Ever since Josh Duggar‘s molestation and cheating scandals erupted back in 2015, there’s one person who’s been the unlikely and unwilling participant in the middle of all the drama: Josh’s wife, Anna Duggar. After the news broke about Josh’s cheating, many wondered if the 29-year-old mom-of-five would divorce Josh, even though it was against her and her family’s religion. But not only did she decide to stay, she then blamed herself for Josh’s wandering, hypocritical eyes. And that’s when I realized something — Anna’s personal life seriously sucks. And now that she and Josh just welcomed their fifth child, Mason, in September 2017, I’m starting to feel like it’s less likely that she’ll ever be “free.”
In 2015, after Josh admitted to using the cheating site Ashley Madison, viewing pornography, and being, you know, the “biggest hypocrite ever” (his actual words), Anna has been trapped in a weird personal purgatory. After the news broke, Josh and Anna took their kids and moved back to the Duggar compound in Arkansas. A little later, Josh checked into a faith-based rehab facility, Reformers Unanimous, in Rockford, IL, leaving Anna and her four kids stranded with the Duggars, a scenario I often thinking about in my worst nightmares.
With the father of her children out of the picture, Anna moved back and forth between Arkansas and Florida, where her parents live. On the positive side, you can say Anna wanted to be close to family as she struggled with one of the worst years of her life. On the flip side, many fans thought it was awfully patronizing of Josh’s parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar to make Anna, an adult mother of four, sleep in the girls’ dorm like she was a mere Duggar daughter still waiting to be courted. Fans thought it was almost as if the family didn’t trust her and wanted to keep her close and under their control before she ran around and did something crazy like, you know, file for divorce from her cheating, lying husband. However, I think that theory is unlikely.
According to reports, Anna’s family is actually more strict than the Duggars. Couple that fact with the alleged rumor that her parents threatened to disown her if she divorced Josh, and you quickly start to realize why “taking the kids and running” might not have been a viable option for her. And, keep in mind, both the Duggars and Anna’s parents are devout Christians who follow the teachings from the ATI Institute, which teach women to be completely devoted to their husbands. Michelle Duggar once famously said that a woman’s duty is to give sex to her husband whenever he asks — even if she’s tired.
“There will be times you’re going to be very exhausted,” she said on the Today show in 2014. “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,” she said. “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.”
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Another thing to keep in mind is Anna, like the Duggars, was homeschooled using the ATI curriculum. Her only education is a certificate from an online Christian college program in early childhood education. So even if Anna wanted to leave, her options aren’t exactly glowing. What sort of job could she get? How would she support her children? How will she be able to juggle all those responsibilities on her own? Once you look at her options, you start to realize why she stayed.
Earlier this year when it was announced that she was pregnant with baby No. 5, fans were furious. “Why is she staying with him?!” people angrily posted on Twitter. Others cynically scoffed that the pregnancy was just a “makeup” baby to try to fix an already broken marriage.
But as everyone bangs their head against the wall, wondering why Anna chooses to stay while criticizing her choices, I ask for you to take a look at the bigger picture. If she leaves, look at everything she stands to lose: her friends, her family, her church. All the things that, let’s be honest, define her as a human being. One cheating husband doesn’t get to magically take it all away, which is why she’s “stuck.” And as much I would love to personally free her from Josh or her inevitable future being Michelle No. 2, it looks like Anna’s life is one she can’t run away from.