Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar share 19 children: sons Joshua, John-David, Joseph, Josiah, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, Jason, Justin and Jackson, and daughters Jana, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joy-Anna, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn-Grace and Josie. The family’s first reality series, 19 Kids and Counting, quickly became one of the most popular shows on TLC from 2008 to 2015. They later returned for a spin off, Counting On, which has aired for 11 seasons so far.
Over the years, fans have watched many of the Duggar children explore their own relationships in hopes of scoring a love as strong as their parents’. Due to their conservative Christian background, the family enforces a number of strict rules when it comes to courting, or “dating with a purpose.”
“Courtship is really waiting for the one God has for you and praying through the whole process,” Jim Bob explained during a 2014 Today interview. Michelle agreed, adding, “It’s really examining the person and considering, ‘Would this be the guy I want to be the father of my kids?'”
Kissing, hand-holding and other physical markers of affection aren’t allowed until a couple’s wedding day. Early in the courtship process, partners must have a chaperone present on their dates. For many of the Duggar daughters, their brothers have been by their sides when getting to know their suitors.
“Having that accountability really keeps things from going in the wrong direction,” the father of 19 told Today.
The patriarch has also warned his children to be mindful of their text messages while courting, as he and Michelle are both looped into all of their chats. Having Jim Bob and Michelle as an example of a happy marriage has given the Duggar’s high standards when it comes to their love lives — and their parents don’t mind.
“There is no failed courtship,” Michelle explained in 2014. “A parent that loves and cares for their children, they want the best relationship for their child. It’s fun to be involved in the whole process in choosing it.”
Scroll down to learn more about the Duggar family’s courtship beginnings!