While the Duggar family seems to be enjoying plenty of fame these days, there's a lot about them that critics don't like. From their conservative values to the fact that their family is one of the biggest most people have ever seen, plenty of controversy swirls around them.
But when it comes to relationships and marriage, fans can't exactly argue against the Duggars' habits. After all, Michelle and Jim Bob have been married for, like, forever, and all of their children have grown up to be fully functional and even seemingly normal adults.
Who'd have thought that the little Duggar kiddos from the family's TLC show would have grown up so quickly and started growing their own families before most of them even turned 25? Of course, marrying relatively young is one of the Duggar fam tenets, and that has earned them some questions from followers, too.
The thing is, the Duggars take relationships and dating seriously, as marriage is the end goal for all the Duggar youth. Whatever their personal goals are in life, it seems like getting married tops everything else. So it makes sense that their courtship rules would be stringent.
After all, no Duggar wants to make a mistake when it comes to picking their spouse! Thus, the 20 relationship rules all Duggars must follow before entering wedded bliss.
20 No 'Dating' In The Conventional Sense
Duggars don't date. Then how, I know you're asking, do they end up married? Well, the Duggars follow a ritual they call "courting," which is sort of like dating, except much more serious. According to the Duggars, they don't date in the traditional sense of the word.
Rather, all the Duggar kids date intentionally, with their ultimate goal being to find a lifelong partner who is up for all the hoops the family has to jump through to adhere to their religious and general lifestyle guidelines. In short, the Duggar kids are looking for a husband or wife, and they make that clear from the beginning with potential beaus.
19 Courtship Requires Chaperones
Sure, the couples have cute photos of them dining out and going on adventures together. But what fans don't see is the chaperones that are somewhere nearby! Of course, many of the Duggar ladies who are now wed are going out with their husbands without anyone else tagging along.
But in the early days of getting to know one another, all of the Duggars have to have chaperones for any and all dates they go on. The Duggars have explained that this is so the courting couple isn't tempted to break their own rules about what's allowed during the courtship, plus the chaperone reports back to mom and dad (or it is mom or dad!).
18 Siblings Tag Along On Dates
We know the siblings are close by default, but you probably never thought the courting Duggars would take their sibs on dates with them. But that's exactly how chaperoning works when mom or dad isn't available to tag along: the older Duggar siblings actually pay their brothers or sisters to be chaperones.
It's a pretty good deal, we have to admit, especially for the kids who act as chaperones. After all, they get to tag along on a date and, likely, have some fun experiences. Of course, the whole family does need to get to know the family (keep reading for more on that), so having sibling chaperones helps in more ways than one.
17 Guys And Gals Must Be Down With God
Clearly, the Duggars believe in God and they're a very devoutly religious family. So it follows that all potential spouses of any of the grown-up Duggars need to be religious themselves. But while the Duggars maintain a rule that their kids' guys and gals must be down with God, that doesn't mean they all follow the same religion.
For example, Jinger's husband Jeremy Vuolo is a pastor, but he's not technically following the same religion as the Duggars. While the Duggar fam states they're independent Baptists, Jeremy notes on his and Jinger's blog that he is a Christian, but nothing else specific. Close enough, right?
16 Dates Must Ask Dad First
We know by now that some of the Duggar ladies have actually met their husbands through family. Austin Forsyth knew the Duggars for years, and Jinger actually met her hubby Jeremy Vuolo through Jessa and Ben. Jill met her hubby Derick through her dad, Jim Bob, who actually encouraged the two to get to know one another after he met Derick on a mission trip.
Clearly, all the guys had to get Jim Bob's permission before courting any of the Duggar ladies, but the same goes for the Duggar guys who want to court a woman. Jim Bob has final say over whether the duo can court, and he's involved in the relationship all along, too...
15 Parents Are Privy To All Convos
On the Duggars' show 19 Kids and Counting, it was clear that there wasn't much privacy. After all, all of the girls shared a dormitory-style bedroom, and the boys had their own one-room quarters, too. But once the older kids began courting, you'd assume things would change.
But per footage from interviews with Jim Bob and Michelle (and their kids), even the adult Duggar kids don't get to grow their relationships privately. Instead, Jim Bob and Michelle have access to the kids' text message conversations, and Jill even had her first few voice conversations with Derick in the presence of her dad.
14 Side Hugs Are All That's Okay
Back when Josh Duggar, the oldest of the kids, began courting his now-wife Anna, TLC caught every part of their courtship and wedding. These days, we don't see him much (following the drama about his past), but back in Josh's bachelor days, he and Anna went on some pretty low-key dates and the most physical contact they had was side-by-side.
They sat next to each other on a date, gave each other side hugs, and saved their first kiss for their wedding day. Of course, they started a trend that most of their siblings would go on to follow, as the Duggars shy away from full-on frontal hugs pre-marriage to this day.
13 Mom And Dad Must Approve Any Beau
While we've made it clear that Jim Bob must give his permission to any gentleman to court one of his daughters, the prospective husbands apparently can't even talk to a Duggar girl without her dad's okay. Michelle is in on the talks, too, which is why fans were so surprised when Jinger and Jeremy became a thing (given his soccer playing and partying past, fans were worried he wouldn't make the cut).
You can rest assured that every guy or gal who begins courting a Duggar kid has been thoroughly vetted by mom and dad before the first date. You can also rest assured that none of the prospective dates are looking for anything less than marriage.
12 Courtship Is Moving Toward Marriage
Josiah Duggar is one of the latest of the clan to be wed; he and Lauren Swanson got married over the summer of 2018. But before he married Lauren, Josiah also courted a different girl, something that's uncommon in the Duggar world. He and Marjorie Jackson dated for four months in 2015, Celebrity Insider noted, in the only Duggar relationship thus far to not end in marriage.
For the rest of the Duggars (including Josiah's next relationship), courtship is strictly for moving toward marriage. Whatever feelings Josiah and Marjorie had for one another, it wasn't a husband and wife sort of relationship.
11 Building A Relationship Starts With The Bible
Although most relationships start out with mutual attraction, it would seem the Duggar relationships begin with something else: a love of God. And if the Duggars' marriage track records are anything to go by, they seem to have had good luck with the approach. Generally, the Duggars' relationships have all started either in church or in some faith-related way, like Derick Dillard going on a mission trip with Jim Bob and them becoming "prayer partners."
The Duggar ladies have also talked about their courtships with their now-husbands, explaining that they would text one another Bible verses and bonded over their shared faith. That's one way to strike up a relationship!
10 The Whole Family Gets A Say
As mentioned, part of the Duggars' courtship process involves practically the entire family. With siblings serving as chaperones and Jim Bob playing matchmaker, there's really no way to keep a relationship private in the Duggar household. But apparently, the Duggar fam doesn't mind that.
All the girls who are now married have talked about how much their families got to know their spouses, and from the way the couples interact today, we can tell they've bonded quite a bit. From Jessa and Ben's meeting at church (their families attended together) to Jinger meeting Jeremy via Jessa and Ben later on, the next generation of Duggars is pretty close-knit.
9 Strictly No Social Media
Until he puts a ring on it, she can't post on social media. Well, that used to be the rule, at least. These days, the still-solo Jana has her own IG account, through which she showcases her knack for gardening and home improvement projects. But the other now-married Duggars didn't get their social media licenses until they had their wedding bands on.
It's a little strange to most of us since social media is for everyone 13 and up (and even those younger than that... Farrah Abraham we're looking at you!). But for the Duggars, it's just another one of their relationship rules.
8 No Kisses 'Til The Altar
Back when Josh Duggar and Anna began courting, they talked a lot about how they were saving their first kiss for their wedding day. And at the time, a lot of audiences were rather miffed. But the trend continued with the next Duggar to be wed, and it seems like it's something that will continue on down the line.
The Duggars see their first kiss as a big relationship milestone and something that might otherwise "tempt" them if they start smooching before they're actually married. Jim Bob tends to advocate against the couples kissing pre-marriage, too, but who knows whether it's a hard and fast rule or just a preference.
7 Each Couple's Own Relationship Rules
Although John-David is one of the older Duggars (he's Jana's twin and the two are the second and third Duggar kids after eldest brother Josh), he was also the most recently married, in November of 2018. Because he and Abbie were beyond their mid-20's at the time of their courtship (John-David was 29 and Abbie was 26), they made their own rules, Cheat Sheet noted.
The publication quoted John-David as saying he and Abbie decided on rules they felt were "appropriate for where we are in this stage of life." The pair shared hugs and John-David put his arm around Abbie pre-marriage, the article stated, as those were the rules the pair decided on together.
6 Timelines May Vary
Some of the Duggars' courtships have been supremely short, while others last a bit longer. And although the Duggars are very conservative in their courtship processes, the timelines seem to be something that's negotiable. Unless the family is lying to the public, some of the kids' courtships have lasted mere months!
Although the Duggars have clear ideas about what a healthy relationship is and what is required before they can commit to marriage, they don't seem to have any specific timeline for couples to follow before they say 'I Do'. Anywhere from two months to a year is well within the acceptable range for courtship.
5 Girls Gotta Hold Down The House
One of the things the Duggars are very specific about is husbands' and wives' roles in the household. Although Michelle had plenty of help with her brood (older kids were buddies with younger kids), it was clearly her responsibility to handle the child-rearing while Jim Bob wasn't often home during the day.
Similarly, all the Duggar ladies learned household tasks like cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and everything else. From the way they were raised, it's evident that the Duggar ladies know their way around the domestic part of their partnerships. To this day, we see all the girls on IG cooking, cleaning, and caring for their babies.
4 Learning Life Skills Is Part Of Growing Up
We know that the Duggars have a "traditional" view on relationships, meaning they expect the ladies to hold down the household and the men to make the money. But all the Duggar children learn life skills and take care of household business such as doing the laundry and keeping everything tidy.
Clearly, teaching her kids how to handle domestic tasks is part of Michelle's prepping her kids for their futures, meaning, their marriages, as that's the ultimate Duggar clan goal. Even the boys learned how to do laundry (all the kids had chores growing up!), and the girls learned things like how to wield power tools and put in a hard day's work.
3 Skirts Only (And Long Ones, Too)
Even the Duggar guys' ladies tend to follow the family's strict modesty rules, and that includes covering up most of their skin. From knee-grazing skirts to collarbone-covering shirts, before they're married, these ladies are supposed to keep everything under wraps. Maybe that's part of the reason why the tank-top-wearing Marjorie Jackson didn't work out as a suitable beau for Josiah!
No, the rest of the Duggar wives keep themselves covered up, from full-coverage bathing suits to long sleeves. Of course, Jinger is known to have her own sense of style (shoulder-baring tops and pants!), but pre-marriage, she donned denim skirts like her sisters.
2 Co-Habiting Is An Absolute No
With the Duggars' traditional views on dating and marriage, it almost goes without saying that the couples can't cohabitate before getting married. They can spend a lot of time together, sure, as long as it's chaperoned, but most of the kids are lucky to even have a private FaceTime conversation, let alone sleep in the room next to their sweethearts while courting.
Some critics speculate that's why the Duggars are all so keen on marriage, but it seems to have worked out well for most of them, so we'll withhold judgment! Then again, rumors swirled around Jessa's hubby Ben staying with the family for a time pre-marriage...
1 Covering Up Is Key... Even After Marriage...
Have you noticed a trend with the Duggar family's attire, including that of their weddings? The entire Duggar clan (the guys' wives included) sticks with covering up everything, even on their wedding days. It's a rule they keep while courting and even after marriage, although we've seen some of the younger Duggar generations ease up on the family rules after a while. Remember Jinger's shoulder-showing top and *gasp* her pants?!
But for all the other ladies, it seems their husbands are keeping the same modesty rules regarding their dress as dad Jim Bob did. The result is an entire generation of Duggar ladies who insist on covering up their shoulders no matter what event they're attending.
Sources: Celebrity Insider, Wikipedia, Cheat Sheet