Jinger Duggar and Husband Jeremy Vuolo Detail Why Their Romance Almost Didn't Happen in New Book
"As I talked to Mom and Dad that night, I suddenly knew I couldn't do it. I couldn't start a relationship with Jeremy," Jinger Duggar writes in her new book with husband Jeremy Vuolo, The Hope We Hold
(Most recently, the couple spoke out after her older brother Josh Duggar's arrest last week, saying in a joint statement, "We are disturbed to hear of the charges against Josh. While this case must go through the legal system, we want to make it clear that we absolutely condemn any form of child abuse and fully support the authorities and judicial process in their pursuit of justice." Josh has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.)
In their new book, The Hope We Hold: Finding Peace in the Promises of God, out Tuesday, the Counting On stars reveal details about their love story, including that their marriage almost didn't happen.
In June 2016, PEOPLE exclusively revealed that Jinger, one of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's 19 children, was courting the former professional soccer player. That July, the couple were engaged — happy news that came just a few months before they said "I do" in front of nearly 1,000 guests at a televised wedding officiated by Jeremy's father, Chuck, in November.
And now, the pair, who are currently residing in Los Angeles with daughters Felicity, 2, and 5-month-old Evangeline Jo, are giving fans an even bigger behind-the-scenes look at their backgrounds and life stories — including the moment Jinger, 27, lost feelings for Jeremy, 33, before they ultimately entered into a courtship — in their new book.
Below, PEOPLE has an exclusive excerpt, which details why Jinger initially felt she "couldn't start a relationship with Jeremy" and how he took the "crushing" news.
I was numb as I sat in the empty dorm room. Sitting on the bed, I leaned against the dark wooden headboard and closed my eyes. I wanted to feel something, anything. But I couldn't.
This is crazy! I thought. What is wrong with me?
None of this made any sense. I thought back to Sunday night, to the butterflies I'd felt when I saw Jeremy's car pull into the conference campground on the edge of campus. The conversation flowed easily, and I was as drawn to him as ever. We spent most of Monday together, and Mom and Dad even took us out for chicken tacos at a Mexican-Italian fusion restaurant called Stinky Fat Boys. It wasn't a romantic name for a restaurant, but we had the best time. I practically floated to my dorm on a cloud after saying goodnight to him.
Then, for reasons I couldn't understand, something shifted. As I talked to Mom and Dad that night, I suddenly knew I couldn't do it. I couldn't start a relationship with Jeremy. Something was weighing on me. There were so many conflicting opinions, and I felt like I would divide my family and friends if I moved forward. If I said yes to Jeremy, I would open the floodgates to other people's opinions and criticism. My heart was hardened. It felt like I wasn't myself and something beyond my control was happening.
Now, as I knew Dad was telling Jeremy the bad news, I couldn't even bring myself to feel empathy for him. The room seemed dark, even though it was morning.
Why can't I like him now? I thought. I've wanted this for so long. All this time, I've looked forward to this moment. Why can't I go through with it?
"Jinge, what is going on?" Mom and Jessa had asked me. They knew how much I cared for Jeremy, how excited I'd been to see him at the conference. It was no secret in our house that I'd fallen hard for him, and everybody expected us to start our relationship this week. "What is it exactly that's changed?" All I could do was shake my head. "I don't know," I said with no emotion. "I don't know why. It doesn't make sense. I have no reason for it, I just can't do it."
I practically floored the gas pedal as I drove down the Texas highway. I didn't know where I was going. All I knew was I had to get out of there, away from the dorm room where Mr. Duggar had delivered the crushing news, away from the campus where I thought my relationship with Jinger would begin.
Anger and confusion overwhelmed me. I'd fallen victim to the ultimate bait and switch. If Jinger wasn't interested, the previous five months had all been a wild-goose chase. Lord, what is going on? I prayed. I've wasted half a year of my life! I'm pastoring a church, I'm pursuing Christ, and now I'm getting jerked around. I don't have time for this! I was ticked.
My thoughts were interrupted by my phone vibrating in my pocket. It was Ben.
"Dude, what is going on?" he asked. "Jinger said no?"
He convinced me to come back to the campus and pick him up. I sat dejected as he climbed in the car.
"Let me talk to her," Jessa said. "There's got to be a way we can fix this." I shrugged. "Sure. But I've got to get out of here."
Ben and I took off, leaving Jessa to meet with Jinger. We drove for an hour and a half to, of all places, a cemetery. I'd heard that several heroes of the faith were buried at Garden Valley Cemetery, including Keith Green, a Christian musician, and Leonard Ravenhill, an evangelist and author. I had already planned to visit at some point, but it probably wasn't the best spot for someone in the middle of heartbreak. On our way home, we stopped for coffee at a shop ironically called The Journey.
"Ben, take a picture of me sitting outside this coffee spot," I said, "because I've been on a journey."
We returned to find Jessa utterly bewildered.
"I can't figure it out," she said, shaking her head. "She said she's confused, and she doesn't understand why, but she doesn't want to go forward."
I made up my mind right then that I wasn't leaving. If she had said, "He's a jerk and I don't like him," I'd be hurt, but I'd understand. But to hear that she was confused and couldn't do it told me there was hope. If there was some kind of misunderstanding, it was nothing that couldn't be overcome.
Excerpted from The Hope We Hold by Jinger and Jeremy Vuolo. (Copyright 2021) Used with permission from Worthy Books, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
The Hope We Hold: Finding Peace in the Promises of God is out now.
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