Sweet Home Oklahoma's Jennifer Welch and Josh Welch's 17-year relationship hasn't exactly taken the most traditional route. After getting together in 2000, marrying in 2006, and then divorcing in 2013, the couple then decided to reconcile and are now living together with their two sons, Dylan and Roman, in Oklahoma City.
Jennifer opened up about the ups and downs of her relationship with Josh during a recent interview with PEOPLE. The Sweet Home Oklahoma designer said that Josh's relapse after a lifelong struggle with drug addiction is what drove them to divorce. "He relapsed and we had a really candid conversation. ‘Do you want to go back to rehab? Do you want to start therapy again?’ And he didn’t — he didn’t want to,” she said. “I was heartbroken. I was devastated, but I knew I had to protect as much as I could: the children, our finances, our home.”
Jennifer added, “It was the breakup of our family. It leveled me." She said that she had “really firm boundaries” with Josh and wouldn't let him see their kids unless he passed a drug test, “which he couldn’t,” she told PEOPLE.
Josh finally got sober after two back-to-back stints at rehab in California in the summer of 2015. “When he came home, I could just tell he was sober. And I was like, ‘There you are!’" Jennifer said. "I missed him. I missed that guy."
After that, Jennifer said she decided to "give it another try" with Josh, which has been a positive move for the whole family. “For Josh, after our divorce and really not seeing the kids very much for well over a year — a year-and-a-half pushing on two — for him, he wanted to be a father more than he wanted to use drugs. … His recovery has been his family,” Jennifer said. “Having lost it and getting it back again and getting his relationship restored with his children, that has really, really helped his recovery and his sobriety immensely.”
Jennifer explained that being open about Josh's past with substance abuse as a family — and now with Sweet Home Oklahoma fans — has helped them all be able to successfully move forward. “The worst thing an addict can feel is shame and that’s what keeps everybody in the closet about it and we’re not ashamed. The boys are not ashamed. They know that their father was a drug addict, is a drug addict, will always be a drug addict, and we want to — if we can — help other people remove that stigma that there’s shame associated with it,” she said. “And it is a disease that people do not choose to have. Those are the things that have helped me forgive him, knowing those things.”
Check out what's in store for Jennifer, Josh, and the rest of the Sweet Home Oklahoma gang this season, below.