The former TLC star says her goals would be squashed if they conflicted with the network or family's plans

It’s been three years since Jill (Duggar) Dillard quietly walked away from reality TV fame, and now the former TLC star is opening up about her decision.

"We just wanted more control of our own lives," Jill, 29, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "There was a certain job that we had been working towards for, even before we were married, that was taken away from us."

When similar situations continued to occur, Jill and her husband Derick Dillard, who is now in his final year of law school, say they got fed up. "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,'" says Derick, 31.

After being a prominent fixture on the family's first TLC series, 19 Kids and Counting, which documented the highly-religious, ultra-conservative Duggar household from 2008 until its cancellation in 2015, Jill went on to star in the subsequent spinoff, Counting On. But in 2017 she left altogether.

  • For more on Jill Duggar, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
jill duggar
Credit: Larsen + Talbert

When the couple told the network and Jill's family about their decision, "It didn't go over very well with anyone," she says. "By that point we'd had enough. We knew we had to pull out completely to reevaluate and get our bearings."

When reached by PEOPLE, TLC declined to comment, and Jill's parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar provided the following 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!"

19 kids and counting
Duggar family
| Credit: Splash

At the time, the couple say they began therapy to help navigate and find a resolution to the family conflict, but discovered it was beneficial in unexpected ways. "We were so grateful when it evolved into so much more than that," says Jill. "We became more focused on our own lives and healing. Looking back now, we wish we would have started sooner."

Now, the pair are sharing more of their lives on their Dillard Family blog and on their Dillard Family official YouTube page, where they say they're glad to tell their own story.

They're also doing what's best for themselves and their children, Jill says.

"I never expected this to happen or for it to get to this point," she says. "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."