Duck Dynasty's Robertson clan has a reputation as one of the most devout, moralistic families on reality TV. But they're the first to admit they've made mistakes in the past. Those mistakes are the subject of Alan and Lisa Robertson's just-published book, A New Season: A Robertson Family Love Story of Brokenness and Redemption, which details the couple's tumultuous history.
In the book, out now from Howard Books, Alan and his wife recount their rough teen years before elaborating on the 14-month affair that nearly destroyed their marriage. Alan was a bit of a wild child in his youth, and was drinking and doing drugs by the time he was 15. Lisa, meanwhile, struggled with issues of her own — namely, a male relative who molested her on and off for seven years. She also had an abortion at age 17, something she says she now regrets.
The two dated for a bit in high school, but their relationship ultimately fell victim to Alan's destructive behavior. When they reunited more than a year later, both had grown a lot. They married not long after and now have two kids — but things almost fell apart in 1999, when Lisa had an extended affair with an old boyfriend.
Us Weekly caught up with the A&E stars on Wednesday, Jan. 7, to talk about the book, their relationship, and what they've learned from their mistakes.
Us: Lisa, you shared some of the toughest parts of your past in a previous book, The Women of Duck Commander. Why did you want to revisit those parts in depth in a second book?
LR: We wanted to write our story, and [my past] has everything to do with our story. We just wanted to put it out there — the good, the bad, the ugly, but also what God has healed us from and brought us through.
AR: It makes our story even more compelling to realize everything that affected us and our relationship really started way back, before Lisa and I ever met, when she was a girl and I was a boy.
Us: There are some pretty raw stories about your teenage years — premarital sex, drinking, drug use...Were you worried about how people who know your family from TV would react?
AR: You know, I really wasn't, and I think it's mainly because I've always been so open about it. To your point, I realize there are people out there who only see us through the lens of the show...but it really happened, it really was who I was. And then I became something different...I want people to know that if you're in some bad place, I've been there, and I know the way out.
Us: Lisa, you shared for the first time in this book about having an abortion and the guilt you felt over that. Why did you feel that was important to include?
LR: I thought it was important to include because there are people out there who this has happened to...I had one girl tell me she has cried herself to sleep just about every night for the last 25 years after having an abortion, and nobody else knows about it. She regretted it all this time, but she just can't seem to find a place of healing from it. So I thought it was a very unique thing for somebody who is in our position to say, "Look, I did this. And you can find healing and comfort from Jesus in it."
Us: Alan, you talk about how some family members told you to leave Lisa after her affair. Was that a challenge, to not only get that counsel from them but also choose to go against it?
AR: It was really hard. It was one of the most difficult things our family has ever gone through...What I will say is that once I made the decision that I was in a place where I could forgive Lisa and I wanted our marriage to work, they got on board behind me. It took a little while for each of them in their individual way to work through their issues with Lisa, but they did. And now we're very close and they're very close to her.
Us: Lisa, was it difficult knowing that some of them had told him to walk away?
LR: More than anything, it was difficult for me to be around them knowing they felt that way. But eight or nine months after everything happened, I sent each of them a note, apologizing for how I hurt them and how I hurt Alan, asking for their forgiveness, for our relationship to be back on good footing. That worked out really well.
Us: In the book, you share some of your marriage guidelines or tips for other couples. What are some of the most important ones?
LR: Honesty. I think that whenever you go into a marriage, you should be totally honest with the person that you're with...Throughout the marriage, I was never really truthful about who I was with Alan, and it almost devastated our relationship. To me, honesty is the most important thing. Because if I cannot be honest with my husband, how can I be honest with myself or with God or my friends?
AR: Forgiveness — not just when something bad happens, but also for smaller things. You have to be willing to offer forgiveness for things someone does to hurt you in a relationship...I made a vow 15 years ago about this; I promised God and Lisa that I would never use the affair to hurt her and hurt us, and 15 years later, I've kept it.
The new season of Duck Dynasty premieres Wednesday, Jan. 7, at 9:30 p.m. on A&E.