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Josh Duggar and Anna Duggar’s marriage is certainly in a weird place. The troubled former reality TV star will likely spend the next several years behind bars, and his wife of 13 years will need to figure out how to raise their seven children largely unassisted. The couple’s marriage always struck some Duggar family followers as strange, though. In fact, some critics think the Anna Duggar and the Keller family had no idea Josh was planning to propose back in 2008. 

There is evidence to suggest Josh and Anna Duggar did not have a courtship.

While Josh and Anna have been married for more than a decade at this point, Duggar family followers still feel uneasy about the union. There is good reason, too. There is a fair bit of circumstantial evidence to suggest an actual marriage proposal was not supposed to be a part of Josh’s trip to Florida back in 2008. 

In a 19 Kids and Counting episode covering Josh and Anna’s engagement, Michelle Duggar clearly stated that Anna had agreed not to court until she turned 20. Josh proposed marriage on Anna’s 20th birthday, and she accepted. While it was never specifically stated, Duggar family critics have inferred that Josh and Anna did not have a courtship. They skipped courting entirely and began planning a wedding. 

The couple’s engagement was not a long one, either. They became engaged at the end of June 2008. They got married in September 2008. The couple also appeared to spend limited time together in the months leading up to their marriage.  

Did the Kellers know Josh Duggar was planning to propose? 

The short engagement isn’t the strangest thing about Josh and Anna’s relationship timeline. In fact, that’s the most normal thing about their process. At least when compared to other couples in their social circle. The lack of a courtship however is strange. The missing courtship and Michelle’s words led some family followers to question whether Anna’s mother and father were even aware an actual proposal was happening when they helped Josh set up his big surprise. 

Anna Duggar and Josh Duggar standing next to each other and smiling
Anna Duggar and Josh Duggar pose during the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) | Kris Connor/Getty Images

Duggar family critics argue that Mike Keller seemed to use the term “courtship” multiple times during scenes from before the actual proposal. He said that Anna didn’t know if Josh had any interest in her even just a few months before the surprise proposal. While the Keller family has never said it, Duggar family critics believe the Keller family thought Josh was flying in to propose a courtship, not a marriage. 

Duggar family followers believe TLC cameras caught an awkward moment on film

Josh and Anna’s engagement felt forced and awkward when TLC originally aired the footage. Most viewers chalked that up to the couple’s excitement and inexperience. Family critics have never been sure about that. In recent years, Reddit users have gone back over the footage. With the help of hindsight, critics have begun to read into Anna’s body language. Anna appeared surprised and a bit uncomfortable about Josh’s sudden appearance. Initially, the Duggar family wrote off Anna’s shock as a woman who was just surprised to see her boyfriend. 


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Fans are now theorizing that Anna was shocked to see Josh because she didn’t know him all that well. They think she had no idea he was even interested in her at the time. We’ll likely never know whether that theory holds water. Anna is unlikely to go against her husband. Josh, along with his parents, has a pretty good reason to stick to the original story. What Anna chooses to do moving forward remains of interest, though. The mother of seven has gone largely underground since Josh’s guilty verdict in December 2021. While there are rumors that she is considering leaving the marriage, she hasn’t made any public moves yet.