Love is in the air at HGTV — and on the air, too. Ever since the network struck gold with Chip and Joanna Gaines’ “Fixer Upper,” which first aired in 2013, the network has launched multiple design and renovation shows starring married couples whom viewers have also fallen in love with. So far, only one of the popular pairings has unraveled, with former “Flip or Flop” stars Christina Hall and Tarek El Moussa divorcing in 2018, but both have since remarried and have new shows featuring their new spouses.
Co-working is a stressful proposition for most couples, according to a 2022 nationwide survey by Roborock and Pollfish, which examined the impact of so many couples having to work from home due to the COVID pandemic. Of those who still do, 60% said they regularly get into arguments over one anothers’ workspaces and work habits, with 20% admitting they’ve considered breaking up over the stresses of working together at home.
It can be a strain on the relationship when a couple adds in the pressure of being in the public eye and working on the same renovation projects, like HGTV’s hosts do. But the network’s most famous couples say they’ve found ways to balance love and work while filming their TV shows. Here are insights from five of those couples on how they make it work.
Erin & Ben Napier Recommend Patience and Romance Each Day
One of HGTV’s most beloved couples, “Home Town” stars Erin and Ben Napier, have been married since 2008 and are raising two little girls — five-year-old Helen and 19-month-old Mae — in Laurel, Mississippi. In a January 2022 interview with Access Hollywood, the college sweethearts said patience and romance have been critical to their marriage, especially once they became parents.
“Boy, it’s busy,” Erin Napier admitted. “It just takes time and finding your footing and your rhythm, and I feel like we’re getting there.”
As for keeping romance alive, she said, “You just should always remember the people you were when you met, what were you so crazy about? We never give up on that.”
It doesn’t hurt, of course, that her husband is a tried-and-true romantic who types up love notes for her each morning and, per her Instagram post on February 12, 2023, has begun cooking gourmet meals to enjoy after the girls have gone to bed.
In 2020, she told People magazine, “Every day he’s up before me, and he writes me a letter. It’s a short one, but it’s a letter. And since I don’t do coffee, I drink Coke, he’s got one waiting.”
Egypt Sherrod and Mike Jackson Schedule Date Days to ‘Keep the Flame There’
The stars of “Married to Real Estate,” Egypt Sherrod and Mike Jackson, have been married since 2010, raising three girls in Atlanta — 11-year-old Kendall, four-year-old Harper, and Mike’s daughter from a previous relationship, 21-year-old Simone.
The often-flirty couple credit their staying power with finding little ways to keep their romance alive, being authentic on and off camera, and also making time for each other away from work.
“We have to remind ourselves all the time that it can’t always just be about work,” Jackson told Blavity in a February 13 interview. “It can’t just be about us always being parents. So we have date days where we continue to keep the flame there, because if that’s not there, then everything else seems to dissipate, and we don’t want that to happen. So for us, it’s more so about making sure we prioritize the right things at the right time and make sure things are scheduled properly, the communication is there, and make it all gel and listen.”
Sherrod told Blavity they no longer try to balance lots of things, but prioritize the most important ones instead.
“At this point, everything is basically together as a couple,” she said. “We use the word balance a lot, but there are some things in life that should just not be balanced. They should be prioritized. So our family is always a priority. Our relationship, this marriage is always a priority. So we’re not balancing it. Everything else comes around that. And if it doesn’t, we adjust.”
Dave & Jenny Marrs Say They Cherish Being Able to Lean On Each Other
“Fixer to Fabulous” stars Jenny and Dave Marrs married in 2005 and are raising their five kids on a farm in Bentonville, Arkansas. They told Pop Culture in 2021 that they appreciate the ability to lean on each other through the ups and downs of making a TV show.
“I think for us, it’s nice to have each other to understand what our day is like and to have the other person who really gets what we’re doing,” Jenny shared. “So for us, it’s nice that we work together because it’d be really hard to do this on our own without the other person and having long days, and just really understanding the stress and all of that.”
Dave agreed, adding, “Working together with Jenny, we actually understand the demand that it takes. And so it works for us. I don’t know, it’s weird to work with your best friend and then go home and talk about the same projects, and with kids, and so Jenny and I are together so much, but it’s great. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Keith Bynum & Evan Thomas Say Working Together is the ‘Best Thing’ for Their Relationship
Engaged in 2017, “Bargain Block” hosts Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas told People magazine in 2022 that they’ve been too busy to get married. After living in Colorado for several years, they moved, sight unseen, to Detroit the same year they got engaged to start giving new life to dilapidated homes, sleeping in each one as they finished it. In fact, during their first season of “Bargain Block,” they were still sleeping on the floors of the houses they were renovating.
In 2022, Keith told Pride Source, “There were times when it was very hard and Evan and I banded together and we just worked through it. I learned that I’m far more resilient than I ever knew.”
The year before, he told the outlet that working together so closely brought them together as a couple.
He said, “This has been one of the best experiences because you really get to know somebody in this type of environment. It’s about finding a respectful balance.”
Brian & Mika Kleinschmidt Say They Focus on Having Fun
“100 Day Dream House” hosts Brian and Mika Kleinschmidt met in high school, but didn’t connect romantically until over a decade later, in 2011. They were married in 2015 and are raising Mika’s nearly 14-year-old daughter from a past relationship, in Tampa, Florida.
In 2021, the Kleinschmidts told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that they design and build about 22 homes per year together, most of which HGTV viewers don’t get to see. And though they get requests from all over North America to build homes in other areas, they don’t think expanding would be the best thing for their marriage.
“We’re not looking to build 500 houses a year,” Mika said. “It’s all about finding a good work-life balance.”
Brian told the paper that to stay grounded, they remind themselves “every day that this should be fun. We enjoy every step of the process, and as soon as we lose sight of that, we have to remember why we’re doing it. It can become stressful, but we do love what we’re doing.”