As the Plaths’ oldest of nine children, Ethan was expected to uphold an “example” for the younger kids – obeying strict rules, such as no exposure to pop culture, no social media, and no sugar. Instead, Ethan began to follow in his wife’s footsteps as she moved away from the Christian fundamentalist faith in which they’d both been raised.
On Nov. 10, Welcome to Plathville returned to TLC for season 2. Olivia and Ethan, both now 22 and married for two years, revealed that they were no longer in contact with most of the Plath family. What’s more, the young married couple had even considered divorce already due to the constant conflict with Ethan’s parents.
Olivia and Ethan cut off all contact with Ethan’s parents
On the season premiere of Welcome to Plathville, Kim revealed that Ethan, her oldest son, had announced that he “wanted nothing to do with [his parents] ever again.”
“He didn’t want to see us, text, talk, phone call, nothing,” Kim told TLC producers.
The situation certainly led to some awkwardness, seeing that the Plath family and the young married couple now lived less than half a mile apart in the small town of Cairo, Georgia. The Plath parents and their kids – not including Ethan, Olivia, teens Micah and Moriah Plath, or Hosanna Plath, who now lives in Ohio with her husband – moved off their 55-acre farm and into town, much to Ethan’s chagrin.
“There’s a part of your heart that hurts,” Barry said of Olivia and Ethan’s decision to cut off all contact. Meanwhile, Kim called the distance between them “devastating.”
The ‘Welcome to Plathville’ stars considered divorce due to the in-law drama
Of course, there are two sides to every story – and Kim and Barry weren’t the only ones who were hurt by the ongoing family conflicts.
After Ethan began to venture out on his own and break the Plath family rules by eating sugary foods and drinking the occasional alcoholic beverage, Barry and Kim stopped allowing him to visit with their younger children without supervision. Ethan was brokenhearted, not only by the loss of his relationship with his siblings, but by his parents’ total lack of trust in him.
“It really does hurt, not being able to see them…Why am I not allowed to see my siblings unsupervised?” he mused. “We needed space as a couple, so we decided that that meant no contact with my parents.”
Olivia said the “toxic” situation with her in-laws quickly became untenable and put a strain on her marriage to Ethan.
“Divorce was definitely on the table for a couple of months,” the Welcome to Plathville star told TLC producers.
Calling the situation “stressful,” Ethan agreed with his wife’s assessment. “That strain, it got to the point where it was either separation or divorce,” he admitted.
Eventually, Olivia explained, she and Ethan realized they would have to “fight really hard” to make their marriage work – which meant cutting all the “toxic elements” out of their lives. For now, that included Ethan’s parents. The Welcome to Plathville couple said they also needed to heal as individuals before their marriage could heal as well.
Ethan admitted he should have defended his wife more
As for his own role in the family problems, Ethan had one major regret: not defending his wife against his parents’ negative remarks. When his father told him he would never fully accept Olivia as she was, Ethan wished he had spoken up more instead of staying silent. In that way, the 22-year-old felt he’d failed his wife and eroded some of the trust between them.
“Basically, what my dad told me in his own words was that they could not accept her,” the Welcome to Plathville star said sadly. “That’s one thing I do really regret, is that I tried to keep the peace when I should have said, ‘Don’t treat my wife like this. Don’t talk to my wife like this.’”
Now, Olivia and Ethan were in a better place. But their relationship was certainly not fully healed.
“We’re not all better. We’re not perfect. We’re not there,” Olivia confessed. “But we’re working on it.”
Mainly, that involved spending more one-on-one time together and “staying away from the family drama” as much as they could.