When the Duggar family first entered American living rooms via their TLC show 19 Kids and Counting, people seemed to be immediately enthralled with their lifestyle. As devout Baptists, they lead an unconventional and super conservative lifestyle, so Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's marriage advice might not be for everyone. Or even anyone outside of their own family, given their highly regimented ways of looking at how families are made and maintained.
For example, they don't believe in unchaperoned courtship. So when one of the Duggar children is introduced to someone their father thinks will be a good mate, they can only get to know that person in a group setting. According to the Daily Mail, Jim Bob uses a 50-page questionnaire to vet his daughters' life partners, though he's not all that conservative — male suitors are allowed to hold hands with the Duggar daughters and put an arm around each other, in a break from tradition.
This kind of vetting and courtship model really reinforces traditional gender roles, in which there is a hierarchy of power in the couple, and often the women end up being subservient to their male partners. In that case, Jim Bob and Michelle's marriage advice might make your stomach turn, though when it comes to relationships, everyone should always do what's best for them, right?
Always Say Yes To Sex
Jim Bob's top marriage tip according to TLC is to "multiply." To do that Michelle suggests having sex even when you're tired. She told TODAY that a friend told her back in 1984:
In your marriage there will be times you're going to be very exhausted. Your hubby comes home after a hard day's work, you get the baby to bed, and he is going to be looking forward to that time with you. Be available. Anyone can fix him lunch, but only one person can meet that physical need of love that he has, and you always need to be available when he calls.
Please note that there is a major difference between consenting to sex even when you're tired — what some might call "maintenance sex" — and marital rape. If one partner is too tired and literally does not want to have sex, a partner should never force their partner into "just doing it" by telling them their marriage will end if not or that there's a religious obligation to procreate. According the National Domestic Hotline, forcing someone to have sex while tired or sick or manipulating you into sex is considered sexual abuse.
Treat Your Wife Like A Queen
Jim Bob told TODAY, "That's key in a relationship, the husband needs to cherish his wife and always treat his wife like a queen." He added that some ways of doing that are to send "I love you" texts or even make sure he's always asking what kind of "home repair projects" he can do for her. Michelle once said in a TLC video that the wife should be her husband's "biggest cheerleader" and never doubt him.
For couples that don't abide by the Duggars' idea of gender roles and traditional marriage, this can also be known as mutual respect and equal labor in the household.
Always Pray Together
Michelle recommends that each member of the couple have their own relationship with God. "The closer we each get to God, the closer we each get to each other," she told Us Weekly in 2016. On his blog, Jim Bob also recommends praying together and ensuring that the husband is the spiritual "leader" and "coach" in the family.
Make Sure You Talk To Each Other
Michelle has lauded her husband's ability to open up with her. She told TODAY:
He shares his heart with me, his struggles, his fears and his dreams. Many men would not do that, but God's word says that before honor comes humility. When he learns to humble himself before God and me, it builds him up so much in my eyes.
Likewise, Jim Bob advises husbands, "Learn to listen to the heart of your wife and allow her to communicate her concerns and dreams with you on a daily basis."
Make Time For Date Nights
The Duggars make sure that they go on date nights every week to check in with each other. The couple told Us Weekly, "Go out on regular dates and enjoy each other’s company."
Find The Positive
Jim Bob told TLC that a husband should compliment his wife and kids 10 times for every time he criticizes them (although he doesn't explain why he'd be criticizing in the first place). According to Us Weekly, there's more to it than that. "Never say put downs or negative name calling, but instead, praise each other with a grateful spirit,” they said, according to the publication.
Never Get Divorced
A source close to the family told People in 2015, "Divorce is not even something that will be discussed," no matter what scandals or troubles come their way.
Every marriage is different and personal, so take whatever advice makes sense for you.
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