Anna Duggar compares marriage trouble to labor pains

Dec 28, 2015 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Image: Kris Connor/Getty Images

Anna Duggar may not be the person any of us want to model our marriages after. But the young mother and wife of embattled reality star Josh Duggar had some interesting things to say about marriage recently.

On Sunday night's final episode of Jill & Jessa: Counting On, Anna Duggar talked about what it felt like when she found out about her husband's cheating (and the accusations of sex abuse against him).

"At one point," Anna says, "I was like, 'I feel like I've been in labor for, like, days.' It's like when you're in labor, you just make it through the next contraction and go on, and I think there's been a lot of that lately, of just taking the next step and going on."

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It's an interesting take, to be sure. But it's also kind of a sad one. Marriage just shouldn't feel like that. And the fact is, there are certain behaviors that should be unacceptable in marriage. During labor, a baby comes at the end. That is by and large a cause for celebration. But what does Anna get at the end of her "labor"? A sham? A marriage in which the pain outweighs the good? What kind of life is that?

I am no marriage expert, and I don't know Anna and Josh personally. But I have been married for a good 12-plus years, and in those years, we have always respected each other. Sure, we have fought. There have been happier times and sadder times. We have wondered if we belonged together and made up passionately. But through it all, the core of our marriage has always been one of friendship and respect. There are no lies between us. There is no cheating.

Marriages can overcome incredible obstacles, it's true. But how much is too much? To use the labor analogy, some labors are just not meant to be. Sometimes babies get stuck. Sometimes a baby needs to be cut out for the health of the mother. What that means for Anna's marriage is anyone's guess, but from my perspective, it could mean cutting her losses and moving on to a man who will respect both her and their union.

Now, Anna Duggar and I are not the same people, and we don't have the same values. But I think we can all agree that the purpose of marriage, in addition to building a family and life together, is to be happy. Of course there is pain. But having delivered three babies with no drugs (one at home, just like Anna), I have to deviate from the idea that marriage is just like that.

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One is very painful and difficult. The other shouldn't be. One is optional. The other isn't. It makes me sad for her that she should view a beautiful union as something so full of strife and pain. And it tells us so much about the state of her union.

My heart goes out to her.

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