Jill Duggar Dillard credits her ‘soulmate’ husband Derick for supporting her through tell-all memoir

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Jill Duggar Dillard's husband, Derick, was instrumental in giving her the support and confidence she needed to break away from her reality-TV family, particularly her father, she says in her new book.

And, she says, it was her father who introduced the "19 Kids and Counting" star to her now-husband.

Jim Bob Duggar set the couple up, a courtship that Jill was hesitant about at first. Now, she calls husband Derick "my soulmate."

“He has definitely been my biggest champion and just validated me on so many levels,” the author of "Counting the Cost" tells TODAY.com in a phone interview. “He’s been there to protect me when I need somebody to step in and say, ‘This is not OK.’”

The Dillards' love story played out on reality TV as part of TLC's series "19 Kids and Counting" and "Counting On," and they went welcomed three sons after tying the knot in 2014.

The Dillards' book cover (Monique Serra Photography. / Courtesy Gallery Books)
The Dillards' book cover (Monique Serra Photography. / Courtesy Gallery Books)

Why she wrote 'Counting the Cost'

In her new memoir, "Counting the Cost," Jill Duggar Dillard describes her upbringing as one of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's 19 children. Their large family and conservative Christian views — the parents are members of a controversial, far-right Christian organization known as the Institute in Basic Life Principles, or IBLP — have been profiled in several TLC shows and specials.

The “19 Kids” series was cancelled after Jill’s older brother, Josh, admitted that he had molested girls, including his own sisters. Years later, in a separate case, he was convicted of possessing child sexual assault images and is currently serving time in federal prison.

When Jill Duggar Dillard began working on “Counting the Cost,” the former reality star says she didn’t want to relive the painful memories associated with her brother’s very public molestation scandal.

“It’s still very, very emotional and traumatic for me,” she says.

But she says writing about it made her realize that she could be an “advocate for victims” in the same way her husband has supported her over the past decade.

“Derick has definitely been that for me and supported me through this very, very difficult time,” she says.

How the Duggars treat their daughters

Throughout the book, the Dillards say the Duggar family put pressured on them to stay silent about several public scandals involving Jill Duggar Dillard’s brother, Josh Duggar.

In one passage, the mother of three says she felt like her parents protected her brother more than they protected her and her sisters after he admitted to molesting them.

“I don’t know why, but just the way that it played out and the stuff that I was expected to do versus him (felt different),” Jill Duggar Dillard tells TODAY.com.

Derick Dillard says that the way the Duggars treated their daughters versus their sons is one result of the controversial beliefs they follow.

“A lot of it goes back to the fundamental doctrines of the IBLP. Sons are pretty much treated differently than daughters on a host of things and I think that play out in our situation as well,” he says.

The Dillards (Monique Serra Photography / Courtesy Gallery Books)
The Dillards (Monique Serra Photography / Courtesy Gallery Books)

Dillard stepped in when his wife says her relationship with her father got “pretty toxic” and they cut off individual contact with him.

“(Jim Bob) knew that Jill was, not in a bad way, but very emotional, very tender hearted. So he would play to that. And I’d asked, ‘Please don’t contact her on her own, one-on-one.’ And then he had done that again. That’s when I basically said, ‘Hey, if you can’t abide by this boundary, because we’re trying to do better setting boundaries, then I’ll have to file a protective order,” he says.

How Jill and Derick Dillard support each other

"Counting the Cost" details the Dillards' love story, including the way Derek Dillard encouraged his wife to stand up for herself and push to regain control of her filming schedule and get paid for her contributions to the show.

“It’s been very, very helpful to have a supportive spouse," Jill Duggar Dillard says.

Marriage is a two-way street, and Derick Dillard, a practicing lawyer, says he's just as grateful for the support his wife has given him.

“I couldn’t do much of what we’ve done the last five-plus years without her. Being a full-time mom with three little ones 8 and under is difficult. She does that and still makes time for our dates. She basically is a lawyer as well (because) she supported me through law school," he says.

Jill Duggar Dillard is quick to note that they're just like any other couple and have their ups and downs.

“It’s not easy. It’s definitely something that you have to work on," she says.

The Dillards began attending therapy together and they say it helps them communicate better with each other and set healthy boundaries with family.

Jill Duggar Dillard's religion now

Jill Duggar Dillard famously grew up in a religious family. She and her husband have distanced themselves from the IBLP and her family, but they're not distancing themselves from Christianity. According to Derick Dillard, it’s the “most important thing” to them.

“I think people get confused and they conflate ‘religion’ with Christianity, and they think if you’re against a certain organization that’s within the guise of Christianity, like the IBLP, then you’re stepping away from religion,” Derick Dillard says. “We’re trying to put Jesus first and understand the Bible and not just listen to people who put their own spin on everything.”

The 34-year-old says he and his wife like to think of themselves as “students of the Bible” and prefer not to follow what he calls “cultural Christianity,” which can change over time.

Their faith now, he explains, "is more based on character than what you look like,” he adds.

Jill Duggar Dillard says she hopes people “dig deep” and examine the foundation of any religion before committing themselves.

“Whether it’s IBLP or another organization or religion, you just have to think for yourself. You have to really look at scripture and analyze it and say, ‘What does this actually say?’” she tells us.

So who is “Counting the Cost” really for? Was it a therapeutic exercise for the couple? A message of hope for her siblings? A way to tell their fans the truth? Jill Duggar Dillard says it’s a bit of a mix.

“I just felt like there was a need to come back and say, ‘Hey, this is how it actually is and this is how you really need to be careful about different aspects of the religious circle that I grew up in,’” she says. “And then also just relating to people in any space, where they may not have even grown up at all like I did.”

Derick Dillard says he thinks that the book is helpful for anyone who has been “hurt in the name of religion;” in a way, he says, it's for his wife's siblings.

“It’s also for people we don’t even know who just feel isolated,” he says.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com