"It's hard not to be defensive," she told People magazine in her first solo interview. "To think back on how hard you've worked, and all anybody thinks about is that you're a trophy wife."
In a story for Monday's issue, Thompson said: "I almost think they had to fabricate that trophy-wife stuff because there's nothing interesting to say."
Jeri Thompson is a Naperville, Ill., native who has worked for the Republican National Committee, on Capitol Hill, and at a public relations-lobbying firm.
Thompson, 41, says she met her future husband at a Nashville supermarket on July 4, 1996, a few years before she moved to Washington. To hear her tell it, the then-U.S. senator from Tennessee was standing in line with a can of beanie weenies and half a premade tuna fish sandwich.
"I looked at him and just said, 'I'm so sorry,'" Thompson says, adding that he carried her groceries to the car, and she invited him to a friend's party that night.
Years later, she tells People: "I was never an older-man-dater kind of girl before."
They married in June 2002, and have a daughter, Hayden, who turns 4 in October, and a son, Samuel, approaching 1.