Jill (Duggar) Dillard is speaking candidly about why she and husband Derick Dillard chose to leave Counting On and how it has caused division in her relationship with the rest of her family. Having grown up in the ultra-conservative Duggar household, first on 19 Kids and Counting and then Counting On, Jill told PEOPLE Wednesday she only realized three years ago that she and her husband were unable to make their own life choices.
"Our control to choose what jobs we were allowed to accept and even where we were allowed to live was taken away from us," Jill said, explaining that her goals and relationship were strictly dictated by her family and TLC. Derick, now studying in law school, added, "The first few years of our marriage, we spent time and money working towards opportunities only to hit a dead end when we'd be told, 'Well, you're not allowed to do that.'" When Jill and Derick told her family about their choice, "It didn't go over very well with anyone," she recalled. "By that point we'd had enough. We knew we had to pull out completely to reevaluate and get our bearings."
In the years since, the mother of 5-year-old Israel and 3-year-old Samuel has branched away from her family's stringent rules, going so far as to pierce her nose, wear jeans, use non-hormonal birth control and drink alcohol in moderation. "Sometimes," she told the magazine, "it's a good thing being OK with other people not being OK." That doesn't mean she doesn't want to repair her family relationship eventually. "I never expected this to happen or for it to get to this point," Jill admitted. "But I'm realizing I can't put a timeline on healing. I love my family and they love me. I really just have to follow God's lead and take it one day at a time."
Jill's parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, told PEOPLE in a statement, "Every family has differences of opinion and perspective at times, but families work things out. We all love Jill, Derick, and their boys very much. It is our prayer that our relationship is healed and fully restored quickly!"
The former reality personality previously opened up about the divide on her family's YouTube channel, admitting there was "some distancing" there. "We’re not on the best terms with some of my family. We’ve had some disagreements, but we’re working towards healing definitely and restoration, but we’re having to kind of just take some time and heal," she said earlier this month. "We’re doing what’s best for our family right now and just working through it, I guess. We are praying and trusting God that like the timeline is his and what that looks like and everything. So we definitely appreciate your prayers, and we don’t want to go into detail."