True love, they say, is not all rainbows and roses. Nikki Pennington and her husband of 11 years, Jerred, knows this all too well, and the mommy blogger shared her insight into what makes for a strong long-term relationship in a post to Facebook that quickly went viral.
“Jer and I have been together since we were teenagers,” she began her candid post. “After thirteen years of being together and eleven years of marriage I’ve had people ask me, ‘So, what’s the secret to a successful marriage?’ I usually laugh.”
Nikki referenced the typical responses of “Don’t go to bed angry” or “Always say I love you when they leave”—and then offered her own two cents.
“The secret to a long lasting marriage is there is no secret at all,” she continued. “It’s a get up and try again over and over every damn day. It’s hanging on tight when you are young, newly married and living on frozen dinners because it’s all you can afford. It’s staying up all night in tears with your first newborn child because you both are over tired, overwhelmed and scared to death but you are in it together.”
“It’s counting pennies when you are young so that you can build a life together for your future family. It’s about knowing that nothing is going to turn out perfect, that your marriage won’t be a highlight reel because that’s not real life. It’s about being deep in the trenches of so many obstacles that life could throw you and getting to look over and know that you aren’t alone and that your best friend is walking with you. It’s about knowing that you can never be prepared for the burdens you might have to help your partner carry but you do know you are willing to be there when they need rest from the burden.”
The post has clearly struck a deep chord with many users; as of Thursday afternoon, the initial post has been liked more than 93,000 times and shared nearly 114,000 times.
“I am in complete shock and so thankful,” Nikki tells The Knot. “I honestly can’t tell you when I realized it was reaching so many people because it happened so fast! It went from two shares and that evening it didn’t stop. I had to keep checking my page to make sure it was real.”
The pair first met when Jerred was 18 and Nikki was 19 through Nikki’s grandfather; she had moved from Florida to Kentucky at the time.
“I love that Jerred is the complete opposite of me,” Nikki says of her husband. “That helps keep me grounded. I also love that he doesn’t ever shoot down my dreams no matter how elaborate or impossible they seem. He always believes in me and what I am capable of and that’s important.”
Not long after the couple got married, Nikki’s mother died of brain cancer, and going through the tough time helped bring them closer together.
“I was grieving and he had never experienced such a significant loss so he wasn’t sure what to do,” Nikki says. “I remember he told me he wasn’t sure what to do and that’s honestly what I really needed. He didn’t try and fix my grief; instead, he just walked it with me and allowed me to lead the way.”
These days, Nikki says, they continue to learn and grow together—now with the addition of their two young children.
“Here is where everyone might find we are different when it comes to marriage and the ‘secrets’ about date nights: we honestly don’t do anything without the kids,” she says. “We feel as though the time for date nights will come later on in life when the kids are grown. For us right now life is about making memories with our sons as a family.”