‘Counting On’: Which Duggar Couple Had the Strictest Courtship Rules?

The Duggar family is known for their ultra-conservative Christian beliefs. Over the years, family followers have been particularly interested in the concept of courtship, and how Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar managed to convince their children to avoid traditional dating in favor of courtships. To be fair, not every courtship is created equally, and some Duggar kids followed stricter rules leading up to their wedding day than others. So, which Duggar kid had the strictest courtship? The answer might surprise you.

How is a courtship different than dating?

The Duggar family believes in courtship instead of traditional dating. According to the family, courtships are designed to ensure young couples can avoid temptation and keep themselves pure until their wedding date. In short, when a couple enters a courtship, they are merely suggesting that they are seriously considering marriage. Additional rules about physical intimacy and alone time are placed on courting couples.

Ben Seewald, Spurgeon Seewald, Jessa Seewald, Jinger Duggar, Joy-Anna Duggar, Jana Duggar, John David Duggar, Josiah Duggar and Joseph Duggar
Ben Seewald, Spurgeon Seewald, Jessa Seewald, Jinger Duggar, Joy-Anna Duggar, Jana Duggar, John David Duggar, Josiah Duggar, and Joseph Duggar | Ida Mae Astute/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

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While some courtships end in breakups, the vast majority of courtships announced by the Duggar family have led to marriage. Thus far, family followers can only confirm one failed courtship for the Duggar family. Josiah Duggar courted Marjorie Jackson for several months in 2015, before announcing they had parted ways. He has since moved on and is now married to Lauren Swanson, although fans question how happy the couple is together.

John David Duggar and Abbie Burnett broke a lot of courtship rules

John David Duggar and his wife Abbie Burnett are definitely out of the running for having the strictest courtship. In fact, the couple’s budding relationship appeared to be the most relaxed. During an episode of Counting On, John and Abbie explained that they were older than most couples when they first got together, so they took some liberties with their courtship rules.

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The pair engaged in more physical touch than the other Duggar couples, and while they reportedly didn’t kiss until they met at the altar, they did enjoy a bit more alone time than most couples in the family. Rumors have swirled that the pair even hung out together without a chaperone on more than one occasion, although the duo didn’t confirm or deny those allegations.

Family followers think Joseph Duggar and Kendra Caldwell had the strictest courtship

While many of the Duggar kids followed the same basic courtship rules, like always having chaperones present, some followed more stringent guidelines when it came to physical touch. Joseph Duggar and his wife, Kendra Caldwell, appeared, during their courtship, to be particularly uncomfortable with the concept of touching.

Inquistr notes that the couple put a time limit on how long their hugs could last (three seconds), and those hugs could never be full-frontal hugs. They also decided not to hold hands while in the courtship phase, and they certainly weren’t allowed to kiss before they walked down the aisle. On top of all those rules, they agreed never to be alone together, and Joseph wasn’t even allowed to drape his arm over his lady friend’s shoulder.

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Joseph and Kendra appear to be the most conservative of the young Duggar couples. Aside from abiding by strict courtship rules, the pair are also following the modest dress code that was set up by the Duggar family years ago. Kendra, unlike a couple of her sisters-in-law, doesn’t wear pants. Fans also believe the duo are on track to provide Jim Bob and Michelle with the most grandchildren.