It has been a rough year for Anna Duggar as her husband, Josh Duggar, was caught in not one but two sexually charged scandals that have rocked their marriage and effectively ended the run of their family’s hit TV show, 19 Kids and Counting. So it comes as no surprise that the second installment of TLC’s three-part special, Jill & Jessa: Counting On, focused on Josh’s wife and where their relationship stands now.
Though Anna revealed that she’d known long before the police report was released about what she referred to as Josh’s “teenage wrong choices” (i.e., that he molested five young girls), she admitted that it “still wasn’t easy reading through it and having to almost relive what Joshua had done.” She added that even though it was painful, this wasn’t “new information” to her. Basically, she could handle this.
A Shocking Blow
When Josh’s Ashley Madison cheating scandal broke, however, it was a different story entirely. “I was shocked,” Anna recalled. “My first reaction really was denial. I was really hurt that someone would think that about my husband, because I really thought that everything was OK and that we had a strong marriage.”
Describing it as “a bad dream,” she explained that she thought at any moment she would wake up and it would be all right. “It was definitely a hard thing, and I think it is such a betrayal for a spouse to go through what we’re walking through, and it was hard,” she said. “It was hard to realize that it was such a public thing, and so not only was it a betrayal against me, but it was a betrayal against those that call themselves Christians, because here we were as a Christian couple.” Still, she clung to her history with her husband. “Josh was my first love,” she said choking up a bit. “He is my one and only.”
Anna credited her faith with getting her this far. “I knew that my only hope was to cling to my faith, because I know that if I went off of what I was feeling, I would turn a mess into a disaster,” she explained. “I knew we needed help, and I was just praying that God would give us the help and the wisdom that we needed to take the next step.”
The Girls Have Her Back
In a stark contrast to the mixed feelings Josh’s siblings have about him at this point, they gave his wife glowing reviews and showered her with praise. “She displays to each one of us what it means to have unconditional love,” Jinger Duggar said. “She’s walking through this better than any one of us could have ever imagined.”
Jill Duggar broke down in tears remembering her reaction when she first heard the news. “I said, ‘I need to call Anna, because I can’t imagine what she feels right now, and I don’t know what to say except to cry with her,'” the new mom said.
For their part, Jessa Duggar and her husband, Ben Seewald, described themselves as feeling completely “devastated and heartbroken” by Josh’s betrayal. “My heart went out to Anna,” a still very pregnant Jessa sighed.
Where Is Josh?
At the start of the episode, Anna revealed that she “left D.C. seven months pregnant” and hasn’t been back. In fact, she has been living in “the girls’ room” at Josh’s parents’ house. Notably absent from all of the shots of Anna with her children — including newborn daughter Meredith — however, was Josh.
“Josh is away at a Christian recovery program,” Anna said. “It was something that Josh decided. He really felt that he was at a place where he needed a lot of help.” (Umm, you can say that again.) Unfortunately, with her husband in “recovery,” Anna was left to take care of their kids on her own. True, she has help from other family members, but the gaping hole in her life and theirs isn’t lost on the mother of four.
Jessa’s Big Baby Shower
Looking like she was ready to pop, Jessa was still the belle of the ball at her baby shower, which included many lively activities such as a baby food–making competition for the men and a blindfolded diaper-changing competition (on dolls, thankfully) for the women. But for Anna, even this happy time proved bittersweet.
“It’s definitely very exciting to see Jessa and Ben and all of the events surrounding the arrival of their first baby. It has brought a lot of joy and excitement, and it has been a good distraction,” she admitted. “But there is the other side of it: When you see Jessa and Ben interacting, your mind does go back to a lot of happy memories and you think, ‘Oh, that was a special time, and I do miss having Josh here right now.’ So there has definitely been a wide range of emotions.”
Later in the episode, there was another emotional moment when Jill, her husband, Derick Dillard, and their son, Israel, boarded a plane to begin their missionary work in Central America. (To help with the transition, however, Derick’s mother went along too.)
Anna on the Future of Her Marriage
Of course, the question on every viewer’s mind has been whether Anna is going to leave Josh as a result of his lies and infidelity — and, for the first time, Anna addressed this topic head-on. “When your world is shattered, there are a lot of emotions that you have to walk through,” she began. “I think initially it was just crying and crying and crying, and then you get to the place where you can’t cry anymore and then you get up and you start to go on with life, and then you start crying all over again.” She paused, as if choosing her words carefully, before continuing.
“I know there are those that feel I have every right to walk away from this marriage, and I respect other people’s views, but in my heart, when I got married, I vowed to God first and then to Joshua for better or for worse, till death do we part,” she explained. “And God has unfailing love for me and has loved me and forgiven me of so much, and I pray through all this that I would be an extension of God’s love to Joshua and that I would love him and forgive him and that I would wait patiently and allow God to work in our hearts. My prayer and my heart’s desire is for our marriage to be restored.”
So in other words, no, she’s not leaving him.
Tell Us: Do you think Anna should stay with Josh?
Part 3 of Jill & Jessa: Counting On airs Sunday, December 27, on TLC at 9 p.m. ET.