'Bachelorette' JoJo Fletcher & Jordan Rodgers Reveal 'Many' Near Splits: How They Stayed Strong (Exclusive)
JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers put in the hard work to make their relationship last. The couple got engaged four years ago on The Bachelorette and would be newlyweds right now if it weren't for the coronavirus pandemic.
In an interview with ET's Lauren Zima, Fletcher and Rodgers open up about watching their Bachelorette journey play out on The Bachelor: The Great Seasons -- Ever!, and reveal how they stayed strong amid "many" near splits.
As Fletcher and Rodgers explained, their first year of engagement was the hardest. "We met on a TV show. Like, it was just by chance. It was a fairytale and it's not real life. I mean, there's a million excuses you can bring up," Rodgers says.
That first year was full of "crazy ups and downs, bad fights and arguments," and Rodgers and Fletcher hit a breaking point. "We just kind of sat down, and we were just broken," he recalls. "We were like, 'We love each other, [but] that doesn't mean that this is gonna work out.' There was one or two ways we could go, and we decided right there to put our foot down and be better."
"It was not easy. It's still growth from that moment on," Rodgers adds. "But it's a tough world to be thrown into, because you're getting to know somebody while you're on a huge spotlight."
"It was so tough," Fletcher agrees, noting that walking away would have been "the easiest" option. "I'm so glad we got through it. ... There were so many moments where we could've parted ways, and we wouldn't be here now. We have such a beautiful life and family together."
Rodgers and Fletcher announced on her season finale of The Bachelorette that they were moving in together -- so distance wasn't necessarily a challenge like it is for many other Bachelor couples. Instead, the biggest pressure was coming from outside of their relationship. Tabloid headlines painted Rodgers as a fame-seeking player.
"I was never used to the media and tabloids, and I didn't understand that world at all. So, that was a lot of pressure on me," Fletcher confesses. "Then you start doubting, like, 'Do I really know this person? What's true? What's not true?' And then that causes friction between your relationship, because you're supposed to be each other's rock and support."
The rumors and reports about Rodgers drove a wedge between him and Fletcher. "We didn't know how to communicate with each other. We have two very different styles, and it was just like, one thing on top of another on top of the other ... we could've fought about anything that first year. Anything! It was just... so much," she reveals. "I'm sure he had resentment, I had resentment. There was just a lot."
The couple were trying their best to "build trust" in an environment that constantly put their opinions of each other into question. As Rodgers explains, it put Fletcher a position to feel like she had to defend Rodgers, without truly knowing he was whom she thought he was.
"It was a struggle," Fletcher says. "I can't even imagine always having to defend yourself 24/7. I mean, that's exhausting."
The format of The Bachelorette allowed Fletcher and Rodgers to fall in love, but it didn't provide them the time to get to know each other inside out. It also didn't prepare them to work through conflict. The biggest drama on Fletcher's season was caused by contestant Chad Johnson, whom she sent home halfway through the season.
"You don't ever get to have conflict on the show. You really don't. You may have a little bit and... but you never learn how to fight," Rodgers says. "And anybody that's in a relationship knows that you need to know how to navigate relationship conflict. We did not know how to do that, and we were on different worlds of how we handled that."
Finally getting on the same page was a "really big breakthrough," Fletcher shares. "It was just that conscious decision every time that we got into an argument, taking a step back and, yes, we love each other, but we also need to respect each other," she says. "To this day... nothing's perfect! There are moments where we'll be discussing or arguing about something and we're like, 'OK, this is where we need to take a moment.' It's just always gonna be work, and I think that's what makes relationships last."
Having a strong core to their relationship also helps. "It was just coming back and understanding that we make each other better. We're best friends, and if we have that, then we can get through whatever this crap is," Rodgers expressed.
Rodgers received the first impression rose on Fletcher's season of The Bachelorette -- as well as the first kiss. Amid the fairytale dates and luxurious trips, the pair were always looking for real moments.
"I went in and I was like, 'I really like this guy... I'm really attracted to him. Just everything felt right," Fletcher says of meeting Rodgers on night one.
She actually knew Rodgers was going to be on her season, after his casting had been leaked a week prior. Fletcher looked him up on Instagram but "never talked to him," she says. Rodgers, meanwhile, actually considered DM-ing Fletcher himself, not knowing they would get the chance to meet on The Bachelorette. She's glad he didn't. "If I would have found that out, I would have been like, 'You’re going home.' That's squirmy!" she insists.
Throughout the season, their spark grew, and Rodgers was also able to turn "off-limits" notes to Fletcher into a deal with producers for some extra time with her. He promised to give the notes to Fletcher on camera if they let him spend off-camera time with her following his hometown date.
"We didn't get the alone time, but there was us in sweats, eating In-N-Out, with producers and no cameras," he reveals. "We're sitting on a hotel room floor eating In-N-Out, and I was like, 'She's pretty cool.'"
"[It's] really sweet," Fletcher says of looking back at the beginning of their relationship. "I got emotional a few times because it's nice to go back and watch us... it was a really, really special thing to watch back."
Fletcher and Rodgers were set to tie the knot on June 13, but have now postponed their wedding another year, so they're safe to hold the event as they intended. Pushing their nuptials to the fall wasn't the best option due to Rodgers' work as a commentator for ESPN.
"We want that day to be exactly what we want. We want our guests and our family and our friends to feel safe and comfortable," Fletcher shares. "It just did not feel right whatsoever to roll the dice on that."
The couple is focusing on the bright side -- there's no stress over wedding planning, as everything has been planned out to the last detail.
"The only thing [is] the dress," Fletcher admits. "I love my dress. I can't foresee buying anything better, but you have a whole year."
"So, we'll see," she adds -- but insists there's no way she'll rock a maternity gown down the aisle.
"I did say, 'Hey, we got a year. That means nine months and you'd have a couple months to get back in shape... it's perfect!'" Rodgers jokes.
Fletcher isn't on board with that idea. "Wedding first," she says. "He's fooling you right now. We're on the exact same page, and we'd like things to happen in order."
The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons -- Ever! airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. See more on Fletcher and Rodgers in the video below, and tune in to Tuesday's ET for more from our interview.
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