"We obviously didn't want to hurt anyone," Mackenzie confessed. Sure enough, after striking up a secret relationship with her fiancé's father, nothing would ever be the same. Here's her story...
Happily Ever After
25-Year-old Mackenzie and 61-year-old Jeff are happier than ever. After 1 failed engagement and 1 failed marriage, respectively, the two have finally found their other halves. The only problem? The way they first met.
If the story had gone to plan, Mackenzie would have been married by now... to Jeff's son. As we now know, though, fate had other plans. So where did it all go wrong? From meeting as soon-to-be in-laws to striking up a secret romance, here's their unbelievable journey to finding love.
Decades before Mackenzie Yocum's love life propped her at the head of national headlines, her reality looked very different. Raised by strict parents, the sheltered girl grew up under a tight set of rules and lessons. But perhaps the most important one?
"My parents taught me how to be self-reliable," the Dixon, Illinois native explained. In other words? She was taught she "can make it through anything life throws at her." Little did Mackenzie know, she would truly be put to the test in only a matter of time...
Which brings us to the other half of our story: TJ Scholl. Back in 2009, as the Illinois native stepped foot inside Dixon High School's halls, his life was about to be changed in more ways than imaginable. Of course, we're talking about the moment the freshman student crossed paths with another. Any guess who we're referring to?
Of course, Mackenzie Yocum, the free-spirited brunette who caught his eye almost immediately. But the truth was that his sudden new crush felt the exact same: "He's a big kid," she gushed of the charismatic troublemaker she now spent her days with. Perhaps that's why it's no surprise what came next...
They Started Dating
After endless hours spent together behind a desk, Mackenzie Yocum and TJ Scholl had eventually gone from complete strangers to completely smitten with one another. When they weren't in the classroom, they were busy chatting elsewhere. And they soon decided to make things official.
To the naked eye, the high-school sweethearts had fallen head over heels for one another. "How did I get so lucky to call him mine?" Mackenzie gushed on Facebook. She couldn't wait to plan a future with TJ. But as she was about to find out, he was already 10 steps ahead of her...
He Proposed to Her
After 4 blissful years had passed them by, life as Mackenzie knew it was about to be changed - forever. On December 23, 2017, as Kenzie made her way to Francesco's Restaurant for a regular dinner with her boyfriend, the events that soon followed were anything but...
After a romantic evening complete with a candlelit meal, suddenly, TJ got up from the table. What was going on? As her boyfriend began to get down on one knee, Mackenzie's future suddenly flashed before her eyes while he blurted out 4 life-changing words: Will you marry me?
She Said 'Yes'
Of course, the answer was yes! "I'm gonna love you forever and ever, forever and ever, amen," Mackenzie replied, as she wiped away tears from her eyes. For the new fiancé, everything was suddenly falling into place. She was going to spend the rest of her life with the man of her dreams. Or so she thought.
But we're not there just yet. And in the moments that followed, Mackenzie was certain she had it all figured out; Her entire life, suddenly propped before her: "He's going to be the best husband and father ever," she gushed of her soon-to-be-husband. If only she knew…
Mackenzie couldn't wait to make her way down the aisle. Only as she began planning for the big day, she came across a daunting realization: There was so much to plan. Where would she even start? And perhaps more importantly, how was she going to afford the wedding of her dreams?
The truth was that her job at Walmart - along with TJ's as a corn farmer -probably wasn't going to cut it. They'd have to make cutbacks. But would that even be enough? "I don't need a big fancy wedding, but even when you try to go cheap? It's still ridiculous," she confessed of her newfound concerns.
She Fought With His Mom
Unfortunately for the future Mrs., paying the bills soon became the least of her worries. Whether it was the added stress or the adjustments to their new reality, Mackenzie and her future mother-in-law suddenly began to clash. Only the tensions were just starting to heat up…
"After we got engaged… I started fighting with his mother," Kenzie revealed of the events that soon followed. This was supposed to be the happiest time of her life. Instead, she couldn't fight the butterflies now flooding her stomach. What was going on? Was this a sign of what was to come?
They Began To Grow Apart
As the weeks continued to pile on, so did the tensions that filled the Scholl household. First, it was Mackenzie's strain with her fiancé's mother. Then, it was a newfound rift - this time, between herself and the man she was supposed to be marrying.
As Mackenzie put it, "If couples start dating at 16 or young ages, they either grow together or grow apart." Was she looking at the latter? It certainly seemed that way. Those sweet memories she and TJ once shared in those school halls were suddenly becoming a distant memory. And it stung, badly.
Which is where our 3rd party comes into play: Meet Jeffrey Scholl, otherwise known as TJ's proud father. The retired farmer was a family man, a father of 3 with a contagious personality and smile to match; Something that'd soon lead him down a very slippery slope.
While his wife may not have seen eye to eye with her future daughter-in-law, Jeff certainly made up for that. In fact, from the minute he came to meet Mackenzie, he welcomed his son's future bride with open arms. He wanted her to feel at home. And that's exactly what began to happen…
She Began To Confide in Him
Where Mackenzie and Mrs. Scholl continued to drift, the bride and Mr. Scholl only continued to bond. And it wasn't long before Jeff had morphed into her new companion, a shoulder to cry on. "I started to confide in Jeff and ask for advice," Kenzie explained.
Only as Mackenzie continued to sit down with Jeff to talk about his son, their innocent hangouts soon took a sudden turn; Something neither of them saw coming: "That's when we started getting friendly," Kenzie revealed. Perhaps a little too friendly...
They Were Together All the Time
Just like that, morning coffees morphed into late-night chats, questions about TJ turned into questions about the two of them - Mackenzie and Jeff were officially talking all the time. And when they weren't talking? They were already thinking about the next time they would.
The lines between friendship and flirting had suddenly become blurred. And perhaps with good reason. "Jeff was always so welcoming," Mackenzie explained. Was there something more behind their friendly exchanges? It certainly seemed that way. Only things were just getting started...
The Start of Their Affair
As the story goes, months later, suddenly everything had become clear. Their flirty messages had officially been taken up a notch - and there was no going back from what happened next: "The emotional cheating went on for around one year," Mackenzie revealed. And 6 months later? It finally turned physical.
The feelings Mackenzie had found herself feeling were suddenly too much to contain, something she couldn't fight any longer. As for Jeff? Sure enough, he was on the same page as her - about everything. But what now? Where were they supposed to go from here?
Their Family Grew Suspicious
The truth was that they had to do things differently this time around. There was no room for mistakes. After all, their entire families - their futures - were at stake here. And while they had never initially dreamed of crossing such lines, it was too late. There was no going back now.
Unfortunately for Mackenzie and Jeff, it wasn't long before red flags began to emerge. At least where their family was concerned: Mr. Scholl and his future in-law were spending a lot of time together - perhaps too much time, they began to think. What was really going on here?
TJ Broke up With Her
While their family continued to speculate, Mackenzie and TJ only continued to grow apart. But as silence continued to fill their home, it eventually became too much to bear - at least where TJ was concerned; Something Mackenzie was about to find out the hard way...
"He said our relationship wasn't going anywhere, and neither of us were happy," she recalled of the moment he suddenly called it quits on their years-long relationship. "He didn't even seem angry, he wasn't having a tantrum or anything, and he was very calm." Did he know more than he was letting on?
Mackenzie & Jeff Were Caught
Sure enough, by 2018, suddenly, everything had become clear. From her months-long tryst to the mysterious breakup that followed, Mackenzie's latest chapter was about to be met with a brutal wake-up call: She and TJ's father had officially been caught red-handed.
"I heard from someone else that he knew about me and his dad," the former fiancée revealed. And just like that, the Yocum-Scholl household would never be the same again: Mackenzie and Jeff's quest to finding love had officially left devastation in its trail.
Their Family's Reaction
First, it was Jeff's son: "He'd said that he and his dad didn't have a relationship anymore, and he didn't care what his dad was doing," Kenzie confessed. But in the blink of an eye, several others followed suit: Mackenzie and Jeff's family count had officially dropped - drastically.
From Mackenzie's brother to Jeff's daughter, news of their secret romance had officially spread like wildfire. And it burned - badly. Nonetheless, "I do understand because it did hurt a lot of people," Mackenzie confessed, as her closest friends and family continued to drop like flies.
Her Story Went Viral
Nothing about Jeff and Mackenzie's journey was ordinary. But it wasn't just those who knew them best who felt that way: In only a matter of time, their faces had found their way onto the internet. And it left the online world with a whole lot of questions.
From "gold digger" to "predator," strangers behind the screen couldn't help but question the unconventional romance. Were their ulterior motives at play? According to online spectators, it certainly seemed that way. Perhaps that's why it wasn't long before Mackenzie and Jeff took to the keyboard to set the record straight...
What Had Really Happened to Her Relationship With TJ
There was no denying it: In striking up their very own romance, Mackenzie and Jeff had gone on to destroy another - two of them, to be exact. But according to the newfound couple, there was a whole lot more going on behind closed doors than we may have realized.
"I was really unhappy in the relationship with his son," Mackenzie explained of her prior engagement to TJ. But she wasn't the only one who had previously hit a rocky point: "Jeff was on the brink of a divorce," she revealed, assuring both of their former romances were already headed towards failure.
"The Age Gap Doesn't Bother Us"
But while their former relationship struggles may have been all too real, there was still another elephant in the room: Their age gap. After all, there were 36 years wedged between Mackenzie and Jeff. Even if they found no problem with it... would others feel the same way?
"It's funny because a lot of people look at us and think our age gap is so big," Mackenzie admitted of the judging stares and remarks they've faced along the way. But as far as she's concerned? None of that ever mattered: "The age gap doesn't bother us… we have a normal relationship."
Becoming a Family of 3
Sure, their age gap didn't mean much when it came to the love they had for one another. But on paper? Mackenzie and Jeff had to face the facts: She was in her 20s, he, his 60s. Would they ever be able to start a family of their own? It was a question that they'd have to face eventually.
But on a fateful day in February 2020, suddenly, they had their answers: Mackenzie was pregnant, something neither she nor Jeff had ever planned on. Nonetheless, the expecting parents were thrilled, and then some. They were going to have a family of their own in only a matter of time.
As the months continued to pass, the soon-to-be parents continued making preparations for their future arrival. But no matter how ready Mackenzie and Jeff may have felt, they never could've prepared for the moment they were morphed into a family of 3.
It was a dream come true, something that almost felt surreal: On November 16, 2020, Mackenzie and Jeff welcomed a little bundle of joy: Their very own baby boy, Wyatt Yocum-Scholl. But while they were over the moon, their latest arrival also came with a crippling realization...
What She Regrets About Her Relationship With TJ
It should have been the happiest time of their life. But in becoming a family, Mackenzie and Jeff couldn't help but be reminded of their former ones. Would Jeff ever be able to make things right with his children? Or what about Mackenzie and her former high school sweetheart?
It was a bitter pill to swallow, one that left the newfound parents with a whole lot of remorse. "The one thing I regret is not being honest and starting a relationship with Jeff before our previous relationships had ended," Mackenzie confessed. "We should have just been honest."
Mackenzie's Words for Her Ex
While their latest chapter has called for an endless amount of love and celebration, Mackenzie and Jeff actually wish they had done things differently. In fact, as they put it: "We obviously didn't want to hurt anyone." Of course, though, we all know how this story ends. Which brings us to one last question…
What would they say to their exes if they had the chance? For starters, according to Mackenzie, she had been put to the test - and then some. "That whole year was just really tough," she explained of her fragile mental state at the time. "I just want my ex and his mum to know that I am sorry for what happened... I do feel bad."
Big Plans for Her Future
Well, what now? Where do Mackenzie and Jeff go from here? From the looks of it, the two won't be slowing down anytime soon. In fact, regrets aside, the couple seem happier than ever before: "What we've found in each other is what we were missing in our previous relationships," Mackenzie gushed.
"Just keep your head up and think of what the future has in store for you... as your life falls into place," she explained of her newfound hope. And with plans of heading down the aisle in the near future? It appears Mackenzie will eventually become Mrs. Scholl after all...