about jen


Here's the short version:

My name is Jennie. 
I have a Ph.D. in interpersonal communication
and I'm an Assistant Professor at JMU.

I live in Virginia with my awesome husband,
(who I call Hus, which is pronounced "Huz")
Yes he is, in fact, a wise-ass. A sweet wise-ass.

our adorable boy/girl twin toddlers,
Vivian Grace
Gavin Charles
and our sweet little boy.
Paxton Marshall

And we like to have lots of good fun that is funny.
(Yes, I just made a Dr. Suess reference.)


Now if you're still interested (you know you are), here's the long version of who I am...

Hus and I both spent the majority of our childhoods growing up in Maryland (Wheaton and Adelphi to be exact). We began dating in 2000 (when I was fresh out of high school), moved to Alabama together in 2004 (where we increased our dog count from one to three), moved to Indiana in 2006 (where we bought our first house!), were engaged and married in 2007 (yes, we dated for 7 years before we got married), had our ridiculously adorable, yet unbelievably time-consuming (who knew!) fraternal twins in 2009 (at which point, we slowly decreased our dog count from three to zero), finally moved back to the east coast in 2010, and had our third child (another boy!) in 2012.

I was raised in Adelphi, MD by two incredible individuals, Madeleine (who still lives in Maryland) and Charlie (who passed away in 2006 after a 12-year battle with emphysema). My parents both grew up in D.C. and dated one another since their teenage years. I have one younger sister, Meghan, and a couple of fake sisters, Rachel and Sarah (who I grew up with since toddler hood and who's parents are my parents' BFFs). Therefore, I also have a second mom, Renee, and a second Dad, Dave.

I grew up listening to Solid Gold Oldies from the 50s and 60s, hanging out at the local pool each summer with the same group of friends, bowling and eating doughnuts from 7-11 with my dad and sisters on a very regular basis, playing outside (for the entire day) whenever it was remotely warm, making a ton of art projects with my mom, decorating our house (always inside and sometimes out) for every holiday known to man, eating cheese toasties (that's grilled cheese for those of you out of the cheese toastie loop) prepared by Renee because we wouldn't eat anything else, and continuously looking forward to the many traditions we had in our family like making a bunny cake with Twizzlers as whiskers on Easter, playing the same birthday record that encouraged us all to dance, sing, and run in circles, and watching fireworks each and every Fourth of July with my mom, dad, sister, grandmother, second mom and dad, and fake sisters on the lawns of the University of Maryland in College Park.

As a child, I learned about the value of a dollar, the significance of always putting people before material things, and the importance of a good education. Saying that, I'm a bit of a spend-thrift (I do love a good second-hand store), I don't really own anything that's terribly expensive (and I don't care for any of it), I absolutely love hanging out with Hus and our children (really, I do), and I have three higher education degrees (in fact, you can call me Dr. Jennie, Ph.D.).

I currently teach at James Madison University in the School of Communication Studies as an Assistant Professor. But I must admit, I'm a little uncomfortable in academia. Sometimes, it can get a bit too highbrow and ivory tower for me. You see, I'm from Prince George's County, MD (population: a little over 863,000 shoved into 485 square miles of land). Without getting into all of the details (you can Google it if you want), P.G County is a bit of a tough area. And I'd be lying if I said that I successfully avoided engaging in any illegal activities as a teenager. But I made it through. And that's what counts (in my opinion anyway). On top of that, I come from a long line of people who actually worked hard for a living. My dad was an Auto Body Technician and my mom was a Stay-at-Home Mom and then a Catholic Elementary School Teacher for the majority of my life. My parents sacrificed everything and worked extremely hard to send both of us (me and my sister) to private school. They empowered us to dream big, set goals, and then to actually achieve those goals. But, even though they urged us to be ambitious, no one expected that I would go to graduate school. In fact, I remember when I said to my mom, "I think I'm going to get my Master's degree." She responded with, "What? You're crazy." Little did she know that this crazy idea was going to lead me to sign up for 7 more years of education (on top of my 4-year Bachelor's degree).

The drive and initiative that were given to my sister and I by our parents have allowed us to accomplish things we didn't imagine being possible as kids. My sister, Meghan, attended L'Academie de Cuisine and is now the Executive Chef of a restaurant in southern Virginia. I went to Wor Wic Community College for a few semesters before transferring to the University of Maryland, College Park for my Bachelor's degree in Communication. I then went to Auburn University for my Master's and Purdue University for my Ph.D., both in Communication.

Luckily, Hus has been by my side for all three of those degrees. And even though he doesn't think so, I could never have done it without him. He's my rock. He's my best friend. He's my biggest cheerleader (one of those macho, manly cheerleaders of course). I couldn't ask for a better partner-in-crime. Okay, well there are a few things that could change... just kidding!

Hus and I always knew that we wanted kids, but our twins were a surprise. And by "surprise," I mean that we were trying to conceive and we were ecstatic to find out that I was pregnant, but we didn't discover that we were having twins until I was already 24 weeks along! That's about 6 months for all of you non-math-majors. In 2009, Gavin Charles and Vivian Grace, were born six weeks early and had to stay in the NICU for 12 days (mostly for eating difficulties). They have since caught up with their non-preemie counterparts and are so freakin' cute that I feel like eating them for breakfast several times a week. On the other hand, they also test our patience on a daily basis. I've seriously considered creating an auction on Ebay to see how much I could get for them a few times as well (again, I'm just kidding... kind of). To make things even more hectic, we recently added a new member to our family, Paxton Marshall, in May of 2012 (three years and a couple weeks after the twins' arrival).



Something else that you should probably know about me is that I'm passionate about many things. And one of those things is love. I love love. I love learning about love, I love teaching about love, and I love writing about love. But most of all, I love conducting research about love so that I can discover ways that individuals can maintain or enhance their own love.

I truly believe that good social scientific research should not only improve the lives of others, but should also be made available to them. My goal as a writer is to make research available to the academic world through academic journal publications and conference presentations and to the general public through various popular press outlets (like my book). Another way that I disseminate information to the public is by writing this research-based relationship blog (www.JensLoveLessons.com), which I have done since 2008 and which inspired a good portion of my book. 

When it comes to my research interests, I broadly study communication skill training and relationship maintenance behaviors. Much of my current research focuses around examining (1) the impact of disrespectful communication on relationships, (2) the actual skills needed to effectively communicate about sex in romantic relationships, and (3) the role that a wide variety of communication skills play in successful marriages that have experienced hardship (i.e. loss of a child, terminal illness diagnosis, raising multiples, etc.). In the future, I plan to publish two more books based on these areas of research. 

This is me. Thanks for stopping by!

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