If you know anything about the Duggar family, then you’re probably aware that Jim Bob and company have some very strange ideas about relationships and marriage.
The sample size is small, but since the first Duggar kid to get married has committed multiple sex crimes and is currently in prison for possessing child pornography, thus far, then experiment doesn’t seem to be off to the greatest start.
Duggar children are encouraged to marry young — very young.
In fact, Josh proposed to Anna on her 18th birthday.
And you think the student loans you took out at that age were a mistake!
Anyway, the youth of Duggar newlyweds isn’t the only thing that sets them apart.
The couples are forced to follow a strange set of pre-wedding guidelines known as the Duggar courtship rules.
This demanding set of restrictions prohibits the couple from being alone together before they’re married.
And even when they’re sufficiently chaperoned, the couple is forbidden to engage in virtually all forms of physical contact before marriage.
The Duggars like to pretend that once the vows are exchanged, however, the newlyweds enjoy a normal amount of adult freedom and are encouraged to make up for all that premarital chastity by down to business several times a day.
(Provided the goal of said business is to make a baby, of course.)
But the truth is, Duggar marriages are often very different from those of non-evangelical couples.
Whenever possible, Duggar couples enter into a “covenant marriage” which is a legally distinct form of union that is only recognized in three states — including the family’s native Arkansas.
Under the terms of a covenant marriage, the couple agrees to extensive premarital counseling and more limited grounds for seeking divorce.
In convenant marriages a divorce from the other in cases of abuse or adultery, or when one partner simply takes off and leves for a period of more than two years.
And what does all of this have to do with Josh and Anna Duggar?
Well, there were hopes that after he was found guilty, Anna would divorce Josh.
But clearly, that hasn’t happened.
In fact insiders have indicated that Anna is Josh’s most frequent visitor, and she’s spent a fortune calling and emailing him in jail.
(Josh is currently being held in a county jail near Fayetteville, Arkansas, as he awaits his sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for April.)
Some observers have suggested that Anna can’t get divorced because of that pesky covenant marriage.
Josh will be gone for over two years, but it’s not by choice, and while he’s committed some truly unspeakable acts, they might not fall under the category of adultery, strictly-speaking.
So is Anna really stuck being married to Josh because of a bizarre arrangement that she agreed to when she was 18.
For starters, she and Josh actually tied the knot in her home state of Florida, which is not one of the three states that recognizes covenant marriages (the others being Arizona and Louisiana).
On top of that, most covenant marriage agreements allow for divorce in cases where one partner has committed a felony, which Josh obviously has.
So the good news is, Anna could file for divorce if she so chooses.
The bad news is, she almost certainly won’t do so.
Divorce is still strongly frowned-upon in the Duggars’ community, and with seven kids to support and no job experience, Anna will almost certainly be relying upon her wealthy in-laws in the years to come.
So even from prison, Josh still has a large amount of control over Anna’s life.
And the situation serves as a reminder that Jim Bob put all of those rules in place for a reason.