Interviews Lauren Akins's Journey to 'Live in Love' In her 'New York Times' best-selling memoir, Lauren Akins reveals the imperfect but inspiring story behind her marriage to country music star Thomas Rhett and her constant effort to balance her humanitarian efforts with love and family. By Katie O'Connor stop mute max volume 00:00 16:32 repeat Update Required To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Note: Text has been edited and may not match audio exactly.Katie O'Connor: Hi, listeners. I'm Audible Editor Katie O'Connor, and I'm so excited to be chatting with Lauren Akins, humanitarian and author of Live in Love, a memoir about faith, marriage, and how to grow stronger in both. Hi, Lauren.Lauren Akins: Hey.KO: How are you doing today?LA: I'm so good. How are you?KO: I'm good. I'm really excited to be talking about your audiobook. Can you actually talk to me about recording it? What was that experience like?LA: Well, I was just about nine months pregnant. I'm trying to remember what month it was. I think I was about nine months pregnant and it was four days. It was really cold. My husband kept the other two girls, and me and Lennon in my tummy went and we recorded for hours and hours and hours. It was unlike anything I'd ever done. My husband, I think, has done things like that quite a bit. He's a singer and performer. I felt like the microphone is no big deal to him, but it was really nerve-wracking. It was weird hearing myself back in my ears. Then reading my story out loud was also... When you hear the words come out of your mouth, you're like, "Did that sound good?" There were a few times where I was like, "I just need to redo that whole paragraph because that's not the tone of voice I want to use." It was a lot of things that I wasn't really prepared for, but I think in a good way it made it a little more raw and I really did have fun with it. Once I got used to it, it was really cool.KO: I'm so impressed having listened to it that you did that nine months pregnant because I know how out of breath you can get, especially toward the end of your pregnancy. I commend you for being able to do it at all.LA: Thank you. Honestly, with two little ones running around at home, it was a nice change in pace for me. I got to sit down and I got breaks to go to the snack room… and people being like, "Can I get you some more water?" It was just like, "Wow, this is actually really nice. I feel like I'm just being taken care of and just have to read my book out loud all day long." It was fun.KO: A good parenting break.LA: For sure.KO: Your husband, Thomas Rhett, is also on the audiobook. I was curious, did he go through the book and decide where he wanted to chime in and contribute? Or did you already have the topics in mind where you wanted to add his perspective?LA: When we were writing the book, it was something where… there are moments where I was like, "This will be a really good time to have his story in here." And so anytime throughout the book where I put his voice in the book, I asked if he would read all those parts. It really wasn't that many. He came in and knocked it out in like an hour or so, and he was obviously really good at it because he knows how to do those kinds of things.As a mom, my biggest struggle, and I think a lot of moms would agree, is how much of yourself to give to your children.KO: His job.LA: It was cool getting to do that part together and I think it was a fun, little added bonus for people who know who he is or are a fan of him to have his voice also in the audio, because I would prefer for him to be able just to have his voice in there because he is in there quite a bit. It was fun for me to get to have him be a part of it.KO: Your own little collaboration, which is always fun. You talk a lot about balancing your dreams against the dreams of your husband, which I think a lot of women can relate to. You found a beautiful passion and purpose with your mission work. Can you talk to me a bit more about what that balance is like today?LA: Wow. Today it is chaos. Before we had kids, it was really easy for us to share our time with each other and then take our time for ourselves. Now that we've got three little girls, it's a lot harder to balance everything just because they need so much. We do have a lot of help, but I think as a mom, my biggest struggle, and I think a lot of moms would agree, is how much of yourself to give to your children. Because as a mom, I think most moms want to give them everything because they do depend on you. My husband depends on me in certain ways, but he's not a child. You know?KO: Yeah.LA: There are moments where I look at him and go, "Listen, our kids need me to do this. You're going to have to do this yourself." Or vice versa. He'll be doing something for the kids and I have to do whatever it is I'm doing by myself. In the same way, I have to be really careful that I'm not just looking past our marriage and only looking to our kids, because then if our marriage suffers, then the whole family suffers. It has been a balancing act, finding the time for myself and finding the time for my kids, picking out the things in their lives that I for sure want to be the one to make their lunches for school every day, or take them to all of their practices or dance recitals. Or making sure that we have movie night and it's only us here, or whatever it may be but taking the time for my marriage and for my husband. Then with all the projects we have on the side and me making time to go to Africa a couple of times a year. There are a lot of moving parts. I think one thing that our family has that not everyone has is a really incredible support system with our families. We're very close with my side and with his side. They help me so, so much, but then we also have people we have hired to be around us and to help our lives go a little bit smoother. The bottom line of all of it for us is just communication and knowing what's important and knowing what we need to make sure we carve out time for. But then also asking for help, wherever that help comes from, because we cannot do it on our own.KO: I love that. Yeah. I think it's so important to ask for help because it is so easy to lose yourself to any one of those parts, but especially to motherhood, because you do feel this overwhelming... I don't know if "duty" is the right word, but I think you said it so well. You want to be the one to do it all and to do everything. I think so many women struggle with just the very basic step of asking for help. Thank you for modeling that.As a working mom and with a busy working partner I know things are crazy on a good day, and throw in the pandemic and everything is even more hectic with everyone trying to work from home. Do you have any great parenting hacks that you picked up during quarantine?LA: I don't know that this is a hack, but just… whatever's going on, whatever they're getting into, whatever I'm getting into, just do it all together. If they're playing princess dress-up and they want to put makeup on everybody, just let them put makeup on you. If you're cooking supper and they're all in the kitchen, give them something to do that they can help with supper because it was... Goodness gracious. I mean, after a few days, after three days in quarantine we were like, "How is this going to work? Are we going to be able to do this for this long?"Finally, we just got to a point where we were like, "Okay." We got into a pretty good routine every day, but there are moments where the kids weren't leaving the house. We weren't leaving the house. Nobody else was coming over, and so we were like, "All right. We're in it. We're all just going to do this together and if we don't all get bathed today, it's not the end of the world. We'll figure it out tomorrow. If the kitchen's a wreck, let it be a wreck." I think we live in a world that everything seems to be so perfect looking into each other's lives, especially through social media.It's easy to put those filters on and make your life look like you have it all together. I think another thing that is a huge struggle for me is wanting everything to look and seem like it's okay and I've got it together and, "We are happy. We're happy. We're all happy, right?" It's just not reality.KO: Yeah.LA: The days in quarantine it was really hard. Thomas Rhett and I would fight, or the girls wouldn't get along and play well together, or they play so hard they'd wake the baby up when I finally got her down for the nap or whatever it was. It was just like taking a step back and going, "Okay. I know that there are so many other moms feeling exactly what I'm feeling now and so I'm not alone in this." Just living in the mess and being okay with it was something that we just had to get used to. We have Elbia, who's like a part of our family, but she helps me keep our house.I mean, she helps me with laundry. She helps with cleaning. She sometimes will even bring over groceries if I need her to. She wasn't here at all for the entire quarantine. And so, I'll never forget Thomas Rhett getting out a mop and a bucket and asking me, "Okay. What do I do here with this?" Watching him mop the floor. I was like, "Is this the first time that you've ever mopped a house?" He was like, "Yes." I was like, "We're all learning new things in quarantine."Just the little moments like that. Our memories that were hilarious, it was in the midst of, "Okay. We got to figure out a new plan here." We did, and we did it all together.KO: All together, all the time. No breaks. I think that's a really good segue actually to my next question, which I applaud you and you talk about it in your audiobook too, for saying, "We got a nanny. We got an assistant for the family and everything." Because I think on social media, there are so many people that are looking to celebrities or influencers and are looking at them thinking that they're doing it all on their own. That they also need to live up to that standard. Which is insane because how can any one person take on that much?How do you balance that pressure and responsibility of knowing that you're a role model? Even as you're talking about in your audiobook, an ideal to some people that are looking from the outside in?LA: I have to be really careful to not analyze things way too much. I think there are parts of our life that are very different from everyone else. I think it's okay for us to admit a lot of that. At the same time, there are parts of us that are just like everybody else. For the most part, we are just like everybody else. We just have a lot more people watching us. I do think we have a lot more pressure than most people in that sense, as far as, "Don't say the wrong thing, don't look the wrong part." There's nothing that we say or do that doesn't get some kind of backlash. That's just the world we live in today. It's really important to have an adult community that can speak into your life and can give you advice.I think trying to put myself into the place of, like I said, the mom who's feeling exactly the way that I feel when I feel defeated or when I'm feeling mom guilt, or when I'm realizing I'm neglecting my marriage and need to take time for me and Thomas Rhett...I think recognizing the things in me that I'm not good at and trying to speak that truth into my life, but then also taking those things that are real and being able to share that with other women around the world and encourage them to keep going. Or if I need to be the voice, that's like, "Get back up and do it because you deserve it, and you doing that for yourself is going to speak volumes to your children watching you as they grow up." Just knowing that a lot of the things that I struggle with today, so many other people struggle with, and keeping in mind those things when I'm posting pictures or doing an interview or meeting somebody at the grocery store that wants to just talk. Just remembering to be myself. The mess and the good and the famous part and the part that's just me, letting all of that be who I am. With every conversation I have or everything I do, just showing all those parts of me because, man, I think as a world, we've got to stop pretending like we have everything together or… just all those facets, just letting all of that be me wherever I go.KO: That's great. I relate very much to what you said about not taking time for yourself. I try to do walks, but then I convince myself that, "Well, lifting toddlers is really just like lifting weights so that's going to count for today." My arms should really be in better shape at this point, but it is what it is.LA: I feel you. KO: You're very open and vulnerable in your memoir about the counseling that you and Thomas Rhett sought. You recommend it for all couples who are considering marriage as well. Outside of counseling, what's your best piece of advice for married couples or couples who are getting ready to get married?LA: For us, our lifeline outside of counseling and church before COVID hit that we went to every week with our family, we have a small group. That is like a small group, Bible study, there are so many names. I think I've referred to it as a couple different names and people are like, "What is that?" Basically just couples our age, married, who get together and talk about real stuff. We hold each other accountable and we pray for each other and we go out. The girls will all go get drinks one night and the guys will hang back and drink bourbon around a fire.Or like this past fall when I was really pregnant, we all went out to a farm and spent a weekend together. It's just basically people who you want to be like and model your marriage like and how you want to raise your children and the beliefs you have. Keeping those people around you who are bold enough to love you when you need the tough love. Somebody to speak into your life and say, "Hey, I feel like you're struggling in this area. How can we help?" Or celebrate with you when really good things happen, but just having that community around you.It's really important to have an adult community that can speak into your life and can give you advice. That has been a lifeline for us… I think we've been a group for two years, two and a half years. I hope that it lasts for 65. You know? I hope that we can be together and do this for the rest of our lives. I think we were designed for community, and so I think if you don't have that, I think that's something every married couple needs.KO: I like that a lot. I'm going to talk to our couple friends about that tonight and be like, "Let's get this going." Because it is nice when you can have that, if you and your partner are having a tough day, to not feel like you need to sweep that under the rug when all of a sudden you're in front of another family. It can make a really big difference just being able to be comfortable with how your emotions are in that moment.LA: Absolutely. It's so good.KO: While listening to your memoir, I feel like I got to know your family and your crew as you call them. It's really hard for me to pick a favorite, but I really loved your dad. I loved his radical honesty, no holds barred, everything-is-open approach to you and your friends. I was curious if he is that way with his grandchildren as well and if that's something that you want to take into your parenting style?LA: Yeah. I think there are moments where I look at my dad and go, "No filter. You have no filter. At least filter it just a little bit around the kids." Looking back when I was growing up, I remember so many times my mom's eyes being the size of saucers, looking at my dad, "Did that come out of your mouth in front of our children?" I do think there are moments where I'm like, "I hope I'm a little more filtered than he is." But so many of our fun family stories go back to Dad's mouth. It's a quality about him that everyone who knows him knows that that's one of their most favorite qualities about him. Exactly what you see is what he is.I do think that's healthy. I do think it's very healthy for you just to be free and be so comfortable that you're like, "You know what? I'm comfortable with who I am and I'm going to tell you exactly who I am." I do think the honesty was a huge part of me feeling like it was okay for me to be honest in my life with different things. I don't even know that he meant to raise us that way. I don't know that his super openness and honesty throughout our childhood was something that he thought would shape how we parent or how we do marriage.It's good for our kids to see our imperfections or it’s good for them to see us struggle a little bit.I think what his goal was, was to keep us out of trouble or to teach us things in life. I see now where I definitely model that with my… even with Willa Gray now, just with her asking about where she came from. Or I think it's easy for some parents to go, "Well, their brain can't really understand this yet. I'll make up a different story. We'll talk about it another time." For me, it was like, "No." I vividly remember moments in my life where I would ask my dad a question and... I say he had no filter... I think that he knows things that we wouldn't be able to handle at certain ages, but he would still find a way to tell me the truth, but make it more G-rated or whatever it may be. Or turn it into a story that's easy for a child to understand. I've seen myself do that with my kids, and especially with Willa Gray now. She's almost five. With her asking questions, I never want to look back and go, "Well, I had to make up a story to tell you that when you were younger because I didn't know how to tell you." I don't ever want them to look back and go, "I can't believe you lied to me about this." Or, "Why wouldn't you just tell me?" I'm sure those moments will still happen, even though I'll try to avoid them. But I really, really want to be honest with my kids. It's good for our kids to see our imperfections or it’s good for them to see us struggle a little bit. To go, "Actually, I don't have an answer for you just yet. Let me think on it and let's talk about it tomorrow." Or, "I actually don't know that answer. Let me go ask someone who may know and we'll figure it out together." I think that what a lot of parents feel is pressure to have an answer right then and have a good answer and a reason why. It's okay if you don't have that and I think it's okay to tell your kids that you don't. That's also another parent struggle I feel like I already struggle with, and I don't even have a five-year-old. Check back with me in like 25 years on the topic and I'll let you know how it's gone.KO: I'll make a note. What's next for you?LA: Oh man, Thomas Rhett has not worked this year. Well, I should say he's not toured this year. We're hopeful that he'll be able to do some things next year. We had a baby in February and we quarantined when she was a newborn for a while, a long time. We just started traveling recently just because he's not on tour, and so trips that otherwise we probably wouldn't be able to do, we're trying to do now. Because of that, I feel like we've not spent a lot of time at home now that Lennon's able to play a little bit more with her sisters.I think what I want to do is just spend some time in Nashville with my three girls before he goes back on tour, if that's something he's able to do next year. Because I know with each new child, life gets more and more hectic and I don't think we're finished having kids. So I want to take the time that I have now with my girls and just have as much family time as possible. This book was an incredible project, but it was exhausting at times and it did take a lot for it to be what it is today.So next on my list is my kids and my husband. Things are starting to slow down a little bit after the book, so we've been able to spend more family time together. I'm just looking forward to spending some time in Nashville with my family, honestly.KO: Yeah. That sounds delightful. Thank you. It was so nice to meet you and lovely talking with you. I appreciate you taking the time today.LA: Thank you, Katie. Tags Authorrators Celebrities Interviews Memoir More from Lauren Akins Live in Love Recommended The Best Black Audiobook Narrators to Listen To Right Now Escape From Our Echo Chambers Starts With Listening Greatness Claire Adam's Debut Novel 'Golden Child' Shows That No Person Is An Island, Even When Living On One 7 Ways You Can Enjoy The Baby-Sitters Club Up Next Our Best Interviews and Features of 2020 Through the trying and historic moments of 2020, creators reflected back to us the deep humanity within our collective experience.