For a family that’s famous for its dedication to reproduction, the Duggars have very strict rules about male-female relations.
The Duggars first caught the attention of TV producers who were drawn to the spectacle of this nice, young-ish couple.
Lots of those out there, sure. But Jim Bob and Michelle had 14 kids, more on the way, and no plans for how to … anything.
Yet they made it work, and while their lifestyle was clearly very different than most of us can relate to, it became a big hit.
Faith, family and frugality were the central tenets of Jim Bob and company, and soon enough, an empire was growing.
But as time went on, more Duggars entered the world, and their show became more popular, more eyebrows were raised.
Viewers and producers alike realized that the Duggars’ belief system was even more unusual than the sheer size of the clan.
Jim Bob and Michelle are downright obsessed with rules, and the Duggar courtship guidelines are the strictest of them all.
But as you’re about to find out, they’re also the toughest to enforce. Especially nowadays as the young ones grow up.
Keep reading for a complete breakdown of how each Duggar duo responded to the stringent edicts governing their sex lives.
[UPDATE: Some recent developments — including a shocking accusation of infidelity — have led to increased scrutiny of the Duggars’ bizarre courtship rules. Read on for more information.]
Of all the strange customs practiced by the Duggar clan, the courtship rules are among the most bizarre. They’re also among the most controversial, even within the family.
The courtship rules have been a part of life in Jim Bob and Michelle’s brood from the very beginning. And the kids are introduced to them at a very young age.
The conditioning starts long before Duggar kids reach dating age. One commonly cited example of this is the practice of shouting, “Nike!” when a “provocatively-dressed” woman is spotted in public. This is done as a sign for the boys to avert their eyes by looking at their shoes.
Yes, believe it or not, Jim Bob and Michelle are that creepy, and that obsessed with the urges of their adolescent children.
Of course, they think this is the best way of curtailing their kids’ desires and preventing them from becoming overly-obsessed with sex.
However, experience has taught them that that’s not the case, as their eldest son, Josh, grew up to be a sexual predator.
When Josh was courting Anna, the Duggars were not under as much scrutiny as they are these days, so we don’t know if the young couple followed the rules (chaperoned dates, physical contact limited to hand-holding, etc.) during the early days of their relationship.
But we do know that Josh’s depravity led him to molest four of his sisters when he was young and hire an escort (whom he allegedly assaulted) while he was married. We guess the system doesn’t work so well!
Next up was Jill Duggar, who married Derick Dillard back in 2014.
As the first of Jim Bob’s daughters to get married, Jill almost certainly followed the courtship rules to a tee. In fact, she had very little choice in the matter.
Derick was vetted by Jim Bob before he was even allowed to meet Jill, and their first dates took place under Jim Bob’s roof.
Of course, these days, Derick and Jill are no longer on speaking terms with her parents, and Dillard is threatening to write a tell-all memoir about the Duggars. Maybe JB should’ve eased up on those rules!
After Jill, it was Jessa’s turn to get married. She and Ben Seewald exchanged vows in 2014.
As with Jill and Derick, Jessa and Ben were closely watched. Ben even lived with the Duggars for a time, and it appears that he abided by Jim Bob’s insane rules — which may be why he’s remained one of the patriarch’s favorite sons-in-law.
Next up was Jinger Duggar, who married Jeremy Vuolo in 2016. Together, the two of them entered uncharted territory.
Jim Bob probably thought he was safe with Jeremy, who was training to be a pastor when he first met Jinger.
After the young couple tied the knot, however, Jeremy proved to be VERY liberal by Duggar standards, allowing his wife to wear shorts in violation of the family dress code, and permitting her to pursue interests outside of being a housewife.
As for the courtship rules, Jeremy is almost as pious as Jim Bob, so you can bet there was no premarital sex. But did they violate some of the other courtship rules? Almost certainly.
Next up was Joseph Duggar who married Kendra Caldwell in 2017. And Jim Bob clearly had nothing to worry about with these two.
Kendra was raised by a pastor who happens to be a very close friend of Jim Bob’s, and insiders say this marriage was pretty much arranged.
There have been reports that Jedidiah Duggar courted Kendra before Joe, but either way, it seems clear that these two were dutiful in their adherence to the courtship rules.
In fact, sources claim Joe and Kendra followed the rules more closely than any Duggar couple. Of course, with a four-month courtship, they really didn’t have much time to stray!
Next came Joy-Anna Duggar, who married Austin Forsyth in 2017.
It seems Jim Bob learned from his favorable experience with the Caldwells, as the Forsyths are another deeply-religious couple with whom he’s very well-acquainted.
Joy and Austin wasted no time once they were hitched — she got pregnant on their honeymoon! — but there’s no indication of any premarital “activity.”
Next came Josiah Duggar, who tied the knot with Lauren Swanson in 2018.
Josiah is the only Duggar who courted someone else before meeting his eventual life partner, and many fans believe the family fast-tracked his relationship with Lauren so that he wouldn’t break the rules.
Some have gone so far as to say the marriage was arranged by the couple’s parents. Whatever the case, they appear to be happily married these days, and it doesn’t look as though they violated the courtship strictures before their wedding day.
However, Jim Bob would not be so lucky with John David Duggar, who married Abbie Burnett in 2018.
Though they didn’t go into specifics, John David and Abbie have been candid about the fact that they “made their own” courtship rules. We guess even Jim Bob realized the absurdity of policing the sex life of a man who was nearly 30 at the time.
That said, you can bet that the younger siblings who will soon follow in John David’s path will NOT be so lucky!
You might think that Jana wouldn’t have to concern herself with the courtship rules because she’s still single. But believe it or not, the 30-year-old might be Jim Bob and Michelle’s most restrained child.
Insiders say Jim Bob became concerned with Jana’s close friendship with Laura DeMasie as the women approached 30 and still seemed more interested in each other than in the prospect of finding husbands.
So when Laura moved to Georgia to pursue a career opportunity, many believed that she was essentially being sent away by Jim Bob, who is notoriously homophobic.
And when Jana took a vacation to an undisclosed location in July of 2020, many believed she was visiting Laura against Jim Bob’s wishes. The women had previously only been allowed to take chaperoned trips together. If the rumors are true, we couldn’t be happier for them.
Sadly, not all of the recent developments in the Duggars’ love lives have been happy ones. Fans are convinced that Jeremy Vuolo has been cheating on Jinger.