The Pioneer Woman’s Ree and Ladd Drummond are arguably the most wholesome power couple in America. Their Food Network program provides a seemingly inside view of their life on a sprawling Oklahoma ranch. While she cooks up a storm for friends and family, never shying away from beef or butter, Ladd wrangles cattle and ensures that the ranch and their many other projects operate smoothly. And while it sounds like a relic from an older, simpler time — part of their appeal, for sure — it’s legit how things are run on Drummond Ranch.

Ladd — or, as Ree calls him, the Marlboro Man — is more than just a handsome cowboy. He’s truly Ree’s co-pilot. And as much as he’s a man of few words, which lends itself to his enigmatic demeanor, there’s a lot going on below the gentle patriarch’s country cowboy surface. So without further ado, here’s what we dug up on the Pioneer Woman’s husband that you might not have known before.

The romance is real

Ree and Ladd Drumond on a bench

If you don’t know how the Drummonds first met, prepare yourself for a pretty romantic story. Ree was newly single and had come home to Oklahoma from California to “regroup” and apply for law school in Chicago, according to an interview with BookPage. That’s when one night she spied a handsome and mysterious stranger at a smoky bar, and she was smitten. Apparently the feeling was mutual, because that man was Ladd Drummond, now her longtime husband. Clearly it worked out — and Ree never wound up moving to Chicago.

Even though the Drummonds are long past the honeymoon stage, they’ve put in the work necessary to sustain their marriage. “I don’t believe that romance conquers all and love conquers all,” Ree mused. “But the passion — I don’t know — it propels you forward through the tough times.”

However, their storybook romance might never have been if Ree hadn’t been patient, because Ladd didn’t call her the day after they first met. Or the next week. Homeboy waited four months to call back, according to an article Ree penned in Country Living. What on earth was the holdup?

He’s given her some major ideas

Ree and Ladd Drummond skiing

Fans of Ree know this story: After Ree got pregnant on her honeymoon and spent the next seven years bearing and raising four children, Ladd decided to give her a moment to herself. According to The New Yorker, he took all four children out on the range, leaving Ree alone with her thoughts. That’s what gave her the time to start her blog, The Pioneer Woman, which was the seed for what’s now an empire of cookbooks, a television show, a line of homeware, a restaurant and retail store, and a hotel. Crazy!

But Ree didn’t come up with these ideas on her own. In fact, it was Ladd who encouraged her to start her blog, according to People magazine. And he later came up with the idea for the hotel and more. “Every good idea I’ve had has come from him,” Ree confessed. “I think of myself as this independent woman who can handle everything herself, but I really trust his opinion.” Given how successful it’s all been, chances are we’ll see more from the duo in the future.

He’s more progressive than you might think

Ladd Drummond

On the surface, the Drummonds’ marriage appears very traditional — the cowboy spends the day on the range, while his wife spends the day in the kitchen. But scratch the surface just a little bit, and it’s obvious that Ladd’s more progressive than one might think, chaps and spurs aside. “The optics of our marriage are that it is very traditional,” Ree noted in an interview with People magazine. “But in many ways, [it] is anything but traditional.”

How so? For one, Ladd often takes care of the kids so that Ree has time to work, whether that means driving them to soccer practice, having them work outside with him, or holding down the fort while she’s away on business. “They’ve always been a team,” Ree’s mother, Gerre, shared in an interview with The New Yorker. “And this, coming from a Western ranch culture in which the men have traditionally been the kings.” Who knew that there were modern cowboys out there? Keep living the dream, Ree!

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