Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell are loving their post-Bachelor life together in Denver, but they’ve gotten some criticism online for living together before marriage.
“I think it's fair,” Higgins told ET. “I think a lot of people are judging us for that because of our faith, and we don’t hide the fact that we're Christians.”
The former Bachelor and his fiancée spoke with ET at a party for their new Freeform reality show, Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?, where Higgins explained why they made the decision for Bushnell to move into the home he owned.
“Our life had really started out so abnormally, and it was going to be very difficult for us to spend time together with how fast our lives were moving,” he said. “Any amount of time we could be together to get to know each other better, which I think God would desire for us to do before we make that ultimate commitment."
The series premiered on Oct. 11 as Freeform’s No. 2 reality show to date in total viewers, but its stars got critiqued over the premiere too; many fans noted that the episode focused heavily on Higgins’ ex, Bachelorette JoJo Fletcher. In that first ep, Higgins and Bushnell headed to Fletcher’s taping of After the Final Rose and argued over how to handle the situation. In Happily Ever After?’s second episode, they got brunch with Fletcher and her fiancé, Jordan Rodgers. But Higgins and Bushnell assured ET that it’s an arc that will wrap quickly.
“The storyline initially is ‘Are we going to be able to move past JoJo or not?’” Higgins said. “I think that's a fair storyline, because it's something that was a part of our life for a long time. … But [people will] see us move on.”
Bushnell and Fletcher remain friends, and Bushnell reveals she reached out to Fletcher after the show premiered. “She and I are great,” she said. “I didn’t want her to think she was being shed in a negative light, because that's not how it is at all.”
Bushnell said she was most afraid of the public’s reaction to those first two episodes, though Higgins admitted that he’s wary about an episode that's still to come. “We went to couples’ counseling and … it did get very emotional,” he says. “That's a very intimate moment for me and for Lauren, so that's something I’m probably just not going to watch.”
Still, good times are ahead. The pair is moving forward with wedding planning, and next up is a first for them: a vacation without cameras! “We’re just going to go hang out on an island,” Bushnell said. For more on the pair’s relationship, watch ET's interview with them from one of their favorite restaurants in Denver below!