Given that they have 19 children together, it's not exactly a stretch to say that Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar approach marriage and family life a bit differently than most these days. Over the years, viewers have watched as the super-conservative Christian couple raised their brood on the reality show, 19 Kids and Counting, and now that a number of their adult children also have families of their own, it's pretty obvious that marriage is a huge priority to the family. While some of their views may be considered controversial, these five Duggar quotes on marriage show that, when it comes to relationships, the Arkansas family has pretty strong opinions on the best way to build a life-long partnership.
Although Jim Bob and Michelle aren't exactly out of the parenting trenches just yet — their youngest child, Josie, is 8 years old — they have already become well-accustomed to watching their older children walk down the aisle. Josh, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joy, and Joseph are all married now, while Josiah is currently planning his upcoming wedding to Lauren Swanson. And while their approach to finding a mate might be quite a bit different than that of the average young adult, the Duggar siblings seem to be more than happy to follow the example set for them by their parents.
They're Not Big On Long Engagements
To many couples, getting engaged and married within a year after they began dating would seem like a major whirlwind romance. But to the Duggars, it's totally normal. Eight months after beginning their courtship, according to Page Six, Jill married Derick Dillard, and Jessa tied the knot with Ben Seewald (who was then just 19 years old) less than three months after they announced their engagement, according to People. In fact, Joy-Anna and her husband, Austin Forsyth, were even rumored to have moved their wedding date up by five months so that they could get married sooner.
Why the super-short engagements? The strict rules the Duggar couples follow about physical contact prior to marriage (no kissing, no full-frontal hugs, and definitely no pre-marital sex) might have something to do with it. In 2014, Jill spoke about her engagement to Page Six, and said,
We prayed a lot, prepared and really didn’t see any reason to have a long courtship and engagement. Once we knew we wanted to get married, we didn’t want to put off the wedding for a long time and provide a stumbling block for ourselves. We purposed to save ourselves physically for each other within marriage (even our first kiss for our wedding day!), so we had a short engagement period.
Marriage & Babies Go Hand-In-Hand
For many couples, getting married and having children are considered fairly separate life events. Some married couples have no desire to have kids at all, while some couples have kids with zero desire to ever get married. And sometimes, well, you just want a few years to yourself before bringing any kids into the mix. Not so with the Duggars. With the exception of Jinger and her husband, Jeremy Vuolo, who waited a whole 14 months before announcing their pregnancy, all of the married Duggar siblings announced that they were expecting within a few months of getting hitched.
As with the quickie engagements, this likely also has to do with the family's views on sex — Michelle and Jim Bob have said they don't believe in birth control, and their children appear to be following suit — but it's also clear that, for the Duggars, having children is one of the driving reasons behind getting married in the first place. When Joy and Austin first announced their pregnancy in a video for TLC, then-19-year-old Joy said, "before we even were married, we were praying that God would give us kids." And after tying the knot with his wife, Kendra, in Sept. 2017, Joseph told People he'd always wanted to be a husband and father (unsurprisingly, the couple announced they were expecting three months later). He said,
It is an amazing feeling to be husband and wife. It’s something that I’ve always dreamed of to have a wife and to raise a family in a way that honors the lord. We are to very excited to see what God has in the future for us.
Husbands & Wives Have Pretty Traditional Roles
Jim Bob and Michelle's religious views influence pretty much every aspect of their lives, and part of that has meant they subscribe to strict rules about things like modesty and gender roles.
For one, Michelle is a firm believer that her daughters should only wear skirts and dresses, and that they should cover their bodies to avoid "defrauding" others. In 2013, Michelle Duggar discussed the family's policy of modest dress in a TLC Q&A, and said,
Our interpretation [of modesty is] that from the neck down to the knee should be covered. By keeping those private areas covered, there's not any 'defrauding' going on. My kids are taught the definition of defrauding as stirring up desires that cannot be righteously fulfilled. We don't believe in defrauding others by the way we dress.
Like her adult daughters, Michelle also doesn't work outside the home (although to be fair, raising 19 children is much more than a full-time job!), while their husbands, as well as the unmarried Duggar sons, are all encouraged to work and support their families. And when it comes to making decisions, including who their daughters can and cannot date, it's Jim Bob who gets to call the shots: according to TLC, any interested potential suitors have to get his approval first.
And Wives Are Expected To Be "Joyfully Available" To Their Husbands In The Bedroom
For a family who have so many rules about modesty and pre-marital physical contact, they are actually quite open about the importance of sex within marriage. And while that does seem like pretty valuable advice to share with their soon-to-be-married children (especially given that they won't likely have a ton of time to enjoy having sex with each other before babies begin to arrive), the Duggars' definitely have some questionable views about exactly what it means to have a healthy sex life with your spouse.
In an Oct. 2015 post on the Duggar family's website, Michelle shared some of the advice she has for newlywed couples — or, more accurately, for newlywed wives. Her very first suggestion? That women remember that their husbands have needs, and it's up to them to ensure that they are met. Michelle said,
Don’t forget [that your husband] needs you ... Be available, and not just available, but be joyfully available for him. Smile and be willing to say, ‘Yes, sweetie I am here for you,’ no matter what, even though you may be exhausted and big pregnant and you may not feel like he feels. ‘I’m still here for you and I’m going to meet that need because I know it’s a need for you.’
(Somehow, I doubt Jim Bob is passing along similar advice to the men asking for his permission to marry his daughters.
There's no question that the Duggars approach love and marriage quite a bit differently, and their views definitely aren't ones that everyone is going to agree with. But so far, it seems that married life is working out pretty well for the Duggar siblings, and while I'm not sure Jim Bob and Michelle's relationship rules are something I'd ever want to teach my own kids, it's nice to see that they all appear happy and in love.