The Duggars are just one of those families people can't look away from. Even though some people don't agree with everything they do, they can't help but get sucked back in whenever they announce another wedding, courtship or baby. There is just something so fascinating about watching a family of 21 with extreme religious and conservative views navigate the modern world of reality TV.
And where did it all begin? Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar. The matriarch and patriarch of the Duggar clans are the ones that started it all. They first appeared on TV when they only had a mere 13 kids. The cameras loved them and they shot to fame once they started to bring home babies 17 through 19. And even though Jim Bob is often seen as the king of the family, it's really Michelle who is making it all happen. After all, it was she who gave birth to 19 kids, not Jim Bob.
Despite her old school hairstyle, constant smile, and sickeningly sweet voice, fans often think there's something shady or suspicious going on with Michelle. Well, let's get to the bottom of it.
17 Michelle Got Married At 17
Michelle got married at the ripe old age of 17. Now, these days, many of the Duggars are getting married at 19 or 20, and viewers feel that's very young. It's especially young when you think of these young brides getting pregnant on their honeymoons. But married at 17? Now that is REALLY young. Jim Bob and Michelle tied the knot when he was 19 and she was just 17. She had just graduated from high school. So naturally, once you have your high school diploma in hand, what else are you going to do but get married? College wasn't in the cards for either Jim Bob or Michelle. The two met through the church in the early 1980s. They officially tied the knot on July 21, 1984, and have been together ever since.
16 She Used Birth Control In The Early Years Of Her Marriage
One of the most controversial facts about Michelle is that she actually used birth control in the early years of her marriage. It's controversial because she has raised all of her children while teaching them to not use birth control at all. Well, here's what happened. Jim Bob and Michelle decided, rightfully so, that they didn't want to be parents at 19 and 17. So, like many couples, they used birth control after they first got married. However, during that time, they ended up getting pregnant and the pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage. Jim Bob and Michelle believed the birth control was the cause of them losing their baby. After that, they swore off of birth control and decided to have as many children as God wanted them to have.
15 At 43 Years Old, Michelle Still Wanted More Kids
It's well known that Jim Bob and Michelle were shooting for 20 children of their own. Sadly, their last baby, Jubilee, was born prematurely and didn't survive. So they only made it to 19. But even after giving birth to her last child at the age of 43, bringing the total to 19, Michelle was game to add even more to their brood. She had no regard for the medical risks for her and the baby after her previous difficulties. Josie, the Duggars' youngest, was born four months premature and had to stay in the hospital for a long time. Even still, Michelle said, "We would love more! I’m 43, almost 44, this September, I know that my mommy years are probably numbered and I don’t know how many more children God will see fit to give me."
14 She Believes You Always Have To Be Available To Your Husband
One aspect of the Duggars' beliefs that turn a lot of people off is their choice to make the husband the king and to put his needs first. There's no such thing as an equal partnership in the Duggar household. And Michelle made that abundantly clear when she told the media that as a wife, she must always be available to her husband. Cue eye roll here. Michelle said, "[My friend] said, '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." To be clear ladies, this is not actually your job. Your husband is able to meet all of his needs on his own.
13 They Abstain After Birth
You'd probably think that with 19 kids, there's no way Michelle and Jim Bob weren't constantly trying to conceive. But apparently, even these two took a break every now and then. Obviously, it wasn't when Michelle was feeling tired as a mom of so many and likely pregnant with the next. We know that she believes in being available, no matter how exhausted she is. But the Duggars do abstain after the baby is born. And, the length of time depends on the sex of the baby. If they have a girl, they abstain for 80 days. And if it's a boy, they abstain for 40 days. Note that most doctors will advise a time of abstinence, usually around 6 weeks, in order to give the mom time to heal and recuperate.
12 They Have A Date Night Every Saturday – Who Is Watching The Kids?
Apparently, Jim Bob and Michelle have a date night every Saturday night. Now, this is admirable. Many couples with one or two kids, or even those with no kids, struggle to find time for a date night every week. How are the Duggars doing it? I understand how they could do it these days. Now, their youngest is almost 10 years old and they have older children living at home who can babysit. But in those early years, when they had nine kids under the age of ten, how did they have a date night? Did they just lock themselves in the pantry for an hour and ignore all the screaming and crying? Did they pay a team of babysitters to come over and take shifts? Is Grandma Duggar a superhero who is able to take care of that many young kids?
11 Will They Be Getting An HGTV Show Soon?
Fun fact: Both Jim Bob and Michelle are licensed real estate agents. In addition to their successful TLC shows, the Duggars have also worked in the used-car business, towing and real estate. They own a number of homes in their Arkansas area and make money renting them out or flipping them. So are we destined to see an HGTV show with mom and pop Duggar? It sounds like a possibility! Once Counting On gets canceled, it only makes sense for Michelle and Jim Bob to head over to the next channel and pimp out their real estate skills. They could do Flip or Flop Arkansas. Except they keep putting dozens of bunk beds into the homes for big families, which actually ends up scaring off potential buyers. And they would never have to hire a construction crew, they have their kids!
10 Michelle & Jim Bob Have Written Two Books Together
They're parents, spouses, grandparents, reality TV stars, real estate agents and.... authors! That's right, Michelle and Jim Bob have written two books together. In 2008, they released "The Duggars: 20 and Counting!: Raising One of America's Largest Families-How they Do It." This book was an inside look at the Duggars' lives and talked about their parenting strategies, marriage and how they manage to educate their large brood. Reviewers say it's an inspiring book that teaches readers how to get back to basics and put family and faith first. They followed this up with 2012's "A Love That Multiplies: An Up-Close View of How They Make It Work." In this book, they discuss the strategies they use to face hardships, like Josie's premature birth, and how they navigate their older children dating and getting married.
9 They Want 100 Grandchildren
WOW! I don't know if I want 100 of anything, but I certainly wouldn't want 100 grandchildren. But yes, that's the dream for Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. Their first dream was to have 20 children of their own. Sadly, they were one short and only made it to 19. And while they're very happy with their 19, they now have their sights set on something even more impressive: 100 grandchildren. Maybe that's why all of the older Duggar children who are married are busy popping out grandchildren. The most recent newlyweds, Joy and Austin, and Joe and Kendra, both got pregnant on their honeymoons - getting right to work! The Duggars currently have 10 grandchildren with two on the way. So they've got a way to go to reach 100. But with 19 kids, that's only 5-6 kids each. That's not so hard, right?
8 The Couple Endorses Republican Candidates In Arkansas
Does it surprise anyone that Jim Bob and Michelle are Republicans? Of course not. They strongly support overturning abortion legislation and are very vocally anti-choice. But more than just supporting Republican beliefs, the Duggars are actually very involved in politics. From 1999 to 2002, Jim Bob served as a Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives. In 2002, he was defeated for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, and that was the end of Jim Bob's official political career. However, he and Michelle still speak out regularly at political rallies and events. They came under fire for a speech Michelle gave in 2014 for Fayetteville City Council that was deemed transphobic and discriminatory. It is not known who the two of them voted for in the 2016 presidential elections, but all signs point to the current president!
7 She Looks To Jim Bob As Her Spiritual Leader And Coach
It's no surprise that the Duggars believe that their men rule the roost. The father is the leader of the family and his word is law. And it's not just that the father rules the family and children, he also rules his wife. Michelle calls Jim Bob her spiritual leader and coach. Jim Bob agrees that this is the role of the husband and father in the family. He is responsible for everyone's spiritual health and leading the family through a faith-driven life. If you watch the show, you'll note that it's always Jim Bob who suggests that the family start praying. We rarely ever hear Michelle speaking up about prayer. She just follows in Jim Bob's footsteps and lets him lead the way. Michelle and Jim Bob believe their daughters should do the same with their husbands.
6 Jim Bob & Michelle Keep No Secrets From One Another
Here's one part of Jim Bob and Michelle's marriage that other couples might actually want to follow: they don't keep secrets. Michelle says, "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." Even if you're not religious, it's hard to argue with the advice that we should be humble and share our hearts with our partners. Jim Bob agrees. He says, "Learn to listen to the heart of your wife and allow her to communicate her concerns and dreams with you on a daily basis." Unless her concerns are wanting to go to bed without giving herself to her husband, of course...
5 A Divorce Is Never An Option
For the Duggars, divorce is completely off of the table. For Michelle and Jim Bob, it seems like they have had blissful almost-35 years of marriage. They have 19 kids, 10 grandkids, a big house, and live debt-free with their rental properties and TV income. So divorce isn't in the cards for them. But apparently, it's not an option for anyone in their family. After all the drama that surrounded their eldest, Josh, cheating on his wife and having his past abuse revealed, many suspected his wife, Anna, would leave him. But the Duggars knew that wouldn't be happening. In fact, they wouldn't let it happen. Josh and Anna are still together, only separating for a quick time for Josh to go to bible therapy. They currently have five children and aren't looking back. But what if something happens to one of their other kids' marriages? Sounds like they'll just have to suck it up.
4 Michelle Believes The Closer She Gets To God, The Closer She Gets To Her Husband
For the Duggars, their relationship with God is closely tied to their relationship with their spouse. They say not to let anyone get in between you and your partner, but for the Duggars, they prefer to invite God in. Michelle said, "By God’s grace, our marriage is the strongest and sweetest it has ever been! Individually pursue a close relationship with Jesus. The closer we each get to God, the closer we each get to each other." So does that mean that instead of date night, you can just do some devotions? And if you don't talk about your day with your husband, it's okay as long as you pray and tell God about it? Apparently, that's the secret for the Duggars. And it seems to be working for them as they're going strong with 35 years of marriage.
3 Jim Bob Has To Praise Her 10 Times For Every 1 Time He Criticizes Her
Jim Bob has a rule: for every one time he criticizes his wife, he has to praise her ten times. What's to criticize with a wife as sweet and available as Michelle? But if it ever does happen, Jim Bob has to find lots of ways to make it up to her. Does he keep count? Does he have a list? Who knows? Jim Bob explains his perspective saying, "Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath, which means don’t let offenses build up, but apologize and make things right quickly. Never say put-downs or use negative name calling, but instead, praise each other with a grateful spirit." Sounds good in theory, but it's hard to stick to if you've ever argued with your significant other. Even couples who are deeply in love occasionally say mean things in the middle of a fight.
2 Michelle Is Hiding Her Sister!
Did you know that Michelle has a sister? Actually, she has a few siblings. But the shocking news is that one of Michelle's sisters, Evelyn, is an out and proud lesbian. The Duggars have long been accused of being homophobic and outwardly oppose gay marriage, so it's no surprise that Evelyn isn't a part of the show. However, she did actually appear on an early episode back in 2008. But her sexuality wasn't addressed and neither was her long-term partner, Shannon, who she has been with for 30 years now. Since then, Evelyn has been MIA from the show and the Duggars' life in general. In fact, she hasn't been seen with Michelle since a family reunion almost five years ago. It's rumored that she called Michelle and Jim Bob's religion a cult.
1 Michelle Had A Makeover And Finally Changed Her Hairstyle
Michelle is best known for her look. It's the Amish style big brown curly hair. There's a pouf and the bangs are crazy. It's very stuck in the 80's. And while her daughters have all adapted and kept modern hairstyles, Michelle has refused to change her hair. Until one day in 2013. Her children organized a scavenger hunt for her and Michelle spent the day finding clues and meeting up with her kids along the way. The last stop? A hair salon. Think your kids were trying to tell you something, Michelle? Take the hint! She finally got her hair out of the 80's with something more modern. But the new look didn't seem to stick. Michelle is back to her old school curls and big bangs. As long as she likes the way she looks, it's all fine.