akins got some disinfecting wipes), and she told her husband: "I think I hate you." The result? A quick call to their marriage counselor. They ended up spending two full days thrashing things out, and it worked.

"We still are staying in close contact with our counselor, Beth," Akins told People in August 2020. "There's a lot of pressure to portray that you have a perfect life, and family, and marriage, especially on social media and in the public eye."

Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins welcomed a third daughter in 2020

Lauren Akins' second pregnancy didn't go quite as smoothly as her first (The blonde momma told Country Living that she felt "so much more pregnant"), but she welcomed third daughter Lennon Love with no complications in February 2020. Her proud husband took to Instagram to share the happy news with over 4 million followers. "It was such a joy to watch this little angel be brought into the world," he captioned an adorable pic of the newborn. "My wife is just incredible through the entire birth. Watching our kids meet Lennon for the first time was probably the sweetest thing I've ever seen in my whole life! Ada James and Willa Gray are going to be the best big sisters on the planet."

Thomas Rhett went on to ask fans to pray for him and Akins as they "switch from man on man defense to zone," acknowledging the challenge that lies ahead. Three kids can be more than a handful, so they're going to stop there, right? Not necessarily. In her 2020 memoir Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life's Changes (via E!), Akins revealed that they "haven't ruled out adopting again" sometime in the future. "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."