“Jer came on the scene and I think my hesitation was mainly because of him being outside of my world,” the Counting On alum, 29, exclusively told Us Weekly ahead of the Tuesday, January 31, release of her Becoming Free Indeed memoir. “And that can be a fearful thing when you’re in that culture.”
The TLC personality — one of Jim Bob Duggar and Michelle Duggar’s 19 children, who were raised to follow minister Bill Gothard‘s ultra-conservative Institute in Basic Life Principles tenets— first met the former soccer player, now 35, in 2015. The twosome announced their courtship in June 2016, one month before Vuolo popped the question during a New York City trip.
Jinger ultimately said “yes” to the pastor’s proposal despite her initial hesitations. “I had such confidence, though,” she recalled to Us on Tuesday. “I remember coming back [from a date] and telling my mom, ‘I feel so safe with him. Like he is everything that I’ve ever wanted.’”
She continued: “He wasn’t in our setting, which is just crazy to think about, but he loved God and he was committed to the word of God and lived his life according to it. And that’s where I found, ‘OK, this guy is an awesome guy.’ It’s exactly what I’ve wanted.”
Jinger’s romance with Vuolo followed the tradition set by her elder siblings, who all courted their future spouses before tying the knot. However, before they could get to know one another, Jim Bob, now 57, needed to give his stamp of approval.
“It was intense, but I was actually pretty eager to fill it out and say, ‘OK, look, this is a good opportunity for them to get to know me,’” the former MLS athlete exclusively told Us in April 2021 of the questionnaire he received from the 19 Kids and Counting patriarch. “It’s tough for Mr. Duggar, man. He’s got all these girls [and] all these guys hanging around. I think if I had all those girls I’d probably come up with a document too.”
The reality TV alum and the Pennsylvania native wed in November 2016 in her Arkansas hometown, just five months after getting engaged. Following their nuptials, the Growing Up Duggar coauthor moved to Laredo, Texas, with her new husband before welcoming daughter Felicity in July 2018.
“Even though now I’m married and I have two beautiful girls, who are 4 and 2, my life looks totally different than I thought it would,” she told Us. “My husband has been so supportive and also like, he’s told me, ‘If you have any passions, hobbies, anything you want to do, like, I wanna make that happen for you.’”
Jinger’s book Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith From Fear is available now.
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi