‘Counting On’: Do the Duggar Children Have Happy Marriages?

About half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce—but that rule only applies if your last name is something other than Duggar. While a few members of the Duggar clan have divorced, in general they’re much more likely to stay married no matter what. Since divorce is discouraged in their strict sect of Christianity, the Duggars avoid it at all costs.

That leads critics to the next question: If Duggars aren’t allowed to divorce, are they really happy with their marriages? Or are they just pretending? The answer to this question is more complicated than it appears.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar set the example for a strong marriage

The original Duggar couple, Jim Bob and Michelle, seem very content in their marriage and even offer formal counseling for engaged couples. They recently celebrated 34 years of marriage and credit their lasting union to a couple of factors.

For one thing, the couple still acts like newlyweds around each other, remembering to put their relationship first even though their lives are extraordinarily busy. You can often spot Jim Bob and Michelle holding hands like they’re dating and showing appreciation for each other.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar | Kris Connor/WireImage

The other thing Michelle famously said about their marriage is that she’s always physically available for her husband’s sexual needs, even when she’s tired or has a headache. “In your marriage, there will be times you’re going to be very exhausted. Your hubby comes home after a hard day’s work, you get the baby to bed, and he is going to be looking forward to that time with you,” Michelle said.

Be available. Anyone can fix him lunch, but only one person can meet that physical need of love that he has, and you always need to be available when he calls.”

This constant availability for intimacy appears to be working for them.

Duggar couples share a foundation of faith

There are plenty of examples of interfaith couples making it work—but there’s no denying that it’s much easier to stay married to someone who shares the same goals and values. Since Duggar spouses are all approved by Jim Bob, there’s little chance that they’d ever marry someone who didn’t have the same religion. That’s part of the reason their marriages last a long time.

It’s also one reason that Duggar couples might stay married even if they were having issues. Since they’re all the same religion, no one in the Duggar’s extended family is willing to divorce unless absolutely necessary.

Duggars are less likely to divorce since no one in their family does it

They say divorce is contagious. That’s why you’ll often see best friends divorcing within a few years of each other—studies show that close friends who are divorced raises your divorce rate by 75%.

That same statistic may help prove the opposite, too. Married Duggar couples have been through a lot, including sexual abuse allegations, infidelity, miscarriages, boredom, and regular old marital disagreements. But even despite these big and small conflicts, none of the Duggar children have ever gotten divorced.

This precedent for working things out probably helps the Duggars have longer lasting marriages. Are they happy? It probably ebbs and flows like any relationship. But Duggars will stick it out ‘til death do they part even when there are hard weeks, months, or even years in their marriages.

No one is happy all the time

Married couples who stand the test of time will tell you that there’s no such thing as being happily ever after. Even the strongest, best-suited couples are bound to have marital fights and rough patches. But the difference the Duggars share is that they’ll stay married even if they’re miserable.

Let’s just hope they aren’t!