Absence makes the heart grow fonder … especially if you're a Duggar. The main focus of Counting On's Tuesday, September 13, episode was Jinger Duggar's budding courtship with Jeremy Vuolo. Though Jim Bob seemed to have some reservations about his daughter's potential mate, he and his wife, Michelle, accompanied Jinger to Laredo, Texas, to get a better idea of what Jeremy had to offer (or not). Jeremy's parents also flew in for the occasion — so, you know, no pressure.
Upon arrival, Jinger gave Jeremy a homemade piece of nail art (not the salon kind) that linked Texas and Arkansas with a string. Because Jinger couldn't find a hammer, she pounded the hundreds of nails into the wooden plate with a wrench, which made the process much more time-consuming than necessary. Jeremy said it was "exquisite" — but it's safe to say that she could have given him a wad of garbage, and he would have given the same review.
Checking Out the Bachelor Pad
One of the gang's first stops was Jeremy's apartment, which at the moment was a bachelor pad, but might not be if things continued on their upward trajectory. As Jim Bob and Michelle wandered through the modest home, one thing caught Jinger's eye right away: Jeremy's "massive bed."
The two did a lot of side-hugging (remember: front-hugging is not allowed) and snuggled on the sofa as he played a song he'd recorded for her. That's right — they snuggled on the sofa. In front of their parents. With his arm draped around her shoulders. Dun, dun, dun!
Surprisingly, not one of the parents said a thing about the unusual physical contact, though a producer couldn't help but pry. Asked about the suggestive arm-drape (by Duggar standards, that is), Jinger shrugged and said, "Jeremy and I have our own set of rules for the courtship, and our own standards that we desire." Jeremy, on the other hand, simply played dumb, claiming he was unclear on the rules of "most courtships" and felt that the important thing was the intention behind the rules they'd invented for themselves. In other words, he was planning on marrying her, so he should be allowed to touch her shoulder. That's not completely crazy …
In Other News
Jill and Derick Dillard were busy with their ministry efforts abroad, and Jill had discovered a passion for ministering specifically to young moms whose husbands either cheated on them or drank too much, or both. She was definitely on a girl-power mission to encourage women to help other women, while Derick enjoyed the solitude of their back porch as he wrote sermons. Their son occupied his time waddling around the apartment and eating as much as possible, whenever possible.
Back in the States, John David took Joy on a flying lesson because she was considering a career as a pilot. Joy didn't love the turbulence, but did a reasonable job at least not freaking out and getting in his way. (He is a licensed pilot, just in case that wasn't clear.) "I think Joy has what it takes," he said. "It's just a matter of if she's willing to do it." Based on Joy's facial expressions, it seemed that she's not, but only time will tell.
Jim Bob Gives Some Advice and (Maybe) a Warning
On day two of the families' visit to Laredo, Jeremy took everyone around the downtown area, where he showed off his knowledge of local restaurants and architecture. Jinger admittedly didn't hear a thing Jeremy said because she was too preoccupied just staring at him. The former pro soccer player didn't seem to mind.
For fun, Jim Bob suggested they check out a local pawn shop, and was shocked to find so many engagement rings just waiting to be tried on by his little girl. (According to Jim Bob, pawn shops in Arkansas are full of musical instruments and don't carry much jewelry. Hmm.) "Don't get any ideas now," the patriarch said as Jinger's eyes became about as wide as saucers while she checked out the bling. "I didn't want them trying on ring sizes or anything at this point," Jim Bob later explained to the camera.
Jinger realized that the thought of her moving so far from the family was probably hard for her dad. Her mother agreed.
Then came dinner. Jim Bob casually steered the conversation toward the fact that Jeremy currently lived on a "modest pastor salary," which probably wouldn't be enough to support Jinger's passion for thrift shopping. "Jinger loves to go thrift shopping, and it's expensive!" her dad said.
"Thrift shopping is expensive?" Jeremy asked, surprised.
Jim Bob then helpfully suggested Jeremy get a part-time job to supplement his income. Neither Jeremy nor Jinger had any response for that. Her dad then complained that Laredo was hot, and asked Jeremy if he'd ever considered moving to Arkansas. It was pretty clear that Jeremy hadn't.
"It's kind of like you're on the gas pedal, and I'm on the brake pedal. You're still getting to know each other. You're at two months — two months and counting," Jim Bob said before adding, "I just don't think they're at the place to swap spit yet." He glanced at Jeremy for effect. Trying to divert everyone's attention to something else, Jeremy handed out authentic Mexican candy, which everyone clearly hated.
Get Me to the Church on Time
Jeremy then led everyone to see the church where he was currently working. It was basically a ramshackle house with some animal paintings on the walls in the nursery. "I love it. It's amazing," Jinger declared. "I can't wait to join in on it."
At the end of the visit, Jeremy's parents gave their blessing, saying they had "every confidence in the world that Jinger is the gift" their son had been praying for. Jim Bob withheld such glowing reviews … for now.
Jinger was visibly distraught when the time came to head back home, but knew she had to get back to attend the high school graduation party for Jeremiah, Jedediah and Joy, who were all matriculating from the Duggar Academy, literally. They each received diplomas with Duggar Academy at the top, in university-style font.
After they left, Jeremy promised he would be seeing Jinger a lot "sooner than she expected."
Tell Us: What do you think of Jinger and Jeremy as a couple? And is her dad overly hard on Jinger's man?
Counting On airs on TLC Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET.
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