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Austin, TX 78704
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In a matter of days, I will walk down the aisle to say, “I do.” From what I have heard, the actual walk itself is a once-in-a-lifetime experience with the chance to look into the eyes of those who are closest to you. And the final sweet step is to stand by your partner’s side. My husband-to-be is David. Since we became engaged on New Year’s Day, people have asked how we met. I will share that story here along with some insights about dating and relationships.

A book brought us together—and not one about dating. (I had read many!)  Surprisingly, my latest, Almost Anorexic, which I co-wrote with clinical psychologist Jennifer J. Thomas forged our relationship. Or maybe I should give the credit to Dr. Thomas’s expert clinical skills instead.

After many years of leading cognitive-behavioral therapy groups for women struggling with eating disorders, Dr. Thomas began to believe that a similar format might actually help some of her single girlfriends (like me) in their dating struggles. So, after one book writing session at her home in Boston, she held an impromptu, informal “Match.com party,” which essentially meant the main objective was “exposure therapy,” as she says, to encourage her single friends to create online dating profiles. Knowing that clear-cut evidence is important in encouraging people to take action, Dr. Thomas invited those who had successfully met their significant others via online dating to share their stories.

I didn’t quite know what I was getting into that evening (see my original Facebook post about the Match.com party), but by the end of the event, I had charged $63.93 to my credit card and my online profile was ready-to-go, paid up for three months.

Unlike times before, I made a commitment to approach this round of dating differently. To start, I worked on changing my attitude. Rather than using my standard, sarcastic online dating site password of “whattheheck,” I opted for “Iluvdating.” I didn’t really love dating, but I did believe in “fake it ’til you make it.” In addition to shifting my attitude, I began to be more selective about what I wanted in a partner. Dr. Thomas’s husband, in particular, encouraged me to be “picky.” In the past, I’ll admit that my criteria weren’t too high; I would go out on a first date with nearly anyone. (e.g. Is he breathing?) I had frequently dated a man’s potential rather than his reality. That doesn’t work for obvious reasons. Further, this time around, I committed to putting some effort toward the whole process. I had signed up for online dating sites in the past, but in some of those instance, I had rarely, if ever, actually logged in!

Just a few short weeks after that night in Boston, David sent me a message. His words caught my eye, because he was confident, full of joy, and he also showed a genuine interest in getting to know me. Rather than the all-too-common online approach of “Hey babe – You’re cute. What’s up?” it was clear that David had taken the time to read my profile and wanted to get to know me as a whole person.

Even though we were definitely interested in one another, we almost never met for a couple reasons. First, we were both so busy that available days and times didn’t align easily. We had each been single for so long that we had filled up our lives with favorite activities and treasured friends—not leaving much time for a significant other. To ultimately get together, we would both have to make adjustments in our personal schedules. This is still true today. Another reason why we almost never connected face-to-face is due to my default maneuver of cancelling dates at the last minute. Just as I was preparing my excuse to get out of our date (I was exhausted from traveling), I heard a voice inside say, “Jenni, go! This guys just might be your husband.” To be clear, this wasn’t an audible voice, but it was my intuition, which I believe is my connection to God. And so I went.

From the time of our first meeting, something was quite different about David—in a great way. He listened. He asked questions. He was grounded. Most of all, there was no more guessing. Does he like me? What is he thinking? The song we chose for our first dance, When the Right One Comes Along, says it all. This heartfelt song was co-written by one of my best friends, Georgia Middleman, who will perform it live as David and I dance, for the first time, as a married couple this Saturday, October 12. That just happens to be Columbus Day. Christopher Columbus stepped foot into a new world, and so will we!

That was the best $63.93 I’ve ever spent, opening the door to what is sure to be one of the best adventures of my life. As I begin this exciting journey, I would love to hear from you. Do you have words of wisdom regarding marriage or the wedding itself? I am even open to hearing tips on how to not trip while walking down the aisle. You don’t need to be married to share your insights. We all can learn from one another in regard to navigating relationships.

Your comments here will serve as a beautiful wedding gift. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

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  • Michael Elmer

    This is really awesome!!! I’m glad you found a guy that is so interested in you, and that it was your book that brought the two of you together. Really, that is really exciting 🙂

    I wish the best for both of you. You’ve been through so much and have done so much thus far in life, Jenni, and I can’t wait to see what more comes from your marriage!

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Thanks for your comment, Michael. I expect lots of great things and much writing to come from my marriage. Eric is okay with me writing about him! I have learned that relationships can really promote personal growth. (BTW: No word from my editor yet, but I will keep you posted.)

      • Michael Elmer

        Finding people that will allow you to write about them is pretty tough. I’ve found that I need to re-name those who have professional positions because they fear that their clients will be able to identify them. How have you dealt with this?
        I was also looking into self-publishing my blog at some point. Would I be able to send you a free copy? It’d be a pleasure if I could. I don’t anticipate that will happen for at least another few months. I gotta make it through Brookhaven, Partial and the IOP and possibly wait a little while to see where I can get. But it’d be an honor for you to accept this gift when it’s ready.

        And, hopefully there is good news from your editor. God… making it into your book somehow. THAT would make me feel good for once 🙂

        • Jenni Schaefer

          Please send me a copy! Thanks so much. Email or regular mail is great: PO Box 40806, Austin, TX 78704. As far as renaming people in books, I always ask for permission before using a real name in a book. For the most part, I find that people don’t mind my using their real names. On another note, keep fighting in your recovery, Michael. You are working so hard…such an inspiration.

          • Michael Elmer

            I’m not going to die 🙂 My heart disease is under control and I’m medically cleared for Brookhaven. They’ll probably have to treat my electrolyte problem as well as the edema, but I’m going to live the best life I can. I’m going to live alive. I’m going to love and be loved one day, and it will make my whole life worth it. And that is worth fighting for 🙂

  • Heather Strosser

    I am so glad you guys found each other! I love to see two awesome people who deserve each other get together. I have known Eric a long time, and probably could have known you too, as my dad is your neighbor. It really is a very small world! 🙂 I really enjoyed getting to know you that night in February at ABW as well as reading your blog, and look forward to more fun times. We will be visiting our parents this weekend, so maybe we’ll run into you. If not, we wish you the best in your brand new adventure!
    We’ve been married for 11 years next month, and the best advice I can offer is to keep the big picture in mind. Always remember how you felt the day you saw him at the altar, waiting for you, and visualize how you’ll be sitting on the porch in rockers together when you’re old. Those two images are the most helpful when you feel discouraged.

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Heather, it is so great to hear from you! Such a small world…huh? I love what you said about remembering how Eric looks at the alter waiting for me. It makes me tear up just thinking about it! He’s such an amazing guy. The image of rockers is great, too. I hope to see you again soon! Thanks for reading my blog. Appreciate your support.

  • Amy Schaller

    Regarding walking down the aisle (which I did almost 30 years ago with my best friend), I remember those church doors opening and seeing my “future* husband standing there, waiting for me, and thinking, “this will be the last time I am without him”. The next time I will be without him, or him without me, will be when we are separated by death. As morbid as that might seem, it was an awesome and exciting thought; that we would never be apart. Now his thought, as those same doors opened and he looked up that same aisle was “it’s an angel”.

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Thanks for sharing your amazing thoughts, Amy. It is so interesting to hear all of the different perspectives regarding seeing each other for the first time during the wedding ceremony. I will let you know what my first thought is later!

  • Shannon Cutts

    Hi Jenni – your post really resonates. Over the years I’ve had many folks say to me, “Well, you should join this-or-that club or take up such-and-so hobby” and I would always think to myself, “But I don’t really want to do those things – so how could that ever form the basis of a lasting partnership?” So I love love love that you met Eric doing what you loved and what felt right for you in your life. I love that intuition factored so strongly into your path towards one another – one of my favorite books is called “The Unmistakable Touch of Grace” by Cheryl Richardson and she talks about how we probably receive hints and nudges all the time but they only help if we notice. Have a WONDERFUL wedding and honeymoon – congrats to you both! Hugs- Shannon

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Thanks, Shannon! Appreciate the book recommendation. I will check it out. I remember that intuitive moment so clearly: when I heard the message, “Go out with this man!” I am very glad that I listened. I can’t wait for your book about love to be available. For those of you who don’t know about Shannon’s new book, check out: http://shannoncutts.com/loveandfeathersreviews/

      • Shannon Cutts

        Thanks Jenni! Pearl is my own “little man” – love with wings and certainly a fab template to use to pick my human mate when the time comes! 🙂

  • Caitlyn Moore

    I am so incredibly happy for you Jenni! You are so amazing and I hope you guys live happily ever after! CONGRATS! 🙂

  • Jennifer Thomas

    Jenni, I’m delighted to have been part of the impromptu match.com party that led you to meeting Eric! I’m honored that you trusted me and took the plunge despite previous unsuccessful online dating attempts. Just as my colleague, Dr. Luana Marques, tells her patients (and friends) sometimes you have to get “comfortably uncomfortable” to go after what you really want. Enjoy your walk down the aisle. 🙂

  • Melanie Aldis Figaro

    Ok um…tears! What a moving and romantic story. Who knew a hubby could be so inexpensive :). Before you walk down the aisle spend a moment with just you, breathing, getting connected, and present for one of the most amazing experiences ever! Like everyone says it flies by, and I sure wish I would have slowed down a little to treasure it.

  • Ashley Rushdi

    I too am in recovery from an eating disorder, AND met my sweet husband (of 4 months) online! 🙂 I’m so happy for you Jenni, and can’t wait for you to be able to also experience wedded bliss! Thank you so much for sharing your love story, and for all of the great motivation and uplifting words that you are always sharing! You deserve every happiness, and I’m really glad that it appears that you’ve found it! 🙂

  • Reba Sloan

    Jenni – so very happy for you. It was great to meet Eric this summer. He seems wonderful! You deserve the very best, so does he. Think you both won. I have known you a long time and I am so grateful to have been able to observe your growth and see you recvoered. Kev and I have been married 37 years. Try to out-serve and out-love one another. Pray with and for each other. Keep God at the heart and core of you marriage. I will be thinking of you and praying for you on Oct. 12th!

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Thanks, Reba! I shared what you said with Eric: “Try to out-serve and out-love one another.” That is very wise. We look forward to seeing you again…hopefully soon!

  • Ruth Leitman

    So happy for you Jenni! Wishing you & Eric a happy life together. And you will have that becuase you waiited and worked and recovered and help so many others. My daughter met you in Chicago as she was early in her recovery. She’s on her way and doing well thank you very much. She raised the 3rd highest amount for the NEDA walk a couple weeks ago.

    • Jenni Schaefer

      This is great news, Ruth. Tell your daughter congrats!

  • Jackie Duke

    My 14 yr old grand daughter has an ED. I hope that seeing u so succesful will help her in her struggles.

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Thanks for sharing, Jackie. I am so sorry to hear that your daughter is struggling. Connecting with others in the recovery process is certainly very helpful. I never would have gotten better without people who walked the walk before me saying, “You can do it, too!”

  • Jenni Schaefer

    Thanks to everyone for all of your well wishes here. One month later, I can say that I am happily married! Our wedding and honeymoon were incredible. I will be sure to post pictures and blog about it later. I really appreciate all of your support along the dating highway. It feels so nice to have found my home— finally!