The famously fertile Duggar family from TLC's Counting On has made a name for themselves for following a strict set of rules when it comes to romance. Those rules all basically boil down to one: no physical romance until after you're married. Period. Which could possibly explain why the Duggar kids like to get married so young, although I'm just guessing here. Not that their parents are complaining; Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar actively take a role in their kids love lives once they've met the person who will one day be their spouse. But how do the Duggars even meet their spouses in the first place?
Every couple has their own specific story of how they first met, of course, but the Duggar family does tend to adhere to a certain pattern of behavior when it comes to falling in love. For instance, if a boy happens to show an interest in one of the Duggar daughters, he has to go through dad Jim Bob Duggar before moving forward. Jim Bob spends time with the boy and makes sure he shares a similar set of values to the Duggars, and only after he gives his permission can the boy in question officially begin courting, as People explains.
What does courting entail? Texting is allowed, as long as the Duggar parents are CC'd on the texts, according to People. Side hugs are allowed, and any time together must be chaperoned, the publication notes. While these are the rules for the Duggar kids, you've got to wonder what it was like when Jim Bob and Michelle were dating? How did they meet?
Jim Bob might exert his paternal control over his children's courtships, but when it came to meeting Michelle, they were just a couple of crazy high school kids who met when Michelle was working at a yogurt shop. According to a blog post Michelle wrote for TLC, she was working with Jim Bob's mother at the time:
Jim Bob came in and asked me if I would go to the junior/senior banquet with him. He was a year older, so he was graduating that year. My friend that worked with me knew him and said he was a really sweet guy. So I took her word for it -- but I really didn't know who this guy was! Anyway, I agreed.
The night arrived, and Jim Bob picked her up at her house, where he proceeded to "sit in the living room for four hours with my parents and talk about scripture," according to Michelle's post. And the rest is history.
Jessa Duggar met Ben Seewald in a more classic, Duggar-esque fashion — at church, according to TLC. Ben's parents had known the Duggars for a few years and lived in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Seewalds were invited over for fellowship after church, and Ben found himself sitting with Jim Bob. As Michelle told TLC:
You know, you've been bringing up a lot of these truths from the scripture. This is a topic that we've actually been talking about in our home and Jessa has really been studying this very thing. You guys would probably enjoy talking about it. So why don't you text her?
He did text her, and eventually asked Jim Bob if he could court his daughter. Ben and Jessa have been happily married since November 2014 and are parents to two sweet little boys: 2-year-old Spurgeon and baby Henry, who was born February 2017.
Jinger actually has her sister Jessa and brother-in-law Ben to thank for meeting husband, former professional soccer player Jeremy Vuolo. The couple met Jeremy while visiting San Antonio and eventually invited him to meet the rest of the family, according to People. Jeremy, who is an ordained minister, told People that he initially met Jinger in May 2015, but it wasn't until the two traveled on a mission trip together that Jinger really fell in love with Jeremy. As Jinger told the publication:
It was there that I really saw his heart and really admired his character.
Jeremy asked Jim Bob for his permission to court Jinger in December of 2015, and the couple were married in front of 1,000 guests in November 2016, according to People. Jinger now lives in Texas, away from the Duggar brood.
According to TLC, Jill Dillard technically met her husband Derick when he came caroling at her family home in Arkansas in 2011, but neither of them really remember meeting each other that day. It seems Derick only had eyes for Jim Bob. As Jill wrote on the couple's wedding website, according to Us Weekly:
Neither of us remembers each other specifically from that time; all I have is a vague memory of the group of people who came. Not long after this, Derick contacted my dad and asked if he would be a prayer partner during his two-year term in Nepal.
After that, the two began emailing, texting, and talking via Skype while Derick was doing humanitarian work in Nepal, according to Us Weekly. Which was just fine with Jim Bob, because he was apparently already harboring a secret wish for the two to get married. By November 2013, Jill and Derick had been talking for a few years and she and Jim Bob traveled to Nepal so the couple could fall in love in real life. By March 2014, Derick was back in Arkansas and proposed to Jill. The two were married in June of that year, and are now parents to two sons, 2-year-old Israel and baby Samuel.
Joy-Anna Duggar met her future husband when she was just 4 years old; she and Austin Forsyth first met 15 years before they were married when his family moved to Arkansas and, you guessed it, joined the Duggars' church. The two grew to love each other as friends over the years, and it seems they loved each other as something more as of November 2016. Austin asked if he could court Joy-Anna last year, according to People, and the two were married in May 2017. They are currently expecting their first child together.
Much like his sister Joy-Anna, Joseph Duggar knew his future bride, Kendra Caldwell, for a long time before eventually getting hitched. He told People:
Our families are close friends through church and this has allowed Kendra and me to get to know each other. She’s the best!
Joseph began courting Kendra in March of this year, and actually proposed at his sister Joy-Anna's wedding in May. The pair were married in September, and recently announced that they're expecting their first child.
One thing you can safely say about the Duggars; once they set their minds to getting married, s**t gets done.
Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.