Ryan Pickett, a 33-year-old Green Bay Packers defensive end, is crediting God for holding his 10-year marriage together with a family of six children.
Pickett and his wife Jennifer married at a young age and faced opposition along the way. However, the NFL player and Christian credited God for keeping his family together.
"God is the secret," Pickett told Essence.com. "And, we're best friends too."
Pickett and his wife met in an Atlanta, Ga. mall close to 11 years ago. Eight months later, the athlete proposed.
While some did not approve of the union taking place when the couple was so young, Jennifer explained how the pair's Christian faith led to them being married at such a young age.
"We're Christians, so for us, it was a spiritual thing as well. We didn't want to live together before we got married," Mrs. Pickett told Essence. "For him, that also gave it a different sense of urgency."
When the young couple came together, Pickett was already established in the NFL while his wife-to-be was attending school. She described praying about the union before ultimately cutting her education short after obtaining a major internship just before graduation.
"I left school early. I never graduated. I was praying a lot," Mrs. Pickett reflected to Essence.com. "I made a decision that I was going to put my dreams on hold temporarily to become his wife and help him succeed in his career, but I knew everything for me was going to happen later ... We just wanted to do it the right way from the start."
While Mrs. Pickett said some assumed that she was pregnant at the time, she insisted that she wasn't and even drew the ire of her own mother at the time.
After 10 years, the couple have four girls and two boys. However, Mrs. Pickett told Essence how God blessed her despite the risks she had taken.
"For me to make that sacrifice, that was all God ... People thought that if something happened, I wouldn't have anything to fall back on," said Mrs. Pinkett, who is going back to school and working on her own business. "I prayed about it, and God answered my prayers ... I don't have a problem with being Ryan's wife. I'm okay in my own skin and knowing my role and what God wants me to do."