"We obviously didn't want to hurt anyone," Mackenzie admitted. But as the saying goes, all's fair in love and war. Here's the story of how a woman fell for her fiancé's father and turned a family upside down.
Happily Ever After
Looking at Mackenzie and Jeff, the first thing you might notice is their 36-year age gap. And while that can be difficult to overcome for some, it’s nothing compared to how their relationship started.
Because when the two first met, they were both in very different relationships. Jeff was married to his wife of many years, and Mackenzie was engaged to her boyfriend TJ.... who just so happened to be Jeff's son! How could such a romance even happen, you ask? Well, let's start from the beginning.
Looking at where her life took her so many years later, it might be surprising to learn that Mackenzie Yocum started life in a very strict household in Dixon, Illinois. She was a naive, sheltered girl who spent her early years being taught some serious life lessons by her mother and father.
The first lesson she learned, was how to have her own back. "My parents taught me how to be self-reliable," she said. She realized quickly that she could "make it through anything life throws at her." And indeed, as she got older she was going to prove that over and over again.
TJ Came Along
It all started when TJ Scholl walked through the doors of Dixon High School and laid eyes on young Mackenzie. Neither could have known that his enrolment was going to signal trouble in the years to come. For now, he was just an energetic young man, falling for a pretty young woman. Nothing could be more normal than that, right?
And things did move rather quickly for the youngsters. As mentioned, Mackenzie stood out to TJ from the moment he first saw her, and the two were drawn to each other. She noticed straight away that the teenage boy was "a big kid," and couldn't help but find him charming. And soon enough, the inevitable happened.
They clicked together from the first moment, and soon enough the pair couldn’t stay away from each other. Whether they were passing notes in class or chattering away in the hallways of Dixon High, they were practically glued together. And within a few weeks, they were in a relationship.
Mackenzie even took to Facebook to share her love for her new boyfriend. "How did I get so lucky to call him mine?" she posted, completely smitten. The two of them wanted nothing more than to share life together, so what happened next made perfect sense.
They Got Engaged
On December 23, 2017, four years into their relationship, Mackenzie’s life took another turn. Her boyfriend had asked her to meet him at one of their favorite restaurants, Francesco’s, where they often ate together. But this was nothing like a typical date night.
Mackenzie and TJ sat down to eat, with the former having no idea of what the latter had planned. Safe to say she was shocked and emotional when her lover interrupted their meal to get down on one knee. "Will you marry me, Mackenzie?" The young woman was stunned into silence.
She Said Yes
But Mackenzie wasn’t silent for long. Within a few moments, she erupted into a loud "yes!" and leaped into TJ's arms. "I'm gonna love you forever and ever, forever and ever, amen," she exclaimed, understandably overcome with emotion at the prospect of spending eternity with what she had thought was the love of her life.
Little did she know how much her life would change. But for now, Mackenzie was ecstatic - and it seemed like her life was coming together perfectly, in every way. "He's going to be the best husband and father ever," she said of TJ, the man who was supposed to be her future hubby.
Prepping for the Big Day
Mackenzie was so excited that she wasted no time jumping into wedding plans, eager to bring her and TJ's dream wedding to life. But after looking through wedding catalogs and researching everything she needed, it became clear that wedding planning wasn't going to be as easy as they thought.
It was going to take a lot of time and effort to plan, and above all else, it was going to be expensive. Mackenzie held down a job at Walmart, and TJ was working as a corn farmer. Neither paid enough to fund a wedding. "I don't need a big fancy wedding, but even when you try to go cheap? It's still ridiculous," she said.
Trouble With the In-Laws
But that was only the start of her worries. Perhaps the realization that their big day was much further away than expected, had helped contribute to what happened next. The relationship between Mackenzie and her future mother-in-law began to sour, and the two were regularly at odds with one another.
Mackenzie shared this matter-of-factly, saying "after we got engaged... I started fighting with his mother." Disagreements between brides and their mothers-in-law certainly weren't unheard of, but it only added to an already stressful time for the couple. She felt that something else was on the horizon too, she just didn’t know what.
But if the issues between herself and TJs mother weren't enough, there was a second degree of tension that began to infiltrate Mackenzie and the Scholl’s daily life. She and TJ's relationship had taken a turn, and they found themselves drifting further apart.
"If couples start dating at 16 or young ages, they either grow together or grow apart," Mackenzie stated firmly on the matter. And at that point, it wasn't clear in which direction their relationship was growing for the long term. Mackenzie was understandably depressed by the idea that things with her fiance might be ending.
What About Jeff?
But what about the 4th person in this story - the one and only Jeffrey Scholl, TJ's father? Well, at this point the retired farmer was still in the background of the story. And this charming and bubbly father of three was about to become more involved than he could have ever expected.
Unlike his wife, Jeff got along famously well with his daughter-in-law. And in fact, he'd one day be internet famous for it! But for now, he was nothing more than a welcoming presence in the Scholl home. As far as he was concerned, Mackenzie was like a father figure.. for now.
They Got Closer
As time passed and the rift between Mackenzie and her mother-in-law deepened, Jeff remained firmly supportive of the younger woman. She began to see him as more than just her fiancee's father - he was a friend. She even began "to confide in Jeff and ask for advice."
"That's when we started getting friendly," Mackenzie admitted. The more she turned to Jeff for comfort and support, the more their "relationship" began to morph into something else. Something that was just downright… unusual for a woman and her future father-in-law.
And rather than turning away from this deepening bond, both Jeff and Mackenzie embraced it. Soon they were having their morning coffees together, staying up late into the night to share their thoughts and feelings. They talked so much that they both had tunnel vision - only thinking about each other.
"Jeff was always so welcoming," Mackenzie said. It was how she justified what was happening, especially as their rapport became less friendly and familial, and more flirty and suggestive. But it was reaching a point where neither could deny what was about to happen...
Things Turned Physical
"The emotional cheating went on for around one year," Mackenzie revealed. They had been sneaking heartfelt conversations and messaging each other late into the night. It was clear what both of them wanted, but it took another 6 months before things got physical between the two.
And Mackenzie couldn't just ignore how she felt. It seemed that her and TJ's relationship was only going further downhill, and all it did was drive her further into his father's arms. And it definitely wasn't one-sided - Jeff felt exactly the same way. Confused? Excited? Either way, they weren’t sure what to do.
People Started to Notice
But what they did know is that the feelings that were developing between the two adults felt like a lifeline. Both were struggling with their respective relationships, and what they felt for each other was too much to deny. Either way, one night the boundary had been crossed.
But there was a problem. Jeff and Mackenzie weren’t as subtle as they thought they were, and people around them were beginning to notice. In the Scholl household, everyone was acutely aware of the excessive time that Jeff and his daughter-in-law spent together. Would they be found out?
The Relationship Ends
As the tensions and suspicions in the Scholl household grew ever larger, so did the distance between TJ and his fiancé. They spent less and less time together, and the communication between them was at an all-time low. And TJ had officially had enough.
"He didn't even seem angry, he wasn't having a tantrum or anything, and he was very calm," Mackenzie recalled of the moment that TJ finally ended their five-year relationship. "He said our relationship wasn't going anywhere, and neither of us were happy." And sadly, MacKenzie couldn't disagree.
They Got Busted
After the two high school sweethearts had broken up and the dust had settled, Mackenzie continued to see TJ’s father. Perhaps they had abandoned caution now that TJ was (somewhat) out of the picture because in 2018 the truth came crashing down on everyone.
She and Jeff had finally been caught out. The news spread until everyone knew, even Mackenzie’s wayward ex-fiancee. "I heard from someone else that he knew about me and his dad," she admitted. It was official - the illicit secret they shared had been revealed, and chaos was about to unfold.
The News Spread
One of Jeff's sons was the first to officially respond, and his reaction was certainly softer than expected, though probably not very nice to hear. "He'd said that he and his dad didn't have a relationship anymore, and he didn't care what his dad was doing," Mackenzie shared.
But if that hurt, then what happened next must have hurt Jeff far more. As his family discovered the news of their affair, family members began dropping from his life like flies. "I do understand because it did hurt a lot of people," Mackenzie said. After all, the same thing was happening to her, even if to a lesser degree.
The Internet Found Out
As is often the case with personal stories like theirs, it wasn't just their friends and family who were shocked by the news. Somehow their story reached the internet, and it blew up overnight. They were suddenly bombarded by comments and messages from online strangers.
And it wasn't positive attention either. The new couple was on the receiving end of insults like "gold digger" and "predator" from strangers who were absolutely baffled by their relationship. Jeff and Mackenzie couldn't help but wonder how their story had made it to the internet, and if it was a sabotage attempt.
The Truth About Love
So Mackenzie did the only thing she could think of doing... she jumped online to defend herself. After all, the general consensus seemed to be that she and her new beau had ruined their own relationships, and broken their ex-partners' hearts in the process. But according to her, things weren't that simple.
Mackenzie mentally prepared herself to explain what had happened - from both their perspectives. "I was really unhappy in the relationship with his son," she stated. "Jeff was on the brink of a divorce." Both relationships had been teetering at the edge of a cliff, and she and Jeff had simply stepped off it, together.
Ignoring the Haters
While Jeff and Mackenzie had already made peace with the strange foundations of their love, they still hadn't addressed the other unconventional dynamic in their relationship... the age gap. At 25 and 61 respectively, there were more than three and a half decades between them. What would other people think?
In truth, they couldn't care less. "It's funny because a lot of people look at us and think our age gap is so big," Mackenzie laughed. "The age gap doesn't bother us... we have a normal relationship." Of course, it wasn't "normal" to some people, but the pair wasn't bothered.
Welcoming a Little One
Though Mackenzie and Jeff both felt comfortable and fulfilled in their relationship, the age gap did raise some further questions. After all, Mackenzie did want a family of her own one day, but would that be possible considering how far apart they were in age?
Their concerns were fully resolved in February 2020, when Mackenzie discovered some incredible news: she was pregnant! Though she knew she wanted kids eventually, neither she nor Jeff had planned for it to happen so soon! Regardless, they embraced the news, joyous at the thought of starting their own family together.
And so the two expecting parents set about planning for their incoming baby and preparing to welcome him into the world. Both Mackenzie and Jeff were excited and nervous, and sure enough, when the big day finally arrived they were beside themselves.
On November 16, 2020, Mackenzie welcomed a tiny, precious baby boy into the world. They chose the name Wyatt Yocum-Scholl, and the couple could barely contain their happiness. But soon after their arrival, they realized that their joy was bittersweet.
Thinking Back on Past Relationships
Though they were genuinely overjoyed, a shadow had been cast over Wyatt's birth. This lovely little addition to their family also caused Mackenzie and Jeff to think about the families they "left behind" - AKA those who cut contact with them. They couldn't help but wonder if they could ever patch up the past.
"The one thing I regret is not being honest and starting a relationship with Jeff before our previous relationships had ended," Mackenzie said. "We should have just been honest." Looking at her child, she couldn't help but feel a jolt of remorse for the pain that their love had caused.
"I Do Feel Bad"
And as little Wyatt began to grow, both Mackenzie and Jeff had to acknowledge that they had made mistakes, and should have done things differently. "We obviously didn't want to hurt anyone," Mackenzie insisted, but it hardly changed the reality of the matter. But how did they justify it?
"That whole year was just really tough," Mackenzie explained, in regards to 2017 to 2018 when her and TJ's relationship ended. "I just want my ex and his mum to know that I am sorry for what happened... I do feel bad." She had never acted out of malice but had simply been in a very unhappy headspace.
But things were certainly looking up, and both Mackenzie and Jeff were finally starting to leave the negativity of their past behind them. "What we've found in each other is what we were missing in our previous relationships," she said. And that was something worth celebrating - and protecting.
In Mackenzie’s book, the best thing you can do is stay positive. "Just keep your head up and think of what the future has in store for you… as your life falls into place," she explained. Now that she and Jeff have their beautiful baby boy, and wedding plans are underway. So it looks like they got their happily ever after.