The Duggars are known for doing things a little differently when it comes to relationships. The famous family from the TLC reality series 19 Kids and Counting, and later Counting On, is made up of a variety of bonds, from married couples, siblings, parents, and kids, that are each unique, but all rooted in similar family guidelines and traditions. Since Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have 19 kids, featuring several married couples with kids of their own, there are a lot of relationships to go around. And when it comes to relationship tips from the Duggars, there's no shortage of advice to share.
A lot of the relationship tips the Duggars follow developed after Jim Bob and Michelle got married. Michelle in particular was not religious as a child, but turned to a more fundamentalist form of Christianity as a teenager, according to In Touch Weekly. Michelle and Jim Bob were more traditional when they dated, according to their daughter, Jill Duggar Dillard, when she spoke about their relationship in an old 19 Kids and Counting interview. That means they didn't do the whole courtship thing that the younger Duggar couples are famous for.
As part of their more conservative lifestyle, the Duggars practice and advocate for relationship guidelines that may seem a little out-dated to the rest of us. But whatever works for them, I guess, as long as everyone involved agrees to the guidelines.
Courting, Not Dating
In the video above, Jill explained that her parents told their kids that they dated in the usual sense, but that they felt that courtship "provides a neat aspect" by comparison. All of the Duggar kids have chosen to pursue courtship, which they also call "dating with a purpose," according to TODAY.
The Duggars recommend courting in general when it comes to exploring romantic relationships, because they feel it helps you determine whether the person you're considering is someone you can see yourself marrying. It's one relationship tip that everyone in the family has followed when it comes to choosing a spouse.
Setting boundaries, particularly physical ones, is one piece of relationship advice the Duggars highly promote. Especially during courting, Michelle once told People:
You’re like two magnets being pulled together. You need boundaries.
So the Duggars set physical parameters to keep things from getting too hot and heavy before marriage.
To combat the temptation, the Duggars generally have chaperones accompany courting or engaged couples in their family, according to People. Doesn't sound all that romantic to me, but they seem to have a lot of successful marriages going on, so clearly something about setting boundaries before marriage and having someone be accountable for them works for the Duggars.
Communication Is Key
One of the Duggar relationship rules included in a People article published back in 2014 involved communication during courtship. Prior to Derick and Jill beginning their courtship, Jill said she wrote a three-page list of questions for her future husband.
Jim Bob also reportedly gives his kids' suitors a questionnaire with a ton of questions on it. Asking a lot of questions seems to be a big part of a courting relationship, but really, that's not a bad idea for any couple trying to get to know one another. But if the video linked above is how things normally go, it looks like it can be difficult for the Duggar kids to do that with their partners in a more private capacity.
Keeping The Spark Alive
Of course, courting is not the only sort of relationship that the Duggars have a lot of advice about. Jim Bob and Michelle have been married a long time, and a lot of their kids are married, and just starting to share tips about marriage from their own experiences as well.
In a 2014 interview with TODAY, Jim Bob and Michelle shared some ways in which they keep things "sexy" in a marriage that has lasted many years and persisted through almost 20 kids. For starters, Michelle said a wife should always be "available" for sex, which I personally do not agree with.
Michelle also said that she loves when Jim Bob shares "his heart with me, his struggles, his fears and his dreams," and I can see how that sort of communication could be really important in a marriage. Both Duggar parents also recommended regular date nights, which I think is a good relationship tip for any couple, whether they're just getting to know each other or whether they're parents taking a night out from the kids.
Finally, the Duggars recommend having Jesus at the center of any relationship, which isn't going to be relevant for everyone. Jill once said you shouldn't date anyone who doesn't have the same "values" as you, according to Cafe Mom. And Jinger Duggar Vuolo once said of her relationship with husband Jeremy Vuolo:
Since we began our relationship, Jeremy and I have learned that when we are walking closely with Jesus, we are closest to each other.
Now, that piece of relationship advice is obviously not going to work for every person. It certainly has no part of my relationships. But faith is obviously important to the Duggars, and for anyone who does follow a particular religion, it's safe to say some of those values and beliefs sometimes come into play in relationships — romantic or otherwise.
Relationships can be tricky, but the Duggars definitely have a lot of advice on how to make them work. A lot of their relationship tips involve courting, which won't apply to much of the general population, but the spirit of many of their tips can be used in all sorts of other relationships, too.