Wifey 101: Everything I Got Wrong After Finding Mr. Right


Jamie Otis eBook Large

WIFEY 101:
With Dibs Baer

For my siblings and my husband—the most important people in my life.


Fate is the optimal combination of choice and chance, said someone nobody’s ever heard of on one of those inspirational Instagram memes.
My fate was decided the day I agreed to a scientifically arranged, legally binding blind marriage to Doug Hehner that was documented on television and then broadcast all over the world.
“How could you marry a complete stranger?”
That’s the most common question I get from fans, friends, journalists, trolls—even my own family. It’s a fair question. What kind of a person would do such a crazy thing?
A loser?
A fame whore?
A gold digger?
A lunatic?
All of the above?
In my case, the correct answer is none of the above. From the moment I was born I found myself in unusual circumstances and situations, sort of like a female, redneck version of Forrest Gump. The same can be said for the way I found myself a husband. The situation pretty much fell in my lap and I was at a place in my life where I craved love, happiness, and family.
I’m impulsive so I went with it. I’m also the type of person who just says it like it is. I’m brutally honest. And the truth is, I had a childhood rife with abuse, poverty, and neglect, so I craved the maternal hand-holding the panel of TV experts would provide on the show. Because of the abuse and neglect, all but one of my previous relationships were pretty much a disaster. I needed serious help if I ever wanted to have a long-term, healthy relationship. I wasn’t looking for a fairy-tale family. I just wanted to be part of a family that was loving, stable, and consistent. I’ve never had that. I wanted it more than anything in the world.
I married Doug for better or worse and, believe it or not, I meant it with all of my heart. A lot of critics think the way I chose to be married makes a mockery of marriage. I couldn’t disagree more. The divorce rate in this country still stands around 50 percent. If anything, my thought going into my scientifically arranged marriage was, “Hey, what we’re doing isn’t working, why not try something else?”
When I agreed to be blindly paired with a husband, I had nothing to lose. I desperately wanted it to work and I still do. I think my biggest mistake was not thinking through or realizing how ill-equipped I was to be a life partner with anyone when I signed on the dotted line. I didn’t have the time or luxury of working out my immediate past or previous relationships before walking down the aisle. I truly was in over my head.
If I wanted my marriage to last, I had to learn how to be a good wife and even better in-law quickly and efficiently. If you’ve followed me on my journey then you know I’ve been less than perfect. But I hope my foibles are helpful, relatable, even inspiring. Though my marriage is unconventional (that’s putting it lightly!), what I’m going through is no different than what all married couples go through—everything from silly fights over the toilet seat up or down to more serious issues like keeping deep, dark secrets from each other. You may think you’ve seen everything there is to know about Doug and me on TV, but there’s a lot that we’ve kept private.
The only difference between “normal” newlyweds and me is that I had to go through all of this stuff at warp speed and make it better lickety-split while married to a complete stranger. And I’m on TV for the world to see and judge. I’ve written Wifey 101 because the majority of comments I get on social media (yes, I read them all) are about comparing notes and commiserating about the art of marriage. Am I an expert? God, no. My marriage and I are both a work in progress. But I hope this helps anyone else out there who is also fumbling along trying to get it right when everything seems to be going wrong.
Here’s to happily ever afters!
—Jamie Otis


Men have been an enigma to me since the day I was born. Literally. The space on my birth certificate where it says “Father” is blank.
I was in first grade when I came home from school and heard the biggest news of my short life—I was finally going to meet the man who was my daddy. I remember the day so vividly. I walked into our trailer and saw Momma at the end of the long, thin hallway, folding laundry thrown on top of the dryer. As I walked toward her, stepping over mountains of dirty clothes, she spotted me, and her eyes lit up.
“Jamie, you need to go to the doctors again,” she said excitedly. “We’re gonna get your blood drawn for another paternity test! I just know he has to be the one. There’s nobody else it could be.”
I was only six years old, but this would be my fourth paternity test. It didn’t matter. I was ecstatic. Let’s call him Henry. Mom said I looked just like him—he had dark brown hair and blue-green eyes, just like me. She was so certain he was my father, she sent him my most recent school photo. I was wearing a blue and white top with tiny colorful flowers on it. My bangs were brushed perfectly over my forehead and I smiled shyly for the camera. She said I looked “real pretty” in that picture and she just knew as soon as we met I would become the “apple of his eye.” I didn’t really know what “apple of his eye” meant but it sounded like a good thing and I couldn’t wait to meet him.
Usually men aren’t exactly thrilled to hear they may have a random child—hello, Maury Povich anyone?—but Henry invited Mom and I over right away. None of the other three possible baby daddies wanted to meet me at all so I was certain this was a good sign. I dreamt about what my life would be like if Henry was my father. My mom had a different last name than I did and I was embarrassed about it. She just randomly gave me the last name of Otis, from a guy she was legally married to but separated from by the time I was born.
Would I take Henry’s last name? Would I go to his place for Christmas and the other holidays? Would we eat dinner together like a real family? I smiled ear to ear at the thought of becoming a normal kid with two parents. I wanted a paved driveway and an American flag in my front yard so bad. Henry could make that happen. I’d have a daddy to come to my teacher conferences and chorus concerts. A daddy to sign the blank line meant for the “father signature” on report cards and permission slips. A daddy to show my schoolwork and art projects. I was born on Father’s Day and now I would have a real one to make a gift for. I was always the only kid in class who wrote “Mom” on my Father’s Day gifts.
My picture-perfect daydream turned to sheer panic when my mom and I drove over to Henry’s. What if he didn’t think I was as pretty as Mom thought I was in the picture? What if I wasn’t nice enough? Although I was young, I was very familiar with the feeling of being inadequate. I’d already felt the devastating sting of rejection three times.
As Mom pulled in the driveway, I saw Henry’s rickety white trailer sitting on a hill of weeds and overgrown grass. A couple of kids ran around in the backyard and I wondered if they were my siblings. We walked past two overflowing garbage cans and climbed up the small wooden stairs that led up to the front door. Mom knocked twice.
“Come on in!” a loud, gruff voice yelled. I grabbed Mom’s hand and we walked through the door. Henry was sitting in a recliner in front of the TV, wearing a plain, blue one-pocket T-shirt covering his big ol’ belly and smiling sweetly. He reminded me of Santa Claus. If Santa Claus had wicked-rotten teeth.
He wasn’t exactly the Prince Charming (or Santa Claus) I’d envisioned, but I pushed that thought away.
I had so many things I’d planned on saying, but Mom did all of the talking. I stood shyly holding onto her leg, peeking out from behind her to scope out the house. The kitchen table was cluttered, and I imagined myself clearing a spot, so I could sit there and color. Mom and Henry shared a couple laughs…and that was it. After a few minutes, we were already on our way home. I never even said boo to him. As we were driving back, I was confused and upset that the visit was so short and I didn’t even get to talk to my daddy. I sat in the backseat looking out the window, wondering if I’d ever get to go back. Would Henry even want to see me again? Did he hope I was his daughter, like I hoped he was my father?
A few days later Mom got a call from Henry. I sat anxiously waiting to hear what he was saying. Mom hung up and told me Henry really believed I was his child and was really excited to have me join his family! He even shared my school photo with his mother, explaining that he may have another daughter. When Henry’s mother saw my photo, she told him there was no question whether or not I belonged to their family because I looked just like him when he was a kid. I was over the moon. Not only did I have a real dad, but he and my new family would welcome me with open arms and hearts.
There was only one more hurdle before my Leave It to Beaver fantasy came to fruition. I needed to take that paternity test.
And Momma was excited, too. She would finally stop being hounded by social services about finding my father for child support so they didn’t have to give us so many food stamps. Mom was really embarrassed about that. I remember her saying, “Don’t ever tell anybody about this, this doesn’t make me look good.”
Embarrassment went out the window when it came to a welfare check. So, a week after I met Henry, Mom took me to the medical office to get my blood drawn again for the fourth time. I wasn’t scared at all. I was used to the quick little prick that felt like a bee sting. I knew it wouldn’t hurt for long. As the nurse placed the tourniquet on my arm, Mom reached out to hold my hand. She rubbed my fingers and whispered in my ear, “This is it. This is the last one. We have finally found your father.”
The test came back negative.
To say I was shattered would be the understatement of the century. I remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom, elbows on my knees, head in my hands, tears streaming down my face. I felt bitter, lonely, and worst of all, unwanted. As I sat there confused and crying, I begged my mom to remember anyone else who could be my father.
“Why don’t I have a daddy who loves me?” I sobbed.
Mom had always been able to pull another option out of her hat. This time, when she realized it would be impossible to console me, she offered an explanation that didn’t make sense to me at the time because I was so young. “I was drunk. It was late. I can remember his face in the mirror, but I just cannot remember his name.”
Over the years, more details of the true story of how I was conceived would slip out. Okay, true is a strong word. Let’s just say, true to my mom. Here’s what I’ve been able to cobble together:
It was September 1985, in Mom’s hometown of Freeville, New York, about 200 miles north of New York City. In the fall, “upstate” is spectacular; the air is fresh and crisp and the countryside has beautiful rolling hills with bright yellow and orange foliage. Mom was only twenty years old but she already had a one-year-old baby, my sister Johanna, father also unknown. Mom was shy and just a bit overweight and she always struggled with feeling unworthy and unaccepted, but her stepsister Sherry was a hot number, the life of the party. Mom loved hanging out with Sherry and hosting wild all-night card parties in her cozy, two-bedroom trailer. The long, grey piece of tin was in line with approximately 30 similar trailers, each sitting on cinder blocks, side by side in a loop. Trailers are notorious for having leaky ceilings, holes in the floors, and paper-thin walls. It wasn’t uncommon to hear your neighbors arguing. Later in life these thin walls would prove to be life saving.
This particular night, Sherry came over to the trailer with a case of beer, Mom’s favorite Seagram’s wine coolers, pot, cocaine, and two men. One was Sherry’s new boyfriend, the other guy—tall, dark and not very handsome, Mom recalled—she’d never met before.
As Joh slept in her playpen, propped up against the living room wall, Mom, Sherry and the guys played cards, got drunk, and got high. Mom told me she’d never tried drugs before at that point but Sherry assured her it was really fun and would help her relax. Something about my mom’s story already seemed suspect, especially when she said she turned down the coke because Joh was in the room.
The group partied until the sun came up, and the booze and drugs ran out. Tired and out of it, Mom changed into her nighty and went to the bathroom to get ready to go to sleep. She thought everyone left. “I began to brush my teeth,” she said. “When I looked up in the mirror, I saw him standing there behind me. That’s all I remember. I must have blacked out.”
It took me becoming an adult before I fully understood the gravity of what my mom might have been trying to tell me: I was the product of a rape. When I flat out asked her, she said quietly, “I don’t know.” One clue leads me to believe it was: Did Mom ever ask Sherry how to get in contact with this guy? Surely, Sherry would remember his name. But Mom said she never asked. How did Mom have fun with this guy all night, remember what he looked like, and still not know his name? It didn’t make any sense to me then and definitely doesn’t now.
Hearing a shortened version of this story when I was a small kid just brought another bout of painful tears. The feeling of rejection and being unloved overtook me. I don’t know why, since this man didn’t necessarily even know I was alive, but that didn’t stop me from experiencing soul-crushing heartache. I’d bragged to Johanna, “Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah, I have a dad”—my older sister was always bullying me—and it was like finally, I have one up on her. I couldn’t even think about facing her now.
I cried so hard I shook uncontrollably and got the hiccups. Mom pulled me onto her lap and started rocking me. She wiped my tears away and began combing her fingers through my hair. I was so thankful to have my mommy. I knew she loved me. I felt protected by her.
“Will you always be there for me?” I asked her. “Will you always be my mommy?”
“Baby girl,” she answered, “after you were born I took one look at you and knew I was going to love you and keep you forever.”
That was an odd thing to say. Why wouldn’t my mom “keep” me? More on this later…
“You have a stepdaddy,” she then reminded me. “He loves you.”
Right, my stepfather Hank – not his real name. I nodded my head in agreement, because I didn’t want my mom to love me less if I disagreed. The truth was, I was terrified of Hank and pretty much every other male in the first decade of my life. Men went from being mysterious to monsters. Here’s why: Five years after I was born, my mom married Hank, a son of a cop and, frankly, a son of a bitch. He drank too much and smoked weed and was always in trouble with the law. But my mom couldn’t resist his dark curls and hazel eyes and she really liked the fact that he “accepted” Joh, my younger sister AmyLynn (father also unknown until she turned sixteen), and me as his own. Plus, Mom got pregnant with twins Dale jr and Leah, so they tied the knot in front of a justice of the peace with a couple family members present and moved into a new trailer in Beacon View.
We did not have a good life with Hank as our “daddy.”
As I sit here and write this I am trying to think of any fond memories I have of Hank. Honestly, I can only think of one. He was watching the news one night and I crawled up onto his lap and put my head on his chest. I could hear his breathing and his heart beating, so I tried matching my breaths with his but he was breathing so slowly I had to take extra breaths. That was the only time I cuddled with Hank and felt safe. Beyond that, I never felt comfortable or settled in his presence. I don’t remember him showing any interest in us, ever playing with us, or teaching us anything. But Mom swears he was a good father, at least a better father than a husband.
My most vivid memory of Hank was him sitting at the kitchen table smoking cigarettes and bossing us kids around like a drill sergeant. He made us do the same chores over and over again. Vacuuming, picking up toys, laundry, sweeping, mopping. One time he made me rewash the dishes for hours because I didn’t wash them the right way the first time.
The worst memory of Hank was him punching and beating the snot out of my mom and nearly killing her.
Hank was a garbage man at one point but he never had a steady job. Whenever he wasn’t working, which was a lot, he drank all day long—he always had a can of Budweiser in his hand. And whenever he drank, that’s when all hell broke loose.
For example, one summer night, I woke up to the shrill screeches of Mom and Hank fighting. Joh and I snuck down the hallway and when we got to the bathroom, we saw Hank standing on top of my mom on the bathroom floor, his giant hands pushing her neck against the edge of the bathroom tub. Her face was purple. She was lying there limp, as if she’d given up. She wasn’t trying to wiggle herself loose from him or kick or fight back. Instantly I knew what was happening. He was trying to choke her to death. My heart pounding, I ran away terrified. But Joh went right in there and punched her tiny fists into his big back, yelling as loud as she could into his ear, “Leave my mommy alone!” Hank suddenly let go of Mom’s neck and turned toward Joh, who ran for her life. As he chased after her through the trailer, Mom snapped out of her trance and screamed for us to hide in her room. Everything after that is a blur to me. Eventually the police showed up and took Hank to jail.
Usually when they were fighting, my mom always went to us for protection because he never beat us. I did get painful spankings when he found out I was a bed-wetter. He despised me wetting the bed. Every time I wet the bed he would grab me, throw me over his knee and begin smacking his hand or a belt or a spatula or a wooden spoon hard on my bottom. “Come here!” he’d snarl. “You will not keep wetting the bed!”
I tried my hardest not to wet the bed. I’d lay there, eyes closed tight, repeating a mantra to myself: “Don’t wet the bed. Don’t wet the bed. Wake up to pee! Wake up to pee!” It was no use though. I’d still wake up in the middle of the night or the next day with a sodden mattress and sheets. I would silently cry and try to figure out a way to hide it from Hank. I eventually came up with what I thought was a genius plan. When I wet the bed I would just make it as if nothing happened. Then I’d stuff my pajamas at the very bottom of the dirty laundry basket so he wouldn’t see them, feel them, or smell them. It didn’t take Hank long to catch on. One morning, I was watching cartoons in the living room when I heard him scream, “Jamie!” I knew instantly I was in big trouble. I walked down the hallways and saw him holding up my dirty, urine-soaked PJs.
“What’s this?” he sneered with the coldest, meanest eyes.
“I don’t know.” Wrong answer. Tears streamed down my face.
“You tried to hide this, huh? You’re going to learn!”
I slowly backed away, saying, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to!” But he had zero sympathy. He took my arm and yanked me down the hallway, carrying my pajamas in his other hand. He took me right out through the living room in front of my sisters and brother, took off his belt, lay me over his knees, and beat my bottom until it was covered in red welts. With each hit I would yell for mercy, but he just kept lashing away.
“This is what you get for trying to hide,” he said. “You’re going to learn to stop acting like a two-year-old!”
So, yes, Hank spanked me, and one time he threw my sister out into the snow by her arm and dislocated her shoulder. But my mom got it way worse. This was normal life for my family: Hank getting drunk, beating my mom, the police hauling him off to the can. Mom rarely pressed charges and, after he’d calmed down behind bars, we’d go visit Hank in jail during visiting hours—get all dressed up in our best clothes and bring snacks and books to the man who almost just murdered our mother.
“I’m so sorry,” he’d cry, crocodile tears struggling to squeeze out of his eyeballs. “I didn’t mean it. You guys are my everything. You are my whole world.”
Hank never stayed in jail too long and the time that he was away was like the equivalent of a vacation in Jamaica. But we knew he’d come around again, it was like the never-ending, impending doom of a hurricane. So we kids cherished the happier, calm times we had alone with Mom. Joh and I would always follow her into the bathroom, hang out in there and chitchat, even when she was pooping. Eventually, Mom would drop the bomb (not that bomb, ew).
“You know Daddy is getting out of jail soon,” she’d say. “Do you want him to come back and live with us again?”
“No!” we’d beg. “Please, Mom, don’t let him live with us!”
Surprise, she always ended up letting him live with us. On some level, I understand why. She was afraid that if Hank left she’d be alone with five children to feed. Mom didn’t seem to have much support from family. I remember she told me that she felt like the “black sheep” of the family because she had gotten pregnant with us kids out of wedlock. That was highly frowned upon. With little support from family I guess it’s understandable why she’d go to the one man who “loved” her so much regardless of the mistakes she’d made.
I remember after Hank would get sprung, he’d come home with a big smile, teeth yellowed from chew and cigarettes. I despised that smile. I knew it wouldn’t be long before it’d turn into a vicious evil frown and he’d go on an angry rampage. He also cheated on my mom. There were so many nights when Hank would go out drinking and Mom would sit home furious.
“I just know he’s cheating on me with another girl,” she’d fret. “I’m no dummy!”
She became obsessed with the idea of “catching him in the act.” We became her PI assistants. Didn’t matter if it was 2 a.m. or in the middle of a blinding snowstorm, we were gonna go hunt down Daddy. We’d throw our coats on over our pajamas and climb into our station wagon, cold, confused, and exhausted. One time, Mom drove to every bar in the area until she saw his rusty truck parked at a local dive that looked like a barn. As she skidded into the parking lot, the light of the neon signs burned our sleepy eyes. Mom put the wagon in park and left it running so the heat could stay on for us kids while she went inside to catch our daddy. She swung the bar door open, loud music wafted out into the chilly night air, and she stormed in to confront him. I was petrified for her. Hank would no doubt be drunk and God help her if he was in a dark mood. I sat in the backseat shaking from the cold and my nerves, staring at the bar door, praying she would come out alive. Eventually she did come out. With Hank screaming and hollering right behind her. Mom would climb in the car with her face wet from crying.
Of course, the jerks who cheat always accuse their partners of cheating and Hank was no exception to that rule. One night, during a brief period when my mom had kicked him out, he came around wasted to terrorize us all.
“Whore!” he hollered in our front yard for the whole trailer park to hear. Then he pounded on the door, demanding my mother let him in to see “my kids.” What a joke.
“You have no right to see the kids until you’re sober!” she shouted. “Come back when you’re not drunk or I’ll call the police!”
This only made him more irate.
“Cop-caller!” he roared. He was always calling her a “cop-caller,” like it was an insult.
Hank threw his whole body into the flimsy door and it busted open.
“I’m taking my kids!”
Joh and I hid in the hallway watching Mom and Hank scream at the top of their lungs at one another. He accused her of sleeping around on him. Hank tried stomping down the hall to the twins’ bedroom but my mom threw herself in front of him. She always tried protecting us from his violence. He tried to shove her away but she wouldn’t budge. That’s when he grabbed his shotgun.
“I’m going to fucking kill you!” He stormed into the living room and put the barrel on the wall. On the other side was the twins’ room. “I am going to fucking kill everyone!”
Mom ran over to Hank and pushed the gun away from the wall. He held the gun up to her head and cocked the shotgun. All of us—Mom, Joh, AmyLynn, even the baby twins—wailed hysterically. “I’ll fucking kill you!” he spit. “You know I will!”
Before Hank could shoot all of us dead, our neighbors quietly broke into the trailer and carried the babies out the back door. Then they bravely snuck back in to escort the rest of us out. Someone called 911, I have no idea who. The police arrived and confiscated Hank’s weapons, and he was hauled off to jail yet again. I watched through the neighbors’ window blinds as the officers cuffed him and threw him in the cop car – the blue and red lights flashing through the window. When he turned his head toward the trailers, I was scared to death he’d see me. I ducked down low to hide from him. The siren and lights faded away and I finally felt safe. Thank God it was over. This time.
Sometimes Mom would pretend that she was done with Hank and go on dates with other guys. Terrible idea for everyone involved. Like poor, unsuspecting Larry. Actually, Larry wasn’t such a rube. He had two teardrop tattoos under his eye and cherries on his arm with the words, “I got my cherries, where are yours?” I remember asking him what it meant and he asked if I had my cherries. Anyway, Larry took all of us to the county fair one night while Hank was in jail. After he bought us all the sweet cotton candy and rides we could dream of, Mom let him in on her little secret.
“I heard Hank got outta jail early,” she told a stunned Larry. “I’m scared if he did he’s gonna come looking for us.” Then she turned to us kids. “Let me know if you see Daddy because he’s not going to be happy we’re here with Larry.”
We were on the top of the Ferris wheel when, sure enough, we spotted Hank, fresh out of jail. Mom panicked. “As soon as the Ferris wheel stops, get out and run to the car!” she whispered. “Your daddy is here and he is real mad.” I was so sad we had to leave the fair but I also knew things were about to get really ugly if we didn’t hightail it out of there. As soon as the Ferris wheel stopped, we walked as fast as we could to our car without Hank spotting us. But, just like in a horror movie, as we were pulling out of the field, a big car came speeding up behind us. It was Hank. Clearly he was drunk. He was riding the rear of our car, bumping into it and honking his horn like a lunatic. He was trying to get my mom to pull over. Mom knew if she pulled over, he would try to fight Larry or worse. She sped up but Hank drove on the wrong side of the road, got right next to us, and tried to ram us off the road. Then Mom and Hank both slammed on the brakes at the same time. Hank ran up to our car, climbed up on the hood, and pulled out a knife.
“Be a man!” he shouted at Larry, pounding the windshield. “Face me like a man!” Larry’s cherries shriveled up and he sat there paralyzed with fear.
As soon as Hank got off the hood, Mom quickly sped off and drove right to the police station. She knew that was the only place he wouldn’t follow us. We all just sat there crying, catching our breath. Larry was still speechless. I wasn’t sure if I was happy he didn’t get out and fight, or if I felt like he was a complete loser for not protecting us. Either way, apparently he had no idea what he was getting into when he began dating my mom. That was the end of Larry. And other guys, as long as Hank was around.
Instead of dating new guys, one time while Hank was in the clink, Mom got a teacup poodle named Tiffany for companionship. Well, when Hank came back, he was not pleased about that either. He claimed my mom loved the puppy more than him and, during a drunken rage, right in front of us, threw it across the room into a corner of our TV and the glass mirror behind it. She looked like she broke her neck and was bleeding out of her mouth and nose. The dog lay limp, whimpering in pain. She wasn’t quite dead yet so Hank and his friend tried crushing up some pain pills to feed her. My sister Joh said the SPCA came to mercy kill the dog, but Mom said they were too late. The dog had already died.
Mom finally wised up and, thankfully, mercy killed the marriage. Murdering her dog apparently crossed the line and was the final straw. She packed up the station wagon and just left the trailer to Hank, deserved or not.
If this was a Hollywood movie ending, our family would be rewarded for leaving our mother’s abuser and everything would be swell. We might even end up with a new nice dad and a big house with a kitchen like Anne Hathaway had in The Intern. But if I’m being completely truthful, I can’t say that life got easier after Mom left Hank. In fact, it got worse.

End of Chapter 1 Sample

So, if you’re left wondering “Well, where does your marriage tie into all of this?” then you’ll have to read the rest of my book to find out. Please pre-order Wifey 101: Everything I Got Wrong After Finding Mr. Right now (links below). Also, I’d love it if you could take a moment to leave a review from this snippet I shared with you after you make your preorder. By pre-ordering my book now it ensures you receive your copy during the release week – 6/7/16 (and it gives me a chance to make New York Times Best Seller – which is extremely difficult to do as a self-published author). Thank you SO much in advance.

Wifey 101 is available on Kindle and Amazon for paperback. It will be avail on Nook, iBooks, Kobo and more. Again, thank you so much for your support. I hope when you finish reading my story you are inspired in one way or another. That will make it all worth it.

  1. Hi Jamie…I want to thank you for sharing your childhood story. I grew up this way and even though I am 62 and just had my 25th anniversary I always wish it could have been a normal childhood. My husband is a wonderful, kind man. I do still see a therapist because I have PTSD and my therapist has helped me. I was so upset to hear about your baby. I do believe that you and Doug are going to have a beautiful family and you will both be great parents.You will see Jonathan in Heaven and he will always live in your heart. Tears are God’s gift to us and your grief needs to happen at your pace. Doug is a very special man and will always be there for you. I watched the show from the beginning and was so glad you finally fell in love with him. His family cherishes you and it’s obvious in everything they do.I do have 4 children and 8 grandchildren and they are God’s blessing to me. I loved your book and will buy one and you have a gift of painting a picture with your words. I will keep you, Doug and Jonathan in my prayers and I sincerely believe you and Doug will be parents. You are a very special, strong woman and your book will touch many people who have lived the same way. You write from your heart and you are as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside. May God bless you and Doug with a healthy pregnancy very soon. Sincerely,Paulette

    1. Hi Paulette, Thank you so much for taking the time to share some of your story with me… and thanks SO MUCH for all the love and support. I really appreciate it! xoxo

  2. Hey Jamie my 19th birthday is coming up and I want a autograph copy of your book I am your biggest fan so it would mean the world to me if you give a girl with cerebral palsy a copy of your book

  3. I am so terribly sorry for everything that you have been through, from the beginning of your life. In many ways I identify with you, because of similiar experiences during my childhood.
    I will read your book with a big interest and my prayers go out to you, your Doug, your sweet baby Johnathan and all persons whom have grown up and are, in this moment, growing up under horrible conditions. Watching you and Doug, makes me believe there can be a happy ending for me aswell. xxx

  4. PS, my partners little boy had “no name” listed for the father spot on his birth certificate and my heart breaks for him so much. I feel so selfish and so hurt at the same time, trying to reconcile my future with the idea that I will not get to provide my future husband with his first child and the first feelings that go with that, and the fact that there’s a little boy out there who needs his daddy and needs love too. Life is so weird. I hope I did not minimize your pain talking about mine, I just see them as all different versions of the same pain.

  5. My step dad was the same way Jamie. I am sitting here reading this with tears streaming down my face, trying to figure out if I love the man I’m with because I crave comfort and stability so badly or if I truly love him. We just found out he has a son from a previous relationship, four years old. He had no idea. The purity and beautiful picture of a future that I had planned for us is up in flames and I am so broken over it. I know a child is a blessing, and perhaps if I didn’t have a loser father and a violent step father I would be able to open my heart to this child, but I feel that it’s more of the same. But I didn’t even get a chance to decide if this was something I wanted to deal with. We are already years in, I’m in love and we have plans. And now I can either be as selfless as possible, or leave. And I’ve spent so many years trying to be selfless for my mom and understand that she is not only a mom but a person too. This hurts so much. I just want to come home to sane people who love me and are my people. I’m sorry for your pain. I hope you and Doug have a beautiful life.

  6. Jamie, the first chapter was great. I’m sorry for all the torment that you and your siblings had to endure throughout life. I will be ordering your book very soon. I hope you and Doug have a wonderful life together, you deserve it. May God bless you and your family.

  7. My heart ached for you children. I could hear my heart pounding when Hank would beat up on your mother, and she’d still take him back.
    All if this makes me realize how very glad I was to not have grown up with my own bioligical father. My mother was divorced just months before I was born. I never ached to know him or be held by him, my mother, grandmother and oldest sister took care of us. I might not have been raised by both parents, but I can certainly attest to my distrust in men, and not wanting to settle down with one. So I too, to this day have trust issues! Would like to read your book, so I need to put in my order.
    PS…God kept his baby boy to make sure HE could gift you and Doug a very healthy child. I’m most sorry and I grieve with you two, please find a way to stay together! God is great and I believe you both can make a really good marriage last for a lifetime.

  8. I love reading stories that I can relate to. I have been a fan since the first time I saw married at first sight and to be available to read more about your story is awesome. As a reader I can relate to a lot that of that things you’ve shared is nice to read it then saying it out loud. I was left at two months old by my parents they tried to give me away to someone who had no money to keep me but she was willing to take me in that’s when my grandparents decided to keep me. I had a rough life growing up. Reading pieces of your book has help me in a lot aways to let go of things process From a different prospective. Thank you for sharing your book and your stories with your fans. I loveyour story and hope to be choose so I keep reading away. P.s my daughter is going to study to be an RN. I know it does not related to this but I wanted to share it with you.

  9. I loved the first chapter! I’m sure it has taken a lot of courage to write this and I’m in awe! I’m so inspired by you!

  10. Hey Jamie – from the UK!
    Absolutely LOVE you and Doug! You guys are inspirational! Just over a year ago I felt like I had given up on Love and was suddenly taken ill at work with chest pains. I desperately needed some friends to take me to Hospital and randomly one of my friends boyfriends was free to take me… What I didn’t know at the time was that he was on the way to the pub to meet his best friend for University, a guy called Jamie! Jamie ended up randomly coming with me to hospital in April last year… We are getting married in 7 weeks and I’m so excited!! Fairy tales do exist!

    Separately, I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your baby. I know I don’t personally know you, but I feel like I have a good understanding of your strength of character and I’m sure you and Doug will get through it together. Thinking of you xxx

    And finally – I would love to buy you book! But is it available in England yet?

  11. Jamie, I just want to tell you I’m half way thru your book and I love love love it! I seriously can’t put it down (which is a problem at work, haha) Thank you for being honest and thank you for staying true to you. It has already helped me so much. Like you said we all have secrets and things we are ashamed of but you book is helping me to see that talking about it helps. Keeping it all balled up in me doesn’t help!
    Thanks again,

  12. Jamie!!!! You are an amazing writer! Your childhood is beyond descriptive. You are so inspiring. I can not believe you were raised in such abuse. You are such an amazing person for surviving that. I’m so proud of you! Your raw, real, openness is beyond impressive. I can’t wait to own your book and someday hope to meet you to sign it. Thank you for being so honest about your life. You are helping soooooo many people. You deserve all the best life has to offer. You have accomplished so much. You are a very strong person that I admire. I think you just made me your biggest fan. I wish we lived closer. Thinking of you often. Please please please never stop sharing. You have such a gift. xo xo xo Valerie Landis

  13. Wow! As a child you went through so much and that was just the beginning . Yes, I’m left with what happen next and I will be reading your book. I am sorry for the loss of your baby. Sometimes we don’t know why things happen in our lives. You seem to wounder what did I do to deserve this. But we all have a plan and this is your life and now you have a wounderful husband giving you what you have always desired …love, security, protection. God will bless you with another little bundle of joy and he will heal you heart in this very difficult time. May god bless you and your family +

  14. Thank you Jamie for being so brave and sharing your story. I can’t wait to order your book and continue reading. I admire your strength!

  15. You are incredible. Thank you for sharing your secrets with the world. What a horrible experience, you certainly appear to have overcome this with your head held high. This chapter is very well written. Thank you for sharing

  16. Hi Jamie, I can relate to the tumultuous and dysfunctional childhood you and your siblings had to endure. It’s hard, even now, bc those same issues continue invading my life as an adult who is married and a parent. Dealing with the complete breakdown of communication in my family, there’s never any resolution. My father is the source of all the horrible drama, and was the cause of it everyday of my life (my sisters and mom’s life too) .To this day, the ugliness is always festering. I hate that you had to suffer in silence for so long. You should be proud of yourself for overcoming it all, and making such a good productive,happy life for yourself. I know with Doug and your in laws, you can finally have the family you’ve dreamed of! My husbands family is loving, stable and so good to me. I believe that bc we lacked this loving family as children, that God has given us a 2nd chance with our hubby’s and his family. Love to you from Kentucky!

  17. I’m going to order your book from Amazon so I can continue to learn about your story now that you are sharing it, bravely and confidently for the world to read.
    You’re an amazing, and courageous woman and more importantly you’re truly an inspiration!!

    I try my best to be a good mother to my

  18. I am not trying to be rude or hurt your feelings, but I was not sure that I liked you before now. I got the impression that you were very uppity and I didn’t care for that. I read your blog on losing your baby (I’m sorry to hear about that and you 3 are in my prayers. My mom lost 4 babies before she was able to have my brother and me.). At the end I saw the link for your book. After reading the sample I think I will probably end up purchasing the book. I watched your wedding on TV and the whole first season so it will be neat to read more about that.

  19. Thank you for sharing your story – I know it must have been hard to relive. Your voice is clear and natural and you have a way of making the story easy to follow. It all amounted to a great read. I plan on buying the book and following your journey in your new marriage.

  20. Oh I’m so sorry for your loss. Feel so sad for you. Can’t imagine how you guys are feeling right now. Good thoughts and prayers for you. Lots of love from a fan in Sweden

  21. Hello from Sweden! I have followed you from the start and I really like you and your story is so interesting so I want to read more! So I have ordered the paperbook now.. the shipping to Sweden was almost the same price as the actual book it self but so worth it. I like to read your instagram and your blog and I got sooo glad when I heard that you were finally pregnant!!! Congratulations! I have I son, he is 3 years old and he is the best that have happened to me. You have the best time to look forward to. My life started when I got my son. That’s what I felt. Love Karen from Sweden

  22. Great read! I couldn’t put it down! I’m going to order it! But I’m so sorry for what you and the family had to endure!

  23. Jamie, thank you for sharing your testimony with us. You are brave and strong. You are honest and loving. I believe God uses all things for good. Your childhood experiences will equip you to be the best Mom. You will cherish every moment. You will love and appreciate this gift of life more than most people. You meeting Doug was a divine appointment. God bless you xo

  24. I’m viewing this from more of the other side. My husband grew up much like this, and was always in self destruct mode. I believe he waited for failure to arrive. I have to say, I’ve learned so much more about my relationship with him by watching Doug and your relationship grow and develop…..I must say Doug has been so much better at it then I was. Many times I’ve thrown my arms up and would say, get over it… But thank you for letting me see this from another view. We can’t always choose our families…but we can choose to make things right for ourselves as adults. You are truly blessed, and blessings are not always easily earned…..they are hard work!

  25. I grew up so much like you, it was a painful reminder of my past. However, it was oddly comforting in a way to know my sister and I are not alone in having this kind of traumatic childhood. I know from reading excerpts elsewhere what is coming next, and I’m white knuckling it knowing I’ve also endured the ultimate abuse…it’s gonna be hard to get through that, I’m not going to lie. The difference between us, you overcame it, fighting forward. I have let it nearly consume me. I’m hoping your book will shine some light on how you managed to work through it and aid me a little on what steps I could take. Congratulations on your book, your baby, your husband and all of the success you’ve accumulated. You are inspiring.

  26. I’m quite speechless and don’t understand how someone can be so mean (Hank), but most importantly, how you overcame these bad experiences and became a successful person. You are so strong and so amazing! I don’t ever read books, but I am very tempted to buy your book and continue to read it to the very end.

  27. I am left speechless and hungry for more! This first chapter was amazing, Jamie. I am so proud of you!! I definitely will be buying the book! Good luck.

  28. Jamie, just this one chapter moved me. I cant belive they person you’ve become on the basis of your childhood. You are such a genuine, true person. What a good model you are for others in your situation.

  29. This was amazing. I can’t wait to read the rest. I am so proud and touched by your story. It gives me strength. Thank you x

  30. Wow! I was debating on buying this book since it’s not my typical read but after reading this I most definitely will! I admire the strength and courage it has taken for you to put this out to the public. I have always enjoyed watching you and Doug. I look forward to reading the rest of your book. I’m proud of how far you have come and your ability to rise above adversity! May you always have a wonderful support system for the rest of your life. Congratulations on the pregnancy! Being a mother will be your greatest accomplishment ever, you will be a great mom!

  31. I am so interested after reading your first chapter sample. I had a rough childhood as well and I can relate to some of your experiences. As a mother now, I try and do the opposite of what I learned and be supportive and loving to my children. I also overcame my upbringing and I am now a Kindergarten teacher and have been married for 13 years. Thank you for sharing your story with us. You’re amazing!

  32. I’m a super busy mom and get all my books “read” by listening to them on Audible. Is there any chance you might be putting your book out in an audio version?

    1. Hi Susan,

      You’re right it isn’t available in nook yet. I decided to work with amazon exclusively for preorders and the first week of book sales. It is sold via amazon for both kindle and paperback for launch week then after it will still be exclusively sold on amazon but will also be available on all ebook distributers. (mid June) Thank you! 🙂

  33. You are a great writer while the topic is so hard and you’ve been through so much you write about it well! Can’t wait to read the rest!

  34. Jamie,
    You’re an amazing writer! I know this story is so personal for you and I am so sorry that you had to go through this as a child. No child should ever have to experience what you did, but you have an incredible talent for making the reader feel as if they are right there seeing it with you! You should be so proud of your accomplishments. You became a wonderful, strong woman in spite of your tragic upbringing. I will definitely be ordering your book! I’m such a fan of you and Doug. I pray that you have true peace and a blessed life together.

  35. I have tears in my eyes after reading that first chapter. It is horrifying that anyone ever had to go through that. I’m so sorry for the things you saw and experienced as a child.

  36. This book is leaving me on the edge of my chair to see how it ends. I have to say is you turned out so well Jamie for all you have been through. To me you are remarkably strong and determined. Many would use a poor childhood as an excuse for not doing anything but you are amazingly strong. I think marriage is work even on it’s best day. I have loved watching your journey on MAFS and also on social media. I think you and Doug are doing everything you can to make a strong marriage. So glad you married into such a great family and I love how you and your siblings have maintained great connections. Anything worth doing is worth putting effort into it. I like that you’re in therapy. It really is more for you than for Doug. We’ve all been in therapy at some point in our lives if we are honest. I know I have several times. Love you Jamie and Doug

    1. Thank you for your constant love and support. We couldn’t ask for a better “fan” than you. You’ve really become such a great friend! We love you, Annette! 🙂

  37. I just pre-ordered your book! I can tell by the first chapter that it is going to be an awesome read. Can’t wait to get it! Thank you for sharing your story….May God continue to bless you and Doug and you marriage

  38. Dear Jamie, I feel compelled to write this comment because my wife and I found the whole “Married at first sight” series completely mesmerising. It personally taught me so much about myself and I drew on so much from your growing relationship with Doug. What truly inspiring people you are! It’s so much more than just a TV programme and is sooo much deeper than that. I’d recommend watching the journey you made with Doug to ANYONE who is either in a new relationship or a long term relationship. Well done you and I’m so glad you found happiness. Let no one ever consider any relationship or marriage a cake walk! With very best wishes. John and Victoria, Plymouth UK

  39. Jamie,
    I’d like to start off by saying I’m so glad that you and Doug are still together, it brings a smile to my face knowing that the two of you don’t give up. Secondly, reading the snippet of your book intrigues me so much, but also makes me upset for the childhood you and your siblings dealt with. You are such a strong and empowering woman to so many of us. I’m 23 and I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, but I’m hoping after your book comes out it’ll help me out and realize that I too am not unloveable. Thank you for sharing your life’s journey with all of us. You truly are talented when it comes to writing.

  40. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Reading chapter one brought back some hard times from my past as well. I can relate to a lot of this. a lot of this type of abuse happened in my childhood as well. I went to therapy for 4 years to heal from it. Looking forward to the whole book.

  41. I’m hooked. I can’t wait to read the rest of the book. The first chapter has captured my attention, looking forward to getting my pre-ordered copy.

  42. This reading brought tears to my eyes Jamie. I’m so glad you found a better path and Doug is a part of your journey. I look forward to reading the book in June!

  43. Jamie – just preordered your book. Our childhoods are so similar that it’s unbelievable! I too had gone thru life with a very skewed idea of all men. It took many trial and errors (and a lot of counseling) but I finally got it right! I will be married to my husband 10 years in October. I am 47 and he’s my 4th husband. Good for you trying to do everything to get it right the 1st time! I’m not a creepy stalker just a follower of MAFS from the beginning who really connects to you and your thought process because I have been where you are because of my crappy upbringing too! Would love to e-mail or direct message with you thru Twitter. I know that connecting with others who understood what I had been thru and what I was going thru sure helped me thru some tough times. Hope your book becomes a best seller!

    1. Thanks! Yes, leaning on each other who understand the internal struggles is nice. I think I may start a support group on FaceBook for everyone who has gone through similar situations. So many people judge us and misunderstand us. It’s nice to talk with people who just get it. …thanks again! 🙂 xoxo

  44. I read this first chapter while listening to Andra Day and her song Rise Up came on as I was finishing up. I was already moved by what I was reading it but then this song really illustrated the many things you have overcame and your journey. So inspiring and so moving. I admire your bravery and courage and I will be tweeting at you tonight during MAFS! Thank you for sharing your life with the rest of us.

  45. Wow Jamie! I got tears in my eyes as I read the first chapter of your book. Bless your heart. I didn’t have the best childhood, but it was wonderful compared to yours! I always grew up feeling like my Dad didn’t love me and was jealous of the time my Mom spent with me. I am an only child so it was also very lonely for me growing up, as we had no close neighbors. I spent a lot of time with my Grandfathers and loved them both dearly. I just always wondered why it seemed like my Dad just didn’t want me. I really think he wanted a son. I never got to sit in my Daddy’s lap like most little girls do. So I think I started searching for love at an early age and that is not a good thing! Thankfully, I was not allowed to date until the age of 16 because I wound up pregnant at age 17! My Mom had never discussed sex with me, so of course I didn’t know a thing about protection and the fact that you are most fertile 2 weeks after your period! That guy that I felt I was so in love with was a jerk and wanted nothing to do with a baby. In fact he wanted me to have an abortion! I told him NO WAY! I would never kill a baby! It was very hard at the age of 18, knowing nothing about raising babies, but I was determined that I would love and take care of my baby. Then my Mom dropped the bomb on me that she would be moving into a small travel trailer with my Dad in another city while he finished school and she started school. I was really freaked out because I had no idea how I would be able to support my baby as I had no job at the time. So I wound up married to my ex husband on the rebound from my first love and father of my baby because I was scared! He offered to take care of both of us and I dreamed it would be the house, white picket fence, swing set in the backyard, kids running and playing, dogs running with them. You know the happily ever after story! NOT! My ex husband would up having to go to jail 4 months after we got married for selling drugs before we even got together! My baby and I wound up living with his family which was a very dysfunctional family for 8 months! Then as soon as he got out of jail (that very day) he chose drugs over me and my son! Wow! Let’s just say the only thing good I got out of that 14 years that I stayed is my second baby whom I also adore. That marriage lasted years longer than I should have stayed because I thought I was doing what was best for the kids. However, it turned out to be worse for the kids. I then went through several other relationships one that was 10 years long (longer than it should have been) all failures. Now I am 54 years old, my children are grown and I am single. The Lord has shown me how to be happy with myself which is something I was never able to do before. I was always searching for a man that would love me to feel complete. I have learned finally after all these years thanks to the Lord that I do not need to have a man in my life to feel complete. I have chosen now to hand my life over to the Lord and let him choose someone for me if I am ever to be in a happy relationship. I do a lousy job of choosing and I know if he chooses it will be the perfect person for me because he knows me better than anyone. I feel he is still working on me though because gosh knows I’m a work in progress! I am so glad that I got to read your first chapter and get a better understanding of you and what you have been through. Thank you so much for sharing that with me! Therapy is good but my advice to you would be talk to the Lord and ask him to heal you mentally from the hurt and put your life in his hands. He will work wonders in your life if you let him! Doug is a blessing! After all the years of hurt and abuse you finally have a man who loves you and is willing to do anything to have you in his life. I really think he is in it for all the right reasons and I think if you let him he will love you for the rest of his life. I can’t wait to see the two of you with babies! His parents will make awesome Grandparents too! I can’t wait to watch Married at First Sight tonight!

    Much love!

  46. Wow! Brought tears to my eyes how all of you had to see all this abuse. No child or person should have to go through this. I’m anxious to read the rest of your book. So happy to see that you all of you have normal lives now. Blessing Jamie, to a bright and beautiful future.

  47. I really enjoyed reading chapter one of your book, so much I have downloaded the book to my phone. I am sorry you had such a hard life, but so glad you have Douglas and you have made it this far. Keep working hard and keep up all the good work.

  48. I just pre-ordered your book! After reading the first chapter my heart aches for you as a little girl. You truly are a VERY strong woman to overcome all the obstacles you have! Can’t wait to read your book!!!

  49. This story is courageous and raw. This story unfolds across our nation everyday. It is traumatic and causes years of suffering for those involved. Today my hope is that you heal from this trauma and live in recovery and healing. My motto is : Speak your souls truth even if it hurts sometimes. Therapy and a great support system helped me through my difficult times. My you experience abundant happiness as you continue to heal.

  50. Wow. I can’t even begin to imagine what you went through. I hope you know just how brave you are for speaking out about this, and for going on to accomplish what you have done and will do in the future.

    Just know that what you’ve been through, it wasn’t your fault.


  51. I cannot wait to read this book! My husband and I have been watching you and Doug from the beginning and hearing your story has just broken our hearts. This book will help so many people who are in similar situations! Counting down the days until it’s released! Congrats Jamie!!

  52. Already pre-ordered and can’t wait to read it!! Especially after reading chapter1 sample! You are an amazing, strong, beautiful woman! Your bravery amazes me!!

  53. Wow! You sure didn’t waste any time letting the reader in on the unbelievably dark, sad, and troubling childhood we’ve heard bits and pieces of as MAFS fans.
    The descriptions of these tragic life events, kept me on the edge of my seat. I can’t wait to read more. My heart broke for Jamie – as no child deserves to witness such violence at such a young age. As a public school teacher, I know how hard it is for young children to overcome this life. I became such a huge Jamie Otis fan as I learned of her story of triump over this life, and this first chapter gave me more insight into how hard it must have been to dig, claw and fight her way out of this cycle. Can’t wait for more!

  54. After reading that I’m already on the edge of my seat! I feel horrible for all of the kids involved and I’m glad everyone eventually made it out.

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