Jill Duggar Dillard shares how reality shows nearly destroyed her marriage

Jill Duggar Dillard | You Tube/Prime Video

With a new memoir slated for publication, Jill Duggar Dillard has opened up about how participation in her family's reality television series put a strain on her marriage.

Dillard is one of the 19 children of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, who raised their children in a strict Christian household in Arkansas, as documented in the long-running TLC series “19 Kids and Counting” and a spinoff series, “Counting On.”

The 32-year-old spoke with People magazine as her memoir, Counting the Cost, is scheduled for release next Tuesday.

In the interview published Wednesday, Dillard detailed how the demands associated with filming reality television “caused a lot of frustration” in her marriage to Derick Dillard as the reality TV lifestyle became a source of tension with her spouse “especially early on, where he would feel a certain way about filming something.” The couple married in 2014.

“I’d be like, ‘I hear you; I feel you. I also don’t want to do whatever it is they’re asking us to do, either. But we have to,’” she added. 

Dillard claims her upbringing, based on the teachings of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, a Christian umbrella organization established by Bill Gothard, which places a heavy emphasis on the importance of parental obedience, made matters worse in light of her father’s role in the center of the show.

“It definitely got between us,” she said, referring to the impact of her perceived obligations as a daughter in relation to the show and her marriage. 

“No matter your age, you are to obey your [parents’] wishes, and you even have to ask them for their blessing for any major moment in your life,” she added. “That could be buying a house, moving to a different state, where to go to school. We were dealing with this a lot when we were trying to make decisions for our family, and we were really wrestling back and forth with it.”

Derick Dillard agreed with his wife’s assessment of the situation, telling People, “Whenever we were at odds with what her dad thought we should be doing with filming, he would say things that would be very damaging.”

He identified problematic questions made by the Duggar family patriarch, who he said would ask, “Is this you, Jill, or is this you, Derek?”

Derick Dillard also claimed that Duggar would ask: “Are you leading your wife astray and doing things that are not supportive of marriage?”

He described his father-in-law’s efforts as trying to “weaponize the relationship,” saying the occurrences were a “red flag.”

Eventually, after reflecting on how arguments with her father were “affecting our marriage,” Jill Dillard determined that “we either need to fight this battle together, or it’s going to rip us apart.”

“We had to join forces at that point,” she insisted.

The release of Counting the Cost comes three years after the Dillards left the philosophy associated with the Institute in Basic Life Principles behind.

While the couple is “trusting in God” as they chart a new course for their lives, they have embraced therapy as what Jill Dillard characterizes as “the gift we didn’t know we needed.”

They now live on the Arkansas-Oklahoma border with their three sons.

Addressing her book’s potential to attract negative reactions, Jill Dillard declared, “I feel called to do this" and asserted that “we really wanted to tell our story for my siblings, because some of them are going to face similar challenges, if they haven’t already, to what I’ve faced.” 

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar released a statement to People declining to respond to allegations laid out by their daughter and son-in-law.

“We love all of our children very much. As with any family, few things are more painful than conflicts or problems among those you love. … We do not believe the best way to resolve conflicts, facilitate forgiveness and reconciliation, or to communicate through difficulties is through the media or a public forum so we will not comment.” 

Counting the Cost and this week’s interview with People are not the first time Jill Dillard has sought to distance herself from her famous family and the strict rules they abide by.

The former reality TV star previously documented how she wears a nose ring and pants in addition to drinking alcohol, activities that her upbringing forbade her from partaking in. 

Court documents unsealed last year show that Jill Dillard considered her relationship with her father "pretty toxic," describing him as “controlling” and “verbally abusive.”

“I saw a whole new side to my dad once my husband and I started making decisions that were best for our family, but not in his best interest,” Dillard was quoted as saying in a preliminary psychological opinion by Robert Wynne, The Sun reported

“Sadly, I realized he had become pretty controlling, fearful, and reactionary. He was verbally abusive. Our relationship is not good. It got pretty toxic,” she added.

"We occasionally text on a family group thread, but I don’t feel comfortable being around him and just hanging out. It isn’t good for my mental health right now.”

Earlier this year, the Duggar family was the subject of an Amazon Prime docuseries called “Shiny Happy People.” It focuses on Jill Dillard and examines the teachings of the Institute in Basic Life Principles. 

In addition to Jill Dillard, another now-adult Duggar child has distanced herself from her upbringing.

Jinger Duggar Vuolo discussed how she came to the conclusion that the teachings at the center of the Institute in Basic Life Principles were “not true” in an interview with The Christian Post earlier this year, where she outlined the direction of her spiritual journey going forward.

“As a believer, as somebody who really wants to glorify God and know what God thinks, know what pleases Him, I’m going to go back to the Word of God for my answers, even if that takes me years of working through what I’ve been taught and saying, ‘OK, well, I remember what this verse said, according to this teacher, but what does it actually say? What was the actual context? What is the theme of the Word of God? And what does this look like in my life? How should I live my life accordingly?”

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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