#55 - Overcoming obstacles and fighting for your marriage with Doug and Jamie Hehner

February 6, 2024
52
 MIN

Episode Summary

Doug and Jamie Hehner, known for meeting and marrying as strangers on season 1 of Lifetime TV’s Married At First Sight, join Aro Co-Founder Joey this week on The Aro Podcast. They open up about overcoming personal obstacles before meeting, with Jamie taking custody of her sister and dealing with her mother's addiction, and Doug sharing his journey through addiction, including a near overdose. Reflecting on their experience on Married at First Sight, they share how it has shaped their ongoing efforts to nurture their marriage. Jamie offers valuable advice for couples facing challenges, emphasizing the potential for stronger love on the other side of the adversity they may be experiencing. The show wraps up with Doug and Joey discussing how the Hehner's are managing phone use and technology in their home.

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Episode Transcript

Jamie Hehner (00:00):

If you know your person is good at their core and they're just doing the bad wrong things that you're not happy with, try to stick it out. Try to help them try to be their partner. That is the idea of marriage and unions. I mean, when we say for sickness or health, for better or worse, whatever happened to the worst or the sickness, we got to stick it out. When you do get to the other side your love, I'm telling you, I've never loved this man more than I do right now. I mean, truly. And the same would be said, and it's been 10 years and I know this, but I could tell you at that nine year mark, I wasn't sure. So when you stick it out though, that love becomes stronger and stronger and stronger. And that's how I think that the people who last many, many decades, it's because they know that secret. And it takes going through all these hard times to be able to figure that secret out. And we are fortunate or unfortunate to have gone through all these issues already. So we've kind of experienced it maybe a little earlier in our marriage.

Joey Odom (01:06):

Welcome back to The Aro Podcast. Hey, it's your good buddy, Joey Odom, Co-Founder of Aro. And today's episode is going to be something that I think we can all relate to. It's not the most fun thing to talk about, but it's about when we go through difficult times. And before we get to that, I want to just offer an encouragement as you're going through difficult things. And this episode it's with Doug and Jamie Haner. We'll talk about them in a moment. But this episode reminded me of when we spoke with Scott Hamilton. Scott was the US gold figure skater, one of the most well-known Olympians, really US Olympians in modern era for us. And I'd encourage you to go back and listen to his episode because Scott said during that interview, he said, we go through life and we're drawing conclusions without having the full story.

(01:56)
So that to me is what this episode really goes into. So if you're in a difficult time, which I suspect if you're a human, you might be in a difficult time or you may have been getting out of one or you may be going into one. But as we're going through those things, I want to encourage you and let you know that that will end, that every storm in history has passed except for the one you're currently in. So if you're struggling, it will pass. And don't throw in the towel and keep powering through because Doug and Jamie, they talk about it. When you can power through those things, you look back at 'em almost with some gratitude. Gratitude for going through them. We here at The Aro Podcast is to help you live an intentional life. And we believe one of the biggest distractions against intentionality can be our phones.

(02:45)
Our phones are great, but they really can get in the way of that. We want to help you put them down. We want to make it easy for you to put down your phone so you can focus on the things that are most important to you. So I want to give you a challenge, and this is whether you are an Aro member or not. And if you want to learn more about Aro, please do go to goaro.com. But that's not what this is about. This challenge for you is for you to look for cues to put down your phone because there's a real power when you do that. That power of putting down your phone, you communicate to the other person, the person across the table from you, that they're more important than your phone, that they have value, that they're important to you.

(03:20)
So I want to encourage you to do that. So here's the way to do it, is to look for those cues. And those cues can be subtle. They can be overt. So if your spouse says to you, Hey, I had a really hard day, that's a cue for you to say and say it out loud. Say, can we talk about, lemme put my phone away and I'd love to talk about it. Or if one of your kids, we know so many parents, listen to The Aro Podcast. If one of your kids comes to you, and again, it may be overt, it may be, dad, mom, can I talk to you? Or it could just be they just start talking. They just say, oh, you won't believe what happened today at school. That's a great moment to just say, oh, let me put my phone away.

(03:55)
Or just, we know people who just throw their phone across the room, put in the Aro box if you have it, throw it across the room, whatever you need to do to let that person know that what they're saying is important. And in doing that, you're going to build intimacy and closeness with that person across the table from you. They're going to know they can trust you. All that said, that's your challenge this week. Look for those cues to put down your phone and be present with that person. And the Haner episode today, they have a really amazing story in their history and their backstory into addiction and reality tv. And when Jamie, she took guardianship over her siblings when she was in college. They are overcomers and they met, you may have actually seen them on tv. They met at married at first sight.

(04:42)
The first time they met was when they were at the altar together. So it's a really, really interesting story. Jamie had been on, she had been on The Bachelor before, and they did all of this legitimately. They were looking for someone to connect with and they hadn't met each other. They got married, and then they talk about all the things that have happened in their marriage since and really getting to know each other as they got married. We all are. I thought that was interesting to think about. The fact that I've been almost married for almost 20 years. I'm still getting to know my wife, and we all still are getting to know our spouses. So whether you met your spouse at the altar like the hangers, which I bet you didn't or you're still getting to know them, it's a real encouragement on how to get through difficult things, overcome difficulties, overcome differences. I hope you enjoy it. I really love the conversation. I think we could have gone another hour with Doug and Jamie. So for now, just sit back, relax, enjoy my conversation with Doug and Jamie Hanger.

Joey Odom (05:42):

Like most couples, these two met for the very first time at the altar. They had their wedding on national television and they were contractually obligated to remain married for eight weeks. Pretty typical stuff. Lucky for the world. They have voluntarily remained in the nearly 10 years since he's traded in the garden state for a Sunshine State Garden where he cooks up delicious meals and marital wisdom. She's a wifey 1 0 1 professor who's lived in a bachelor mansion, a bachelor pad, and an rv. She's delivered babies as a nurse and always delivers humor and authenticity when they're not spoonfeeding us. Great content on their podcast. They're probably spooning on the couch watching murder mysteries. They're cool parents in a hot marriage, and you're going to love them at first sight. Please welcome to The Aro Podcast, Henley and Hendrick's, mom and dad, Doug and Jamie.

Jamie Hehner (06:32):

Oh, that was such a brilliant introduction. I don't think I've ever had a more fun introduction than that. Yeah, great intro. Did you say most couples we met at the altar? Yeah,

Joey Odom (06:42):

That's right. Most couples, well, I mean, pretty typical story, right? Yeah. Meet at the altar, your wedding's on national television. That's just kind of normal kind of American marriage right now,

Jamie Hehner (06:50):

Right? Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for making us feel very normal.

Joey Odom (06:56):

That's right. Well, it's very easy to write an intro like that with such great guests and rich backgrounds and content. So I'm really excited for our chat today. Us too. Thank you. This is a series on overcoming obstacles, and I don't want to dive too deep, too dark necessarily, but before we get to married at first sight, before we get to kind of what you've gone through in your marriage and the way you've reconciled, which is a beautiful story, I want to hear about the obstacles at a young age in both of you. Both of you have great stories, stories of redemption, stories of overcoming obstacles. And Jamie, I'd love to jump to your freshman year in college. You made a very big decision to take custody of your younger sisters, and will you give the listener, give us a little bit of a ride on that journey on how everything came about

Jamie Hehner (07:58):

There? First of all, I'm like, where do I begin?

Joey Odom (08:02):

Sorry, little minor question.

Jamie Hehner (08:04):

Yeah. So my mom did the best she could with five children. She was a single mother and she had truly no support. I mean, she really just had no support and she was with men. So my stepdad was in and out of jail for, I mean, beating her all the time, just he would threaten to kill her in front of us just all the time. A lot of time he'd be in a drunken rage and be jealous if she was cheating or if just all sorts of different things. And so eventually she had the courage to leave him, but then she was left with five children all by herself. And so as an adult looking back, I'm like, wow, I can kind of see how my mom fell into a coping mechanism with drugs because she didn't have a support system. And when you don't have a support system and you need a release, I mean, it's the age old thing.

(08:59)
I mean whether it's alcohol, drugs, whatever. So you have to find some sort of a coping mechanism. And hers happened to be drugs, unfortunately. And at first it was just kind of in our house or friend's house, mostly in our, she would be with us is what I'm starting to say. But then she started disappearing and she would just leave with her friends and she'd be gone for just a couple nights at first. And then it was a week, a couple weeks, and we had no food, we had no electricity, we had no heat. I mean, it was really dire towards the end there. And she was getting eviction. We always were evicted from so many travels that we lived in. So that was nothing new. But this time around this, when I started, started taking care of my siblings, she didn't have a backup plan.

(09:42)
Usually she would find a place, she'd go to the welfare office, and I mean, she would fix it. And honestly, I'm proud of my mom for that because that's a lot of work. So I'm proud that up until that point, she was able to kind of keep us have the roof over our heads anyways. And unfortunately, it got really as it does with addiction, it got really, really bad. And I, to just make the story short, I was just so fed up. I was a teenager and I was just looking for, I wanted out of that situation so bad. And so I went and rented a trailer from my grandparents. It's a long story. I write all about it and WebView 1 0 1, but I went rented a trailer for my grandparents just because I was like, I want to know that I have a place to stay.

(10:31)
And this trailer was nothing fancy. I mean, it literally had the ceiling leaked and the heat didn't work half the time, but at least I knew it was mine and I couldn't be evicted from it because I started with this job as a waitress, and I was making enough money where I could afford it for once. And so soon after that, and I knew the eviction was coming because the notices were coming, and my mom was just gone all the time. And so I always feel quite bad that I just left myself. I should have taken my siblings. But when you're a teenager, you don't think that you can even do that. And so my siblings were just running the trailer park lost without any parents. I mean, it was a really awful situation. And my mom ended up coming over to this trailer that I was renting from my grandparents and said, listen, there is no place for them to go after school because we can't even go back to that.

(11:21)
I don't know that she said they boarded up the, which I'm pretty sure is illegal. You can't really board up. But I mean, she got a lot of eviction notices and I'm sure they were get out of our trailer. So anyways, she said, can they get off the bus at your house or at your trailer or whatever? And so I was like, of course, those are my siblings and I love them so much. I had no idea that it had gotten to that point. And so they got off the bus, so she left. They got off the bus at my home and my mom just didn't come back for a while. That was kind of her thing, and I didn't even care. I loved having my siblings with me. So we figured out a system where they helped me as much as I helped them.

(12:09)
My sister, Amy Lynn, really wanted tv, cable tv, and I was like, girl, that is the luxury we cannot afford. And if you want that, you can go work at McDonald's. And sure enough, she went and worked at McDonald's and she would walk herself from the high school. It's her first job. She walked herself from the high school down to McDonald's, worked at McDonald's, and then when I got done with college and work myself, I would pick her up and we'd come home. So she started taking on, that was the only thing she paid. She just wanted cable. And I'm like, oh, we ain't getting cable. And then she pay for it.

(12:46)
And then my sister, Leah would help me. My brother, they're twins, Leah and dj, but men are notoriously less mature than women. And so my brother was just for sure less mature than the rest of us. And so I would be like Leah, keep an eye on him while I'm gone, and she would help keep our home clean and sometimes I'd come home from work and she'd have dinner just kind of saved for me. And we had our own little system in place, so it wasn't terrible. It was actually a really great thing that happened in our life. I think we became very close because of it.

Joey Odom (13:22):

It's a pretty amazing perspective. You have the benefit of time now to say, see the good in it. And what I like about it is that it's almost as if in the situation to you, it didn't sound like it was even a decision. You read about it now and it seems like a grand decision, I'm sure for you. At the time, it was just, this is what needs to be done and I'm going to do it, is kind of how the thought process was like, of course I'm going to take care of my siblings.

Jamie Hehner (13:48):

I mean, there was no question. It wasn't a grand decision at all. It was my mom came over and said, and the story goes on. It's a very long story, unfortunately. But because my mom ended up, she would always come with food from the free food pantry, and she would say that I need to pay her gas money for that because it cost her to go get the food free food. And I was so angry with my mom and bitter, like I said, just like you said, now that I'm older, looking back, it's fine. But at the time I was bitter. I was angry with my mom. I felt abandoned and alone, and it was a really, really hard time. Of course. And I'm fortunate I have the best siblings, so they made it easy. It wasn't.

(14:32)
So she came over and she asked for money and she was like, you need to give them gas money. I just brought you food. And I was like, you got me food from the free food pantry for your kids, and no, I'm not giving you gas money. And she got mad at me and she took them away from me, and she made them go live with her boyfriend who ended up molesting my sister. I mean, it was just an atrocious situation. And so then eventually the state found out what was going on, and so then I actually went to court and my mom had to prove that she was off drugs and could have a stable job and had a home for my siblings and never really could. So my older sister and I ended up splitting custody between my three younger siblings.

Joey Odom (15:19):

Wow. My gosh. That story is amazing. And I can even hearing it, I can hear I hadn't heard the full story when, we'll jump forward in a few minutes on your marriage, how it was just you are the type of person you can just tell who says, no, this is what needs to be done, so I'm going to make sure that it gets done. And even in reconciling differences in your marriages, they can already see the parallels coming about. Doug, you have, you've been open about a struggle with addiction, and this was 13, 14 years ago, is that right? Yeah, somewhere in that neighborhood. Yeah. I

Doug Hehner (15:57):

Mean, it stemmed from college. So towards the end of college and then afterwards, before we jump into that though, now when we go up knowing the full story of Jamie's upbringing, her family is so, I mean, there's always this sibling rivalry, I would say, but the fact that each of 'em have their own families and kids and jobs and they're really taking care of themselves is just really a testament to how strong that they are.

Jamie Hehner (16:35):

Thanks, dog. That makes me want to cry. That feels good

Joey Odom (16:38):

To hear. I mean, I almost didn't, I probably sheepishly avoided that question of where are they now? But to hear that, Doug, for hear you say that, what amazing. I mean, that needs to be a book. It needs to be a movie. I mean, because people are going through such amazingly difficult things. I think as I think about my life and describe my life that I don't have those obstacles that I've overcome. And I think I'm probably, I think as a result, I couldn't be nearly as strong having not gone through something like that. So to your point, Jamie on, Hey, this is a great thing that happened, that's a tough perspective to have unless you've gone through it to see who you've become now, who they've become. What an amazing story. And I know that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Jamie Hehner (17:23):

Yeah, no, thanks. Yeah.

Joey Odom (17:27):

Doug, I'd love to hear a little bit about your battle with addiction, and we'll talk in a few minutes about how when Jamie learned of that, because she didn't learn about it until years into your marriage, but will you tell a little bit about that and struggling with addiction, overcoming addiction and how you came through all of that?

Doug Hehner (17:44):

Yeah, when you go through, once you make it out to the other side and you're going through different, whether you're attending meetings and things, you learn that it is a disease. You learn also that certain people have a predisposition to addiction. Sometimes it comes in the form of other things. For me, I played sports my entire life, went to college on a baseball scholarship, and then going into my junior year, I tore my shoulder and had to get shoulder surgery. I tore my labrum in the front and the back, and that's really where I got a taste for painkillers. Then as I had to give up baseball, as I started to work, as I started to get money, pills became more available.

(18:41)
I don't know if I was always the team captain, I was always sort of the leader. Even within my group of friends, I would organize. I would be the one to say, let's go here, let's go out, let's go there. The addiction part of me hid that from everyone close to me. I never did it around any of my best friends, any of my family, which looking back, there was no one to tell me to stop because I never did that with any of my friends. It wasn't until you could notice that I'm sleeping in or that I was losing weight or times where I couldn't find any pills. I was just stuck in bed and just miserable. And so I went from this really social person to struggling with addiction, not telling anybody I was struggling with addiction, spending all of my money on drugs, and that was just a spiral down, and it was an addict. Doesn't want to admit they're an addict. So it's not like I was going to come out and say that, but I think it started to come about and I started lying to my family about where I was going. And so they caught me a few times. And then my friends, my friend, my roommate at the time, Tim told my parents and staged an intervention where that's when that was where my journey started to try to get off, but it was still a struggle and a challenge even until then.

(20:31)
And anybody with an addiction, the meetings helped. I did almost overdose and die where my sister heard me gurgling in bed and got me. So that was kind of like a rock bottom point. And at the end of the day, an addict, you have to want to be clean. You have to want to stop meetings and take this with a grain of salt, but meetings aren't going to necessarily be your be all end all. Having a sponsor is not going to get you clean, but you have to want to get clean. The person has to want get clean. People can't tell you to stop. It's like when someone's depressed and you tell them just to be happy, that part doesn't help ever thank you. But I had a lot to lose. I had a lot of love still around me, but it is still like that transition from social to not social, to struggling with addiction, trying to come back to real life was kind of tough because you separate yourself from going out and being the life of the party and then was just different.

(22:04)
You get insecure, people know. Of course, I was just so happy to just be off of drugs. I can't imagine. And thankfully there was a medication that came out, Suboxone, which I guess it's kind of like trading an addiction, but it's not in a sense because it's something that curbs the receptors in your brain. It doesn't allow you to get high, but it also makes sure that you don't go through withdrawals, which is also a trade off though, because while you're on it, you're not going through withdrawals. But also if you were to come off of it, you go through withdrawals. It's just delaying withdrawals. Yeah. But it allows you to function as a, just regularly,

Aro Member (22:57):

Several of my daughters will say, do you think you could put your phone in the box and we could play in the play kitchen, or we could take a walk outside, or they're noticing that my eyes are on them. And I think that's a huge motivator to keep using it because we're putting a ton of intentionality in how we're raising our family, the time that we're spending with our kids, and I don't want them to look back and go, yeah, they did X, Y, Z, but I remember my mom sitting on the couch looking at the phone. That breaks my heart to think of that. And it's also helping them understand I still do things that are important on my phone. It's not always being off of it, but they are. They're definitely seeing mom's putting her phone in the box. We put our phones in on Friday night. We don't take 'em out until Saturday night. We do a formal putting it in, Hey, it's Friday night. We eat pizza together every Friday night. And so I think that's really cool too, where they're seeing it's Saturday, it's a rest day. Mom and dad are hanging out with us. We're doing stuff as a family, and so we just love it.

Joey Odom (23:50):

We love hearing stories from the Aro community. The one you just heard actually comes from our Voices of Aro episodes where I sit down with Aro members and they share about their stories and their lives with Aro. Make sure to check out the Voices of Aro episodes, and if you're a member who would like to share your own story with Aro, please email us at stories@goaro.com.

(24:12)
So I want to fast forward to the altar with cameras on you, and y'all told your story on the lead up of that, and everybody should watch Married first sight season one because it's a great seeing your story. It's the best season. Here we are. Here's the best season ever. Yeah, exactly. Started off the bang. So here we are. You have two people looking at each other, and even though your stories are, they're so beautiful, they are stories of redemption, overcoming addiction and overcoming everything you went through, Jamie, but here two people are and nothing of the other story you had not seen physically the other person at all. And in some ways, I do think even though yours is more pronounced, it's almost like your story is more pronounced like, oh, you overcame all list and you never seen each other. In a way, everybody goes into marriage with that, with two people, with individual stories that you don't know the full breadth of because you weren't there for them, even though you hadn't seen each other face to face.

(25:13)
I think my wife and I, we've been married 20 years, I know we've been married almost 20 years, but I think even at the time we had seen each other plenty, but we hadn't really seen each other. You know what I mean? We hadn't seen how the other person reacts in different situations and what they're like and how all of their upbringing informs how they act today. So I think there's actually a really interesting parallel there. Knowing all of that, I feel like you all were forced into a situation or placed into a situation where you really had to focus on what are the essentials here? What do I focus on? I haven't been able to judge this person based on criteria I'm relying on other people. How has that informed the way you look at your relationship in your marriage in saying, here's what's essential, here's important, and even maybe for somebody who's even listening right now who's thinking this marriage is irreconcilable or I thought they were this way, but they weren't. What are those core things that you all have gone back to? That's a really long question. The core thing you've gone back to, and then a related question to that is, why in the heck did you decide to stay married? Why did you, the odds were so stacked against you, why on Earth before kids especially, why did you say, I'm going to stick in this? That's a lot. So both of you take it whatever direction you want to go.

Doug Hehner (26:34):

Yeah, so I think the situation that I was in, I was single, it was maybe a couple months or shorter. There was a person that I was seeing, and it ended and the addiction history of the addiction, it was a driving factor that split us up, and it was just kind of the right place at the right time. It was too bizarre and too weird of a situation, this love experiment where I kind of felt like it was sort of meant to be in a very strange way. When we went through the process, it was called a love experiment, and I was in the room with just all guys and they explained what the show is. They said, we're going to match you up based with experts and each in their fields, and we're going to do this intense background on you. You can paint a picture of what you want your wife to be, what you want your spouse to look like, think morals, everything, and based on that information, if they find a match, a perfect match for you, the first time you see that person will be at your wedding. A lot of people got up and left after they said that, but to me it sounded like that is a no-brainer for me.

(28:08)
If I could tell you the perfect person that I think I want and think that I would want to marry and I trust the experts, then yeah, this is something that I wanted to jump on. Now going into the marriage, all of my relationships, once they started to fall off and tail off, it was just, I would say a lot of it was communication, just not knowing how to communicate, not being mature enough to be able to handle bigger conversations or share everything about me, especially after addiction, you sort of get closed off and you don't know how to talk to people. You don't know how to build that deep connection. You hide your vulnerabilities, and that was part of my fiber at that point. Fast forward to going through the marriage process. It kind of like if you were in a fraternity or if you were going away to war, it's not as severe, obviously, but that comradery that you build, it's like Jamie and I went through something together.

(29:19)
We were serious about it. We wanted it to work. I think one of the, I would say a hundred percent of the reason why I think we were able to stay together and make it through the process was we had a team of experts helping us where I've never had couples therapy. I never had therapy in the sense where we're working through things and here we were going through a crazy experiment having the luxury of a psychologist, a sexologist, a sociologist, a spiritual advisor that was helping us throughout the whole way. And that made it comfortable for us even later in the marriage to seek therapy because it kind of felt like it worked. Oh, that's,

Jamie Hehner (30:04):

Yeah.

Joey Odom (30:06):

Jamie, for you, how did that whole process, how has that informed the way you've looked at your marriage and even your background and you saying, no, I'm going to stick with this thing and I'm going to work through these huge and small differences all along the way.

Jamie Hehner (30:21):

I oddly really believed and married at ForSight as well. I know that must sound so bizarre to anyone listening who, I mean truly, even in my own knowledge, I'm like, I would never really believe you're going to have these experts tell you you're going to tell them what you want and then they're going to go find your perfect person. I don't really necessarily believe that logically, but spiritually, I had preyed on it and I really believed that whoever this person was is my soulmate. It's a bizarre thing, and it's kind of beyond me, but I really believe that. And so that's why when I went on our wedding day, I don't know if you saw, but I had a panic attack because I really went into it knowing that I was very honest. I shared about my upbringing and just what I was looking for, and these experts were really in your home, and so you got to know them, and I was really, really truthful and I was just saying the different things, my deal breakers and what I needed and what I wanted, and if they could actually find someone like that, then I was just a hundred percent into it because it wasn't working out for me.

(31:35)
We

Doug Hehner (31:35):

Also, sorry to cut you off, we also had the luxury of being season one. So we're not tainted by other seasons. This is a brand new show. They don't know what really will be, what will resonate with the audience yet. So they're going to film everything.

Jamie Hehner (31:51):

And so for me, I genuinely believe this person is my soulmate. It must be. And it was more of a spiritual thing than it wasn't like something written on paper, it was just this feeling that I had. And so I thought that there would be at least chemistry on our wedding day, and I wasn't expecting to be in love at first sight. I'm not that naive. And when I saw him and there just was no spark or chemistry or anything, I literally had a panic attack and was like, oh, no, I think I was wrong about that feeling. This actually. And of course people are saying, this is ruining the sanity of marriage. And there was a lot of doubts going on in my head, but needless to say, I remembered the experts whenever I was not necessarily wanting to go through with it. I just remembered the experts.

(32:46)
They weren't at our wedding. And so I just remember them being very authentic and saying that they really believed that this person is a great match for me. And obviously I had never given him a shot. It was going off my feelings. And so I tried to put those at bay and move forward. And so for anyone listening who's going through a difficult time in their relationship or just if they're not in a relationship and they're dating or there's a perfect, it seems like this person's perfect on paper, but but they're not physically attracted to the person. I mean, wasn't when I first saw my husband either. And I think it takes you opening your mind and really evaluating what do you want? Do you want rainbows and butterflies and sparks and chemistry 24 7 because that's not going to last anyways. Or do you want a really good partner, someone who will love you and stand by you consistently, someone who can make you laugh, someone who you can trust, someone who you can count on.

(33:41)
I mean, these are the things that I was aching for and that's what the experts that I got. And so I'm like, I wasn't feeling the sparks right then immediately, but I was like, let me just try to keep my mind open and try to figure out what this person, why did they match him for me? But for you listening, if you have, I feel like there's always someone who's like, everyone tells me he's so good, but I just don't want to give him a chance because I'm just really not into him. Maybe listen to your friends and maybe give that person a chance because you just never know. And if whoever is giving you that butterfly feeling and it's always just not worked out, maybe try going with someone where you can develop the butterfly feeling because we developed it and so it can happen. And that definitely lasts longer from my experience anyways, than the initial spark in chemistry and then trying to maintain that.

Doug Hehner (34:37):

I think that the dating world nowadays with apps, and there's so many options, Jamie and I, if we were to meet at a bar or meet somewhere, I don't know if we would've stayed together or even had a connection. I don't think it would've happened. We didn't have the luxury of just saying no because we both believed in marriage and really wanted it to work and wanted to give each other a chance and wanted to give the experiment a hundred percent of what we had because we didn't want to waste the opportunity. And so I could kind of see how, just not to disagree with you, but the fact that we were married kept us together.

Jamie Hehner (35:22):

I mean, that is true

Doug Hehner (35:23):

Nowadays when you have so many options out there or think you have so many options out there, you don't have the luxury of sticking it out or you don't have the piece of paper, you're not locked into anything.

Jamie Hehner (35:37):

And also you don't know that the other person's locked in either. And so then there's this sense of doubt, I feel like in your partner, whereas we were both locked in, it was

Doug Hehner (35:46):

A perfect storm of weirdness, that promise.

Joey Odom (35:51):

So Jamie, I love that advice you gave for kind of going into it and looking at the things that will sustain you. And it's not, again, this is why I think you all did have some definite advantage that you weren't reliant on things that were so temporary, that are so short-lived that you could instead look at here's who the core of this person is. What about for the couple who is married, who has made that choice, but they're going through that difficult season right now that they're 4, 5, 6, 14, 15, 16, however many years married. What is that thing that you have learned and you were talking to that person at coffee right now. What's the thing that you would say to them,

Jamie Hehner (36:30):

This is what happened for me. Anyways, so we've only been married 10 years in a couple months, so that's almost 10 years,

Joey Odom (36:37):

10 years this year.

Jamie Hehner (36:39):

So that feels good. So we're still, in all intents and purposes, I mean, you've been married 20 years, that's double the amount of time. So you have far more experience. So I'm not coming on here like, oh, lemme tell you how, certainly not that, but you have

Joey Odom (36:51):

A bunch of wisdom to this.

Jamie Hehner (36:54):

You do. But from my experience, obviously with my history with my mom being a drug addict, and that really ruined, my mom was a great mom before the drugs took over. And so I could see that that drugs ruined our family. It absolutely ruined my mom. My mom is a different person now than she was prior to those drugs. I just wanted nothing to do with drugs. And so fast forward, I married Douglas Haer who has a history of drug addiction. I had no idea. And he of course is only slowly leaking the information to me because he knows that I don't want anything to do with drugs or drug addicts. B, he knows his last relationship dissolved because of this drug addiction that he has. So now we are nine years married when my husband, I mean we're like, I don't know, a year and a half married before I find out about the pill popping. Is that

Doug Hehner (37:53):

Right? To the extent of it, I told you on our honeymoon, but I told you that I had

Jamie Hehner (38:00):

Addiction. She had dabbled in it basically that I had

Doug Hehner (38:02):

Addiction issues in the past,

Jamie Hehner (38:04):

But also I really thought that it was at a party and you just took some, not that I think that's okay or cool or anything, but I had no idea the extent of it. And even in this interview, I feel like you still kind of, and it's okay, and I get that it's hard to be able to share that. But the extent of it was actually far worse than then he lets on because who wants to? So then I find out about that a little bit, and then I find out about the extent that I thought was that he would actually take it from his grandpa and he was hiding things and stealing. And so that was a lot. But I felt like we kind of broke through a barrier because I was like, at that point I loved him and I don't know. And so come to be nine years married.

(38:50)
So this was literally just last year, a couple months ago really, he was telling me how he almost died. I mean, it was far worse than I had ever imagined. And I instantly, even as we, I mean he told me on our podcast, so I had zero time to even digest. And that just happens to be our, we don't have deep conversations unless we're in a car, but now we have kids, so that doesn't really happen anymore or on our podcast because we don't the chance to just sit with each other. We don't have help per se. And so needless to say, he tells me about the extent of this addiction nine years into our marriage. And I remember just being like, wow, I could be really angry and just want to divorce you because I disclosed some really deep, dark secrets that I was very ashamed of and embarrassed about very early on.

(39:45)
I felt he deserved the right to know that he's my spouse, he's my partner. There should be no secrets in marriage. I felt like I've respected him enough to share my deepest darkest secrets very early on because I wanted him to know that from me and for him to wait nine years to tell me the full extent of this addiction. I was like, wow, I kind of feel duped. You didn't respect me enough. We weren't strong enough all these other times, all these other opportunities that you could have shared this with me. But it's almost like, God, truly I have to give all the glory to God because this is not who I am by nature. I'm human. And so quickly I could just think how I was duped and you wronged me and I'm out. But it's like, God, just help me see a different perspective.

(40:35)
And this is where I would want to be able to talk to someone who in a long-term relationship may be struggling. Because if someone hides something from you for that long, instead of thinking about yourself and how you feel duped and disrespected and you deserved better, what about that person who you love? Why did it take them so long to tell you that what were the circumstances? And instead of feeling duped and disrespected, I should feel honored and that he finally feels comfortable enough with me to share his deepest, darkest secrets and know that I'm not just going to up and leave him, that I'm going to be there for him. I'm going to stand by his side. I'm going to support him.

Doug Hehner (41:16):

You were pretty amazing.

Jamie Hehner (41:17):

That was truly all God though, because I swear

Doug Hehner (41:20):

And I wouldn't have blamed you either. I'm not proud of that by any means. I know it's hard for me to talk and put everything out there, and it's even stuff that I would hide for myself just not wanting to touch on those things. And she approached it in such a way where I really felt connected more so than ever.

Jamie Hehner (41:49):

And so getting emotional, but the other thing I would say is that if you've been going through a struggle in your marriage and you're however long in, it doesn't even really matter. It could be 10 years, it could be one year, it could be 20 years. Truly try your best to stick it out with that person. There's a reason that you're with them and that you've lasted however long you have

Doug Hehner (42:09):

Seek therapy.

Jamie Hehner (42:10):

Therapy is of course, truly number one. It really is. But also if you're able to stick it out with that person and try to see from their perspective, not just your own. And when you do that and you find there's usually a solution to the problem, I mean aside from being abused, I think that that's a great reason to escape a

Doug Hehner (42:36):

Relationship or cheated on

Jamie Hehner (42:37):

Absolutely abuse. But if you know your person is good at their core and they're just doing the bad wrong things that you're not happy with, try to stick it out. Try to help them try to be their partner. That is the idea of marriage and unions is being, I mean when we say for sickness or health, for better or worse, whatever happened to the worst or the sickness, we got to stick it out. And when you get to the other side, your love, I'm telling you, I've never loved this man more than I do right now. I mean truly. And the same would be said, and it's been 10 years and I know this, but I could tell you at that nine year mark, I wasn't sure. So when you stick it out though, that love becomes stronger and stronger. And that's how I think that the people who last many, many decades, it's because they know that secret. And it takes going through all these hard times to be able to figure that secret out. And we are fortunate or unfortunate to have gone through all these issues already. So we've kind of experienced it maybe a little earlier in our marriage. But yeah, that's what I would say. Wow,

Joey Odom (43:47):

That idea that you just gave, which is when you're going through difficulty, instead of thinking about that as the end, that may be just the precursor to the next level to you leveling up. You have to go through that. Any little video, dumb video game we played growing up, you had to beat the enemy at the end of the level to level up. Wow, that's beautiful. Alright, do you guys have Henley Grace, who's six? You got Hendricks Douglas who's three. And one thing on every parent's mind is how are we managing technology in the home? Of course, that's what we're all about. I'd love a tidbit or two, I didn't prep you for this one, but a tidbit or two on how you're managing technology at your home and how you see that evolving as you move forward.

Doug Hehner (44:27):

So just so other parents hear this, we were terrible at managing technology in the home and I think more so than many other couples, our work is on our phone, creating content is on our phone, responding to social media is on our phone. And as much as we try to be present and in the moment, there's this sort of unwritten luxury of plopping your kid in front of a TV or in front of a screen knowing you have at least 10 to 30, 40 minutes of yourself. And we had a conversation last year when you were on our podcast, which really gave me some great ideas that we've already implemented into our home, which is creating sacred times and sacred places for technology. So now we leave our phones places, whether it's in the car when we go to the park or always at dinnertime, we don't open our phones or bring our phones to dinnertime.

(45:46)
And one of the things that I had mentioned to you the last time that we spoke last year was I was on my phone and my daughter was trying to get my attention and she had to ask me four or five times come over and put her hand on my phone for me to listen. And I caught myself doing the same thing and getting frustrated with her because she was watching TV and I kept calling Henley, Henley, Henley and standing in front of the TV and I realized that I taught her that habit. I was the reason for that. What's the difference between me stepping in front of her vision to her, putting her hand on my phone? And so it's just be mindful of, and really like you say, be intentionally present with what you're doing and find spaces that there's a time and place for technology.

(46:39)
With Florida, being in Florida, we have the luxury of being able to go outside and do things and do it often. The rub there though was that even when we would go outside and play on the playground, I would still have my phone. Jamie would still have her phone, but instead of both being at the same time on our phones when we have to be, it's got to be a trade off. One of us is present with the kids while the other does their thing and then vice versa, but be there for your kids at their most impressionable years. And that was eyeopening for me when I made that realization that I'm teaching my daughter bad habits and the reason why she's staring and ignoring, it's the same thing that I was doing. So just as soon as you start to think that way, it becomes so much easier.

(47:39)
It also becomes a habit where you put, I've noticed that I would leave my phone in the car. I've never done that before. Because you have a fear of saying, well, what if there's an important text message? And these are things that can wait. It's not as important as being there for your family and being with the people around you. And it does change the way that you interact and it does change the way that your kids will interact with you. I mean, now they ask me to go outside with them and push them on the tree swing before it's like, dad, can I watch YouTube? Dad? Can I put on something on Disney or something there? Now can we go outside? And I attribute that really to me putting my phone away and Jamie putting her phone away when we go play with them outside, so it's not just a distraction. So we're getting better at managing technology.

Joey Odom (48:36):

Yeah. Well, encouragement to you and maybe anybody listening this whole, we find ourselves in these, oh, I know I should be better. I should be better. And the should I found doesn't really ever help. It's only when you see it as, I have a great opportunity to do this or I can do this. All of us are struggling with it no matter how old our kids are, we're all struggling with this. It's a thing that draws us in so we can give ourselves grace. And I love the way you're looking at it now is what a cool opportunity I have to really savor the moments with them. And of course I'm going to have to do things on my phone. That's what our phone is a tool for productivity. And so I love to see the journey you're on. Alright, this is amazing, guys. Where can people, if they're not already listening to you, if they're not already following you, where can they go do that?

Doug Hehner (49:22):

So our podcast is Hot Marriage, cool parents, and then Jamie and I are both on Instagram. It's at Doug Haner and Jamie's handle is at Jamie n Otis.

Joey Odom (49:34):

We'll put all this in the show notes as well. And I believe you talked through, I think it's episode 1 49, where you all go into the story and your addiction. If people want to hear that, it's wonderful. I really would encourage people to go back and listen. You guys really do open up and you're so authentic, so very, very grateful for that. And the encouragement it requires, it takes a toll on you, I'm sure, but it gives encouragement to others

Doug Hehner (49:53):

For sure. Yeah, but you do what you have to do.

Joey Odom (49:57):

I'm telling you, you two are an inspiration. The way that you are being so real, so authentic, showing warts and all and talking about all the stuff that you have gone through and encouraging and then turning that into the encouragement, not as being here's, I'm a victim of this circumstance, but saying, here's what I went through. Here's what we overcame and here's how you can overcome it. I'm grateful for everything that you all are doing and the inspiration you're giving to couples and individuals. So thank you very, very much for giving that to us today and for doing it on your podcast as well. Well,

Jamie Hehner (50:29):

Thank you. Thank you, Joey. It was so good talking with you. And thanks again for that intro. I felt like, wow, you really know us

Joey Odom (50:37):

Well, you guys make it easy to know you, and thank you for doing that. So very, very grateful, and thank you for coming on the show today. Awesome. Thank you,

Jamie Hehner (50:44):

Joey. Thanks again.

Joey Odom (50:46):

I know a lot of the Heiner story. There were some extreme moments there. There were some moments of real difficulty, frankly, that situations that I hadn't been through difficulty that I hope I would've done well in, but I just haven't been through to know it. But I still in those, even though I didn't relate and I hadn't been in those exact situations, I could see myself in their story in the reconciling differences with your spouse and overcoming difficult things. There's such an encouragement and it takes a lot of bravery for them to talk about those things. I know, and when Doug was talking about his addiction problem in the past, that's not an easy thing to talk about, but they do talk about, I know Doug and Jamie personally. They do that to encourage others to give us the confidence to go talk about, expose those things that we're struggling with and really overcome them.

(51:32)
And again, like we said at the beginning, to look back with gratitude on those things. So thank you for listening. Thank you to Doug and Jamie and I want to remind you again of your challenge this week. Go look for those cues to put down your phone and be fully present, the person across the table from you. Thank you so much for joining us this week on The Aro Podcast. We can't wait to see you again next week. The Aro Podcast is produced and edited by the team at Palm Tree Pod Co. Special thanks to Emily Miles for video and digital support, and to our executive producer Aro's own, Katelyn Farley.