The Truth About The Duggar Sons' Marriages

The following contains references to sexual assault and child abuse. 

The Duggar family never ceases to amaze, and not always for great reasons. In fact, the majority of headlines lately about the family have covered the heinous crimes involving eldest son, Josh Duggar. He was arrested in April 2021 after child sexual abuse material was found on his work computer, according to the New York Post. He was convicted and charged.

The harrowing case has overshadowed, understandably, the many other Duggar children and what they've been up to. Any fan of the shows "19 Kids and Counting" or "Counting On" will know the importance of courtship and marriage for the Duggar clan. While we know many of the kids, now adults, are married, there are still a few on the brink of marriage. It's to be expected. There are rumors that James Duggar might be courting Lauren Caldwell (The Hollywood Gossip notes), and judging from the Duggars' speed in heading towards matrimony, there may very well be wedding bells soon. There are also rumors brewing about Jackson Duggar potentially dating a fellow conservative from the Spivey clan. It could happen, since Justin Duggar married Claire Spivey.

Jeremiah Duggar followed suit with an engagement announcement in January 2022, to Hannah Wissmann. He posted the happy news on Instagram and said, "You are the best thing that has ever happened to me and I cannot wait to marry you. I love you!!" Of course, this isn't the end of the Duggar sons' marriages. In fact, it's just the beginning!

How Josh Duggar met Anna Keller

Josh Duggar met Anna Keller in 2006 at a conference for homeschooling families and since Anna, like Josh, came from a large, conservative family, it was a plausible connection, according to People. They began their courtship in true Duggar fashion, where the connection was geared toward sussing out the potential for a successful marriage.

Anna already knew who Josh was thanks to the family's then-show "14 Children & Pregnant Again!" She wrote about noticing him on TV: "As my family watched the video, I noticed how Joshua, then age sixteen, shared the importance of guarding his heart and waiting for someone who would really love him and wasn't going to just get carried away with their emotions," she expressed, (via ET). "I was so excited to see another family who was brought up so similar to the way our parents were training us, but never would I have dreamed what God had in store!"

They tied the knot on Sept. 26, 2008 in Florida, where they hadn't so much as kissed each other until their wedding day. Josh and Anna went on to welcome seven children, unsurprising since both of them expressed their wishes for a big family. "I would welcome a big family," Josh told People. "My parents have been wonderful examples." Anna echoed this: "I would love to have as many children as God would bless us with. Growing up in a large family, and Joshua in a mega-family, you learn so much more."

How Josh's behavior impacted his marriage to Anna

From the get-go, problems arose in Josh and Anna Duggar's marriage because of Josh's behavior, both in things coming up from his past and in real time. News broke in 2015 that when he was a teenager, Josh had molested multiple individuals, including some of his sisters, according to People. Also in 2015, Gawker released the news that while married to Anna, Josh was paying for an Ashley Madison account, a website that facilitates extramarital affairs. As Gawker reported, Josh "paid a total of $986.76 for two different monthly Ashley Madison subscriptions from February of 2013 until May of 2015."

After news broke that Josh had molested young girls and had the Ashley Madison accounts, he and Anna decided to try marriage counseling. They came back into the spotlight in 2016 and published a blog in 2017 where they addressed their marriage. ​​"For nearly the last two years, we have quietly worked to save our marriage, focus on our children, and rebuild our lives together as a family," they wrote (via People). "Doing so is never easy after a breach of trust."

In 2021, they announced that they were expecting baby number seven and a week later, Josh was arrested on child sexual abuse charges. In the midst of this, their daughter, Madyson Lily Duggar, was born in October 2021, and Anna stayed loyal to Josh.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Anna's reaction to Josh's behavior

Anna Duggar has unequivocally stood by her husband. When news broke of his affairs on Ashley Madison, the couple posted on Facebook and Anna wrote, "And when you, our sweet fans, first met me when Josh asked me to marry him... I was able to say, 'Yes' knowing who Josh really is — someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended" (via Gawker).

When news broke of Josh's trial due to possession of child sexual abuse material, Anna chose to stick with him. Based on their source, the New York Post reported that Anna was relying "on her strong Christian faith" to get through the experience. Because of the nature of Josh's convictions, he wasn't permitted to be near his children when he was on bail, so Anna left their seven children with relatives in order to stay with him, The Sun noted.

On February 3, 2022, Anna finally spoke up publicly about Josh's trial on Twitter, saying: "There is more to the story." She added a link to the filing for his appeal. People spoke plainly to her about the situation. "Girl is this a joke. After all the mf evidence that was presented in FEDERAL COURT...I feel bad for your kids," someone wrote. "It's disgusting that you sat in the court room and saw the evidence and you're still defending him," another said. "Your poor, poor children."

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Jedidiah Duggar's private courtship rituals

Considering he grew up in a family that was featured on reality TV, Jedidiah Duggar took a totally different approach in his courtship with Katey Nakatsu. With such a public life, Jed chose to court her in complete privacy, and no one knew about the seriousness of their relationship until he jumped on Instagram to post the news that they got married. On April 3, 2021, he wrote, "For a long time I have prayed for my future spouse, not knowing who that person would be. God answered my prayers far beyond what I could have ever imagined in Katey!"

Jed admitted to keeping things private by saying, "We have enjoyed quietly developing our relationship over the past year and every moment together has been amazing!" After another marital bliss post, Jed stayed off the 'gram for several months. It's entirely plausible that he wanted to keep out of the spotlight as Josh was making headlines for such horrific reasons. 

But Jed is a much more popular Duggar than his older brother, and the feedback from fans reflected this. "congrats!!!! I didn't even know you were engaged!! i'm very happy happy for you two!!" someone wrote. Another said, "My favorite Duggar got married! Congrats!!" One teased, "Congratulations! I thought Jed was a confirmed bachelor." The happy couple announced that they were pregnant in September 2021. Privacy seems to pay off in this case!

Justin Duggar was very young to get married

Justin Duggar found love with Claire Spivey and they announced their courtship when he was just 17. The couple offered Us Weekly an exclusive video to share their news. "Claire and I are excited to share that we are in a courtship," he said. "... God brought Claire in my life, and I wasn't really expecting it, but he brought her along right when I needed her."

The Duggars and the Spiveys, thanks to their conservative roots and big families, go way back. Claire noted this: "Justin and I's families have known each other for over 20 years, so before either he or I was born, and then we got connected last year. ... I'm really looking forward to the memories to come spent with him. ... I'm excited to see what the Lord holds for us in the near future." Their courtship was a success, so Justin and Claire got married on February 26, 2021.

Justin and Claire decided to move to Texas to be closer to her family, and the couple got busy with a house-flipping venture. As The Sun noted, they bought a house in Fort Worth, Texas, for an evaluated amount of $134,700. In late January 2022, they listed the newly renovated home for $199,900. Justin has a successful history in this market. In 2020, dad Jim Bob Duggar bought Justin a $35,500 home in Arkansas, and he flipped the house and sold it for $195,000. Looks like a good business.

John David Duggar's speedy courtship

John David Duggar followed the family style and quickly courted his now-wife Abbie Grace Duggar. In June 2018, John David and Abbie Grace confirmed with Us Weekly that they were officially courting. "Abbie and I are just so excited, we've known of each other for several years," John David said. "We fell in love very quickly and it's been a wonderful journey thus far."

One month after this reveal, they announced that they were engaged. "Engagement is very different than a courtship because engagement actually says, 'Okay, I'm committed to this person to marriage for life,'" John David said in a TLC video (via People). "A courtship is more of a 'I'm getting to know this person with the idea of the possibility of marriage.' But now it's actually that commitment towards marriage."

In a separate TLC video, John David and Abbie Grace explained that they had different standards for their courtship than some of the other Duggar kids. As a couple, they explained that they decided that hugging was acceptable, and John David could put his arm around Abbie Grace. Part of the reasoning for this more lax approach was that they were older than most of the Duggar kids traditionally are when they begin courting, so they felt like that gave them "maturity." As fans will know, some Duggars choose to avoid any physical contact while courting. John David and Abbie Grace got married on November 3, 2018, per Us Weekly, and said, "We are so excited to be married!" Congrats to them!

Josiah and Lauren Duggar have kept quiet

Josiah Duggar comes eighth in the line of Duggar children. He initially courted Marjorie Jackson, but at 19, after four months together, they decided to split. "Marjorie and I had a good time together," Josiah said to People. "We were just trying to follow God's lead on everything. She didn't feel that it was the right timing then, so we called it quits for a bit." Interestingly, Marjorie wrote a book following her split from Josiah called "Devoted: A Girl's 31-Day Guide to Good Living With a Great God," and many felt like the real reason for her split came out in the book. 

Supposedly, Marjorie wasn't impressed with the negative media attention coming out about Josh Duggar. She spoke about the dark sides of the internet and how "promiscuousness once would have been the hush-hush elephant in the room" but now "purity sticks out loudly more than ever in a world where anything and everything goes," she wrote (via OK!).

Nevertheless, Josiah found love again with his now-wife Lauren. They married in June 2018, per Us Weekly, and had their first daughter, Bella, in November 2019. Prior to Bella, Lauren suffered a miscarriage, per the Daily Mail, and on an episode of "Counting On," she called it the "worst day of [her] life." Fans have noticed that Lauren and Josiah have been largely absent from Instagram, and some wonder if she might be pregnant again, hoping to stay out of the public eye during that time.

Joseph and Kendra Duggar spark rumors

Joseph and Kendra Duggar married in September 2017 and started off as a great match, since Kendra's father, Paul Caldwell, is a pastor at a Baptist church in Arkansas, according to Us Weekly. After welcoming their second child, rumors started circulating in 2019 that their marriage was pushed on them by their fathers and, as The Hollywood Gossip noted, many fans wondered if the marriage had been arranged and might be loveless. Rumors have purported that Jim Bob Duggar likes the idea of an alliance between his family and the Caldwells, since their ideologies are so aligned as conservative families.

In another writeup by The Hollywood Gossip, a former employee of the Duggar family informed the publication that Kendra had initially been romantically involved with Jedidiah Duggar. The source said that Joseph decided to pursue Kendra and "bumped" his brother out of the picture. The insider expressed a larger issue that fans have always wondered about the family. "There's a whole world that goes on that really isn't so," they said, stressing that when the cameras are off, life isn't what it seems when it comes to the Duggars.

Kendra has never addressed these rumors, but the couple is infrequent with their social media presence, and of course, this might stir up speculation. But to be fair, maybe they're just not as interested in sharing the ins and outs of their private lives.