Strange things about the Duggar daughters' marriages

Anyone who has watched the TLC reality shows 19 Kids and Counting or Counting On knows that the Duggar family does things a little differently.

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar of Springdale, Ark. rose to fame because of their large and ever-expanding family, which eventually included 19 biological children. It wasn't just luck that they had so very many offspring — their conservative Christian beliefs govern childbearing, and just about every other aspect of family life.

Among some of the family's more unusual habits? Kissing before marriage, booze, and women wearing pants are all strictly forbidden, while must-dos include having as many children as possible and "courting" instead of dating.

Four of Michelle and Jim Bob's adult daughters, Jill Dillard, Jessa Seewald, Jinger Vuolo, and Joy-Anna Forsyth have already tied the knot and are carrying on some of their parents' traditions, which makes their marriages ever-so-slightly unique.

Let's check out some of the most extreme ways Duggar marriages veer off the beaten path.

They marry young

As the years go by, American women are, on average, getting married later in life. According to a 2013 report by The Atlantic, the average age of a first marriage was 27 for women and 29 for men. The Duggar daughters have wed at a younger age, and in some cases, much younger.

Jill Dillard, the first Duggar daughter to tie the knot, wed Derick Dillard at age 23. Sister Jessa Seewald married at age 21, and Jinger Vuolo tied the knot at 22. As for Joy-Anna, she said "I do" at only 19. Why so young? It could be due to the fact that, according to their religious beliefs, they "court" rather than date.

Jim Bob explained the idea to People magazine, saying, "Courting is getting to know each other in a group setting, both families spending time together and the couple setting goals together to determine if they are meant to marry." He added, "With dating, a couple will often pair off alone and that sometimes leads to a more physical relationship."

Since every relationship the Duggar kids enter has the end-goal of marriage, it makes sense that they would marry quickly once they found "the one," rather than waiting until they were older.

They do not kiss before marriage

While many Americans lose their virginity long before marriage, it's not completely uncommon, especially in religious circles, for people to abstain from sex until they're married. The Duggar family takes it a couple steps further. 

Their family members choose to save other forms of intimacy, including kissing, for marriage. According to the family rules, Jill, Jessa, Jinger and Joy-Anna all had their first kiss on their wedding day. They can only "side hug" their dates before their wedding day, though they are allowed to hold hands once they're engaged.

Jessa's husband, Ben Seewald, explained the rules on Counting On: "From the outset of our relationship we had some physical boundaries that we tried to set. ... Saving the physical intimacy for after the wedding day."

Moreover, in order to stay true to their chastity vows, all dates, phone calls, and texts must be overseen by a chaperone, so the first time they are even alone with their spouses is after they say "I Do."

Jinger's husband, Jeremy Vuolo, who is a pastor, told Counting On, "I really appreciate the idea of chaperones, just really in the sense of being above reproach and having accountability."

They don't wear pants before marriage

While most American women wear pretty much whatever they please (hello, Lady Gaga), in the Duggar family, the females who live under Jim Bob and Michelle's roof only wear dresses or skirts at all times.

Mama Michelle Duggar explained in a TLC blog post that after she became a born-again Christian, she decided to change her look in order to fit her religious beliefs. She said she and Jim Bob sat down together to discuss the best way for the women of the family to dress. 

"We really wanted to see what the scriptures said about [modesty]. Our interpretation was that from the neck down to the knee should be covered." Michelle also said she felt a calling to stop wearing pants and told her husband, "I really should be defining who I am as a woman by choosing to wear dresses and skirts." From then on, no pants were worn by the females in the house.

But things started to change for their older daughters after marriage. Social media went crazy when Jinger was photographed wearing shorts in 2017. After that, both she and her sister, Jill, were spotted in pants regularly, and even Joy-Anna got in on the act, donning ski pants on her honeymoon.

That's not to say that Michelle and Jim Bob have changed their minds about the no-pants rule — none of their daughters who still live at home, including 28-year-old Jana, have been spotted wearing pants...yet.

They want to have lots of children

As of 2015, the average family had 2.4 children, according to the Pew Research Center, but all of the married Duggar daughters have either expressly said they want to have a large family or that they'll be happy with as many children as God provides.

Before her 2014 wedding, Jill told ABC News, "Both of us want as many kids as God will give us and we've talked about adoption. My parents have kept popping them out so we'll see how [our] fertility is!"

Joy-Anna, before getting pregnant with a honeymoon baby at age 19, told People magazine, "We want as many as the Lord thinks we can handle. And we are putting it into his hands."

The girls didn't wait long after marriage to get started. Jill and Jessa each had two sons within their first four years of marriage, and Joy-Anna welcomed her first child about 9 months after tying the knot. Jinger is expecting her first child in 2018 after a little more than a year of marriage.

Jim Bob and Michelle already have 10 grandchildren — with their 11th and 12th on the way!

Jinger's husband has a questionable past

The vast majority of the Duggar clan adheres to a squeaky clean lifestyle. The family doesn't curse, alcohol is strictly forbidden, and even dancing is a no-no, according to Jim Bob and Michelle. So when Jinger started dating Jeremy Vuolo, we can only begin to wonder about what they thought of his past.

When they met, Jeremy was a pastor at a small church in Laredo, Texas, but years earlier, he played professional soccer and seems to have indulged in some colorful behavior while attending college. RadarOnline reported that Jeremy was arrested in Oneonta, N.Y. in 2008 after he allegedly shouted obscenities and grabbed a police officer while intoxicated. According to a police report, "For no apparent reason, Vuolo walked up to [the officer] and grabbed his right arm/bicep in a forceful manner. Subsequently, Vuolo was arrested and transported back to HQ, where he was booked and later released to a sober friend."

Jeremy was required to pay $250 in fines with a $95 surcharge. According to Radar, he later addressed his trouble with the law: "I was part of the college party scene and was living foolishly. I'm not perfect, but I sought out accountability and I now see great victory in my life."

Joy-Anna's husband hails from a controversial family

Joy-Anna's husband, Austin Forsyth, hails from a family that's attracted controversy over the company it keeps. Some of the Forsyths reportedly run a Christian retreat center called Fort Rock Family Camp in Combs, Ark. The camp has been criticized for hosting events featuring parenting experts Debi and Mike Pearl. The Pearls' controversial book, To Train Up a Child, has attracted a lot of heat because it advocates corporal punishment.

According to The New York Times, the Pearls suggest spanking with plastic tubing, hosing kids down if they have potty training accidents, and forcing children to "fast" as punishment. Mike Pearl called plastic tubing, "a good spanking instrument" because he thinks it's "too light to cause damage to the muscle or the bone."

The New York Times reported that the Pearls' book was found in the homes of three children who died of child abuse. Both Debi and Mike said they don't believe their book had anything to do with those deaths. "If you find a 12-step book in an alcoholic's house, you wouldn't blame the book," Mike said.

Despite the book's controversy, the Forsyths have promoted To Train Up a Child in advertising for the event at their camp, so it appears they support the couple's philosophy.

Wives constantly stare at their husbands while they're talking

The Duggar daughters have an unusual habit that they may have picked up from their mother, Michelle. In interviews with their husbands for Counting On, the daughters tend to focus all of their attention on their spouses, typically with a starry eyed smile on their face, instead of looking at the camera.

No one in the family has publicly commented on this, so it's hard to say exactly why they do it, but since men are the head of the family, according to their belief system, it could be that they do it as a sign of deference.

Another possibility is that they do it to boost their guys' egos. Michelle wrote in a 2014 blog post, "Don't ever put your husband down in front of your children or other people, especially your families." Perhaps smiling lovingly at your husband is simply a way to make him feel good and keep the peace. 

They don't drink alcohol

According to a 2015 survey by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 86 percent of Americans over the age of 18 have consumed alcohol at least once in their lifetime, so the Duggar daughters and their husbands definitely break with the norm by refusing any alcoholic beverages. 

All of the daughters threw dry weddings, and both Jinger and Jill have revealed on social media that they drink sparkling juice for special occasions. 

Mom Michelle is so opposed to alcohol that, in 2009, she and other family members protested an Arkansas convenience store that had applied for a permit to sell beer. The store's assistant manager told a local news station at the time, "I was told the Duggars were there protesting it, and that Mrs. Duggar was up there crying. And she said that she didn't want alcohol in her neighborhood or her town, so we got turned down for it."

Looks like the apple doesn't fall far from the tree in this case!

None of the wives work outside the home

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 47 percent of workers in the United States are women, but none of the Duggar daughters currently work outside the home.

Jill delivered babies with a midwife practice before marrying, and even studied to become a certified professional midwife. She continued to work right up until she became a mother herself, but since giving birth to her first son, Israel, it appears that she not worked outside the home. In fact, Derick Dillard described himself on the family blog as "the provider and protector of [his] little family."

Joy-Anna, Jinger, and Jessa also do not appear to have ever held a job outside the home, though that could change for Joy-Anna. Her husband remodels houses, and Joy-Anna has been known to help him on the job site. Perhaps they will turn it into a joint business in the future or maybe yet another reality TV spin-off? The two recently completed a remodel of their own fixer-upper, so they've already got a head start on the DIY scene.

Jinger's husband believes women were created to help men

Even before the suffragettes fought for and won American women's right to vote in 1920, women have been rallying for equal footing with men in all areas of life. Some aspects of that fight seem to have passed the Duggar family by because Jinger's husband, Jeremy Vuolo, holds some less modern views about the roles of men and women in society.

The pastor wrote an essay titled "Marriage: What is it and Why Does it Exist," with his father, Chuck Vuolo. In the essay, father and son assert that women are created as helpers for men. They write, "The first thing that God saw which was not good in His creation was that the man was alone and, therefore, He made him a helper suitable to him!"

If all of the Duggar family members believe that women were created to be helpers for men, could that help to explain why none of the Duggar daughters work outside the home?

Jill's husband holds some controversial views

Despite Jeremy's arrest, and Austin's family ties, Jill's husband, Derick Dillard, still takes the title of the most controversial Duggar son-in-law.

The goofy, somewhat geeky Arkansas native was once widely loved by Counting On fans. He wooed Jill in a long-distance courtship all the way from Nepal, where he was doing missionary work. All of that unconditional fan love seemed to cool off, however, when Derick posted a number of hot-button comments to his Twitter page.

First, Derick took aim at Jazz Jennings, a 17-year-old transgender girl whose life was profiled on TLC's I Am Jazz. He accused Jazz's parents and TLC of taking advantage of her and refused to call her by her preferred pronoun. "Transgender' is a myth," Derick said. "Gender is not fluid; it's ordained by God."

After his statements, TLC announced it would no longer work with Derick, and Derick, in turn, announced that no one in his family would be appearing on TLC, including Jill. 

The family losing out on its reality TV show didn't quiet Derick. After a fatal school shooting in Parkland, Fla. left 17 dead, he was widely criticized for arguing that the media was using outspoken teen shooting survivors to "push liberal agendas."