Published: 5 years ago

Jen Hatmaker Ruined My Marriage

Gather ’round children: I’m about to spin a tale that exposes the seedy underbelly of hip 70’s kids evangelicalism. For the last several weeks, husbands everywhere have been laid bare to a terror so insidious, so awful, so freakishly terrible, that I can’t bear to tell it.

But tell it I must, because you must know. And knowing is half the battle.

My wife is a fangirl of one Jennifer Hatmaker. If you’re not familiar with this ringleader of Christian OnlineMamaCulture, Mrs. Hatmaker authors a blog that is followed by roughy 9 billion of the 3.5 billion women on the planet. She’s a gifted speaker. She’s into adoption. She’s a pastor’s wife. And according to my wife, SHE’S SO FUNNY. Many a night I will be sitting in my chair in the living room, minding my own business, when I hear a snort of laughter explode from behind my bride’s laptop.

“You…” she wheezes, “You just have to read Jen Hatmaker’s blog today. SHE IS SO FUNNY.”

Never mind the fact that also author a blog and have been called funny on occasion and am actually sitting in the same room with her and am the one person that she repeated marital vows to 21 years ago. But after six years of writing said blog, I’m 96% positive that (a) my wife has never read it or (b) possibly even knows that it exists. Oh sure: she links to the Hatmaker blog on Facebook and she tells all her friends about the Hatmaker blog and if she weren’t so afraid of needles she would have quotes from the Hatmaker blog translated into Hebrew and inked onto her forearms because little Miss Hatmaker is SO FUNNY.

Not that I’m bitter.

But friends, this is not about me. This is about the aforementioned person who is SO FUNNY. Several months ago Jen (she and Merriem…they’re on a first name basis) announced that HGTV had selected their family to be the stars of a new reality show that would feature a renovation of a century old farmhouse in Buda, Texas. The name of the show is My Big Phat Hilariously Funny Farmhouse Renovation That Will Tick Off Husbands Everywhereor something like that. There are only eight episodes, but to my spousal brain this may as well have been CSI: Buda because in my heart of hearts I knew it would never, ever, ever end.


The reason Jen’s announcement set off all sorts of alarms in my brain is that I knew what lay ahead: my wife would become immediately engrossed in the development of the show and the renovation of the farmhouse, cozying up to the TV with her bag of popcorn every Thursday night at 11 PM (let’s not even address the fact that she never knew 11:00 came twice a day before this evil show appeared) and before I knew it, she would have grand plans for us to buy a farmhouse and us to do a renovation and us to live happily ever after while the credits rolled and our family said the blessing around our vintage 1918 handcrafted farm table made from reclaimed wood we found in the loft of a barn off the side of the interstate.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Never mind the fact that changing an air filter is a major accomplishment for me that is always followed by high fives and maybe a trip to Starbucks. Never mind the fact that we have not one, not two, but three ceiling fans sitting in our garage, still in the boxes from when we bought our house two years ago, because I am deathly afraid of any home improvement project that involves anything more than a phillips screwdriver and a staple gun. Never mind that we almost have to go through marriage counseling when it comes time to detangle Christmas lights. Never mind all of that stuff, because Mrs.-SO-FUNNY!-Wonder-Woman-Whom-We’ve-Never-Met has convinced my bride through the power of reality TV that we can do it! 

Jen’s husband Brandon is a motorcycle riding, goatee sporting pastor who is handy with tools (we have one of four things in common). As I watch him chisel down a fireplace and sand down a door frame and install a fireman’s pole for his daughter so she can slide down from her loft bed that he slapped together in twelve minutes, I realize that it is indeed possible to loathe someone for no good reason. And all the while Merriem watches Jen who is wearing an adorable scarf and squealing with childlike delight over the fact that OH MY GOSH Y’ALL WE JUST FOUND AN ATTIC FAN IN THE ATTIC AND I KNOW JUST THE PLACE FOR IT!

(Hey Jen, how about in the attic? That thing was buried under a blanket of dehydrated rodent jerky. Let it rest in peace. Just a thought.)

Every week, multiple times during each episode, I hear “Danny, we have to do this!” I remind Merriem that I don’t own a chisel. “But look at how CUTE that is!” And I remind her that it won’t look that way for us. “But my daddy could help you!” And I remind her that he still distrusts me as a man because I don’t habitually use synthetic oil in my ten year old car.

She tells me it’s adorable. I tell her it’s hard work.

She tells me they’re saving a lot of money by doing it themselves. I tell her they have a renovation budget because Jen has lots of blog sponsors and income-producing books that are SO FUNNY.

She tells me it’s not as bad as I think it would be. I tell her about divorce court.

I put in my earbuds. She snaps her fingers and yells “I know you can hear me. LOOK AT THAT CUTE PAINT COLOR!”

I try to go to bed. She makes me watch it on DVR the next night.

I secretly wish that if Jen were going to be on a reality show, it would be as a special guest on Shark Week, but without a protective cage, if you get my feeding frenzy drift. The Holy Spirit whispers to my heart how very, very wrong that is.

The final episode airs this Thursday night, and I know my beloved will be both ready to see the final product and grieved that it’s all over. I, for one, will be thrilled that this terrifying chapter of American evangelical reality television will be behind us.

At the end of the day, I know that we won’t buy a farmhouse. I know that the biggest renovation that will happen this year is that I might get around to painting the mailbox post. I also know that somehow I’ll find a way to screw that up and there will be a praying mantis permanently entombed in the dried paint, looking like a very skinny, bulbous-eyed Han Solo.

Jen Hatmaker, if you ever stumble across this post, I want you to know that I wish you no ill will. You bring great joy to my wife. She lives vicariously through your style (“I LURVE her style!”). She wants to be like you when she grows up. As for me, I’ve actually read and linked to your blog on occasion, and it is indeed SO FUNNY. Your end-of-the-school-year post from a while back is still one of the best things Merriem ever made me read. I don’t despise you. I just despise the nightmare that my Thursday nights have become, and all of the misery points back to your totes adorbs farmhouse.

Tell Brandon I said ‘sup, and that attic fan ended up lookin’ really good.


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  1. Kimber says:

    My husband feels your pain. I lurve Jen Hatmaker too, and it makes me all stabby when people tweet about her like their her friends… because how could THEY be when I am…
    However, I haven’t watched her show {live} because my husband retreats to our bedroom {because I ain’t watching that crap} and then makes me feel all guilty for watching it when I should be in bed watching him {snore}. Or something like that. {Marital commitments etc} I pretty much am not allowed to watch any home reno show or really HGTV at all because my husband isn’t totally sure what a phillips screwdriver is and how it relates to our house.
    So yeah. Gotta go. Gotta make an appointment with a Christian marriage counselor now.

  2. Jess H says:

    …And then little Miss Jen tweeted your blog and wives everywhere handed their husbands devices saying “you have to read this Danny Franks post it is SO FUNNY” because it is.

  3. Sarah says:

    I laughed just as hard as I do over Jen’s blog! (Does your wife do that too? Refer to her by first name only, as if actual friends?) Thanks for sharing your side.

  4. Keri says:

    You said you don’t do home renovation but you nailed it Mr. Franks! Thanks for the laugh! LOVED THIS.

  5. Rachel L. says:

    Getting a tattoo of a Jen Hatmaker blog quote translated into Hebrew sounds like…a GREAT IDEA!! Thanks for the suggestion, and the hilarious blog post. I will say that MY husband loves to watch My Big Family Reno with me, and we are both sad to watch the final episodes this week. But we also both know that neither of us will ever attempt any project of that magnitude!

  6. Christine Bi says:

    You nailed this post! It may be as close to a nail gun as you come but hold your head high and marvel at your great work! Made my morning a lot more enjoyable! BRAVO,

  7. Oh my goodness, I laughed so hard at this. I bet there are droves of hubbies everywhere who think the same thing. My beloved loathes when we watch HGTV because it produces the same sort of irrational confidence… “Babe! We can totally install our own countertops. Watch, these ones pop right off…” Cue screws exploding all over the kitchen and my husband promptly looking for the number of our handyman. (My bad, man. My bad.) Jen is indeed hilarious, but so, too, are you, sir.

  8. Wade Oehler says:


  9. Claudia says:

    Giggles to self… He is SO FUNNY!

  10. sheri24601 says:

    I am going to start following you just because of this post!

  11. Karen says:

    Guess as a wife I’m an oddity because I have to say…Jen who?
    Even not knowing this Hatmaker woman, I must say your post is….SO FUNNY!

  12. Megan says:

    Freaking Hilarious. Score.

  13. Rebecca says:

    I just sent this to everyone I know – including my husband who will more than relate. Thanks for this laugh!! Totes adorbs.

  14. Rebecca says:

    PS – Hate to point it out, but saw this because JH retweeted it and thereby directed a ton of traffic to your blog… Crap dang it all, now you owe her too! 😉

  15. Bob says:

    Jen Hatmaker kicked my dog.

  16. Bonnie says:

    And now Brandon just linked to this post. Dang those Hatmakers!

  17. Katie says:

    Mission accomplished. Merriem now reads your blog and is SO proud of her HILARIOUS husband. (Don’t tell my husband I said you were funny. He’s a little sensitive about that too.)

  18. Joy says:

    Danny, have not fear. It’s wives like us that LOVE Jen but we also know our husbands limitations. Like me, I’m sure your wife LURVES her style but deep down knows if she wants her house to look like that ya’ll will need to call Chip & Joanna Gaines (even if you don’t know who they are, your wife will). P.S. You are pretty funny too!

  19. Well done, Danny. Well done 😉

  20. Katie B says:

    Chris made me read this blog because he said it was HILARIOUS and SO FUNNY….and I had just emailed him plans for an under the bed storage thing that I want him to build. Very good, Danny Franks.

  21. Sarah says:


  22. Dottie says:

    I will have to check out her blog because if she is funnier than you she really really must be funny!! Great read!!

  23. Michelle says:

    Okay I’m not even really a Jen Hatmaker fan and yet, this blog post is seriously one of THE FUNNIEST things I have read in forever (that may be because I don’t read her blog…who knows…just take it for the compliment it is.

    • Michelle says:

      Ahhhh! I forgot to close parentheses! My eyes!!!

      • Robyn Eason says:

        Oh Danny, your wittiness never disappoints. Since I have been married for 36+ years I now have compassion on my Wes and keep my love and enthusiasm and ideas for home improvement to myself until just the right time. I do gladly admit to being a home improvement junkie and I am really enjoying the Hatmakers’ show. Dare I admit that it has made me misty more than once? How can your heartstrings not be tugged when a precious child sees their new room for the first time? And that copper wall in the new kitchen! Come on! My sweet husband has learned through the years to just smile at me and assume that something nearby is freshly painted. I too have all the Hatmaker episodes protected on our DVR and plan to share them with him the next time he is sick and couch bound. Until then I am being patient. In all honesty, I have thought about inviting Merriem over for a special occasion and watching all the episodes together (while we eat Magnum Bars of course). As an older woman who wants to speak truth into your life young man, and as the Word says, “As much as is possible, live at peace with all people,” this is my advice. Watch the show, share Merriem’s enthusiasm and if the feeling is just not there, fake it. It’s the manly thing to do.

  24. Lesley says:

    Just wanted to point out that if there are only 3.5 billion women in the world, she couldn’t possibly influence as many as 9 billion….

    • sarah says:

      The 9 billion of 3.5 billion made me laugh so stinkin’ hard!!! Not you?
      Jen Hatmaker is so influential women who don’t even exist follow her blog.
      I immediately forwarded this to my husband. He knows this kind of pain, though my Jens are Tsh of Art of Simple and Grace of Camp Patton (She is SO funny.)

  25. Amy says:

    Absolutely hilarious. You’ve gained a new follower (actually, by the looks of things, probably quite a few.) And although I LOVE Jen H- I’ve never commented on one of her posts…don’t tell her though:)

  26. Susan says:

    I LOVE Jen too!! My husband feels your pain…making you watch the DVR’d espisodes….love it!!!

  27. Randi says:

    Bkess it!

  28. J'net Webb says:

    This cracked me up! I even read it outloud to my husband as he switched between the Cowboys and A&M! He watches with me but I know better than to get any ideas! You wife should be proud, you are funny too!

  29.! My husband and I sat here laughing hysterically at this post! Just last week I saw Jen on HGTV and wanted to know why WE couldn’t get along as well as she and her husband did while tearing apart a 1918 farmhouse!

    BTW, you’re VERY funny ~ you can show this to your bride as proof 🙂

  30. I just watched the show last week as well. I have to say, you are SERIOUSLY funny. SO much so that I can’t wait to come back and read more. Keep up the great work

  31. Rachel Boling says:

    I love love Jen Hatmaker too! And this was a very funny post. If it makes you feel better…you know at least 90% of the home Reno was done by a crew from hgtv hiding in the background that set into high gear once the cameras clicked off. The project lasted many months with lots and lots and lots of professional and probably volunteer helpers. So never fear your painting or ceiling hanging skills …help is just behind the cameras. Alas reality TV has twists and turns :). I too loved the show and have it all recorded bc I couldn’t stay up until 11pm many a night it was on …I’m such a wimp 🙂

  32. Kristi says:

    Someone forwarded me your post and I have died laughing reading it just now! My husband struggles with air filters and light bulbs, so you are not alone :). Hang in there! Better Jen than some of the other tv show options 🙂

  33. I laughed SO hard. You are a scream. Loved this post.

  34. Kelly says:

    YOU are so funny! Thanks for the laugh.

  35. Teresa says:

    And now, the Nester from Nesting place has linked to your post, which is why I’m here reading your SO FUNNY words.

  36. Amy Flood says:

    Loved this! Very very funny! Thanks!!

  37. Jen says:

    Just stumbled upon this from The Nester’s blog. So funny! Love Jen Hatmaker, and how cool that Brandon left a comment!

  38. Zack says:

    This is great Danny.

    Steph told me about this post and I was all like “sucker! Score one for Zack and not having cable!”

    And then I was standing there at work and I get “card not present transaction” email from my credit card company and see that Steph bought the whole season from Amazon video on demand.

    We watched the whole thing in 2 nights.

    The Hatmakers are still living out of their back porch however many weeks into the renovation and Steph is like, “We could totally do that.” And I’m like “How many of their children are under 6 years old? Because WE HAVE FOUR and the wouldn’t do well with fires and space heaters everywhere.”

    BTW – what’s the link for Summit marriage counseling again?

    (Oh, and I thought you were exaggerating a bit about Jen’s fame – and then I clicked your link over to her blog. Good God. Half a million shares on some of those posts.)

  39. Christy says:

    Hilarious! Was looking for the reference to the wedding in Maine when I ran across this…I do love Jen too 🙂

  40. Brandon and Jen are clearly really down to earth people who can laugh with you just as much. We go to their church, and they really are just regular folks. Gotta love that they are willing to share and post on your blog… I will say you could go do some of those free classes at Home Depot and become an overnight renovation guru yourself…. It will go well with you in the long run. And would make GREAT blog fodder. “What I learned to fix today” …. Always make yourself more attractive to your spouse, I bet she’d find you sexy in a tool belt HA!!

  41. Jane Rattray says:

    I loved this post. I made my daughter and son-in-law buy each episode while I was visiting them so we could have a “farmhouse” marathon. I’m sure my husband was at home snickering that he dodged that bullet. I think your blog is incredibly entertaining and I know what you mean about spouses and blogs.

  42. Meaghan says:

    My husband says ‘Sup. He, too found your blog post SO FUNNY. 🙂

  43. Diane Fredrick says:

    Denny Franks….. you are also SO FUNNY!!

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