Just in time for Valentine's Day, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, stars of the TLC reality show "19 Kids and Counting," have revealed their best tips for keeping a marriage fresh and exciting, even after having over one dozen children. The two say some of their simple marriage rules help them feel like "a newlywed couple every day."
The reality show couple, who currently have 19 children, told "Today Moms" in a recent interview that they believe sex, communication, and realistic expectations are just a few of the things that keep their marriage enjoyable. The two are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary in July.
Michelle told "Today Moms" in a candid interview that she always makes herself available for her husband, both emotionally and sexually, even when she is exhausted. "In your marriage there will be times you're going to be very exhausted. 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. Be available. 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.'"
Jim Bob echoed Michelle's sentiment, saying her attitude makes them both feel like "a newlywed couple every day!"
Michelle went on to say that the strong, silent type of man doesn't always fare well in a long-lasting relationship, adding that she admires Jim Bob most when he can let down his guard and share his emotions with her. "He shares his heart with me, his struggles, his fears and his dreams," Michelle said. "Many men would not do that, but God's Word says that before honor comes humility. When he learns to humble himself before God and me, it builds him up so much in my eyes."
Additionally, the couple says striving for perfection is not the best way to have a relationship. Rather, Jim Bob says "expectations ruin relationships," and it's best to see your partner for what they truly are: a flawed but beautiful and lovable individual.
The Duggars, known for their strong evangelical faith, have been guiding public examples for the Christian community on relationships and other issues such as birth control and abortion. They said in an interview in November 2013 with People magazine that they also value their date nights and mutual encouragement as important ingredients to a happy marriage.
"We have a weekly date, even if it is just to take a walk in the park," Jim Bob said at the time. "We will go out to lunch or dinner and talk together about the kids, upcoming events, what we have coming up."
The couple also said last year that they value mutual encouragement, both toward each other and their children. "It is easy to think of the things that are bothering you more often than the things that are wonderful," Jim Bob told People. "It's important to remember those things about your spouse and think about those things. A great rule of thumb is to say 10 nice things to every one critical thing."
Jim Bob and Michelle live in Tontitown, Ark., and star with their 19 children on their reality television series, which airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST, 8 p.m. Central on the TLC network.