Why John David and Abbie Duggar Didn’t Have a Traditional Duggar Family Courtship

Dating is a little bit different if you’re a Duggar. Fans know that the family has some pretty strict rules when it comes to interacting with the opposite sex before marriage. But John David and Abbie Duggar, who got married in November 2018, are apparently a bit rebellious. It turns out they didn’t follow some of the usual courtship traditions when they were engaged.

Duggar family dating rules

John David Duggar and Abbie
John David and Abbie | duggarfam via Instagram

The Duggars don’t do casual dating. Instead, they practice “courtship.” The goal of courtship is to decide if the other person would make a suitable husband or wife. (The Duggars call it “dating with a purpose.”)

Forget about getting to know another person over romantic dinners for two or a night at the movies. All dates are chaperoned. Parents Jim Bob and Michelle even keep an eye on phone calls and texts. When Ben Seewald was courting Jessa, her mom and dad were included on every text he sent her.

The Duggars also save physical contact for marriage. While a couple might side hug, or hold hands once they are engaged, they usually keep their hands off each other. The first kiss happens at the altar on their wedding day.

While the rules might seem rigid, Jim Bob and Michelle do give their kids a certain amount of freedom, they told Today in 2014, with each couple required to set their own boundaries regarding physical contact. However, they’re encouraged to save most touching for marriage.

Josiah and Abbie followed different rules

In a teaser for a recent episode of Counting On, John David reveals that he and Abbie followed “slightly different” dating rules than his siblings.

“We all get to make a decision on what our standards are,” he explained. “We chose to be able to have some contact versus no contact.” For them, that meant occasional hugs, and that John David could put his arm around Abbie.

“We felt it was appropriate for where we are in this stage of life,” John David said. While many Duggars start courting in their late teens, John David is 29 and Abbie is 26. They felt they were more mature and could handle slightly more contact.

“At the beginning of our relationship, John and I sat down and kind of made a list of guidelines for ourselves to keep in relation to how much we touch,” Abbie said, adding that the rules were about “honoring God.”

Are the rules for boys and girls different?

Some have wondered if the Duggar courting rules are a little more relaxed for guys than they are for girls. When Josiah Duggar was courting Lauren Swanson in 2018, the couple were spotted getting cozy on a family trip to New Zealand, and they were apparently allowed one-on-one Facetime conversations. Clearly, John David also felt he and Abbie could be a bit more flexible than some of his siblings.  

Abbie is breaking rules in other ways

In addition to setting more liberal courtship rules with her fiancé, Abbie is making waves in other ways. Duggar women generally don’t work outside the home, especially after they are married. But Abbie studied nursing and recently became licensed to practice in Arkansas. That suggests she might be planning on continuing to work.

Whatever she decides, it seems like this couple is comfortable pushing some boundaries in their ultra-conservative family.

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