Counting On star Jinger Duggar may be totally in love with former soccer pro Jeremy Vuolo, but she still has to follow the family's guidelines.
The courtship rules, to be exact.
In a sneak peek at Tuesday’s episode of the TLC reality show, Jinger is reunited with her husband-to-be, with whom she is hot and heavy.
By Duggar standards, anyway ...
Before they set out on a trip, the Duggars believe the two lovebirds need a refresher on the famous family's vaunted courting rules.
“Set your physical boundaries and stick to them,” says Derick Dillard, Jill's possibly ailing husband. “Even if it means having chaperones.”
“Focus on getting to know each other as a person,” adds Ben Seewald, Jessa's husband, who goes on to spell it out even more clearly:
“[Save] the physical intimacy for after the wedding day.”
Whether Vuolo truly agrees with this or not, he's sticking to the company line, saying he really “appreciates the idea” of having chaperones.
“I think it’s wise and it’s certainly fun,” he says.
It's especially true, he adds, "when you have chaperones like [Jinger’s] brothers and sisters who you want to be around anyway.”
Those who watch Counting On online know that Jinger's domineering father, Jim Bob Duggar, has been a human roadblock as well.
The Duggar family patriarch seems to only grudgingly approve of the pastor, or at least he thinks Jinger is moving too fast with him.
Fans seem to share that concern in large part, but as far as Jim Bob's reservations are concerned, if anything he's brought them closer.
While there's no doubt that JinJer is moving inadvisably fast by conventional standards, their bond is closer than you'd expect, as well.
For two people forbidden to engage in virtually all forms of physical contact, per the Duggar courtship rules, they appear rock solid.
"Jinger and Jeremy seem to have a very strong physical connection, despite their courtship restrictions," one relationship expert said.
That sends a powerful message to everyone involved.
"By putting his arm around Jinger, Jeremy created a visual and physical boundary between the couple and Jinger's parents."
"He's asserting himself as the primary male in her life."
That's an important point worth considering here:
Whether he likes it or not, Jim Bob has officially taken a backseat to Jeremy as the most important man in Jinger's life, for good.
In that sense, whether or not Jinger is breaking courtship rules with premarital arm touching or full-on frontal hug action is academic.
"Jeremy appears to be taking Jim Bob's skepticism in stride and is handling himself well, given the situation," the expert said of Vuolo.
Bottom line? Both parties are more or less alright with the rules imposed by Jinger's parents, even if they break from tradition in minor ways.
Jim Bob may not be used to a man as self-confident and assertive as Jeremy, and Jinger is more of a rebel than Jana, Jill or Jessa.
Moreover, the two are (very) soon to be married anyway.
This romance is on the fast track by Duggar standards, so expect a wedding soon, and therefore, the courtship issue to be largely moot.
So there shouldn't be much of a long-term issue, right?
All we would advise Jinger is to prioritize self-reflection.
By taking the time to reflect on their own hopes and dreams for the future, and charting a path that's uniquely theirs, they should be fine.
At least that's our hope for the smitten duo.