Jim Bob Duggar, the patriarch featured on "19 Kids & Counting," said on Friday that he does not choose who his children marry but has been an instrumental part of their relationships.
"I do not choose who my children marry. Over the years, I have suggested guys to my daughters, or we have had a lot of guys that approach us and are interested in this girl or that girl, but each of our girls have chosen their spouse or their own," Jim Bob told People.
Daughters Jessa and Jill were each introduced to their husbands by Jim Bob, who played matchmaker. He was a prayer partner with Jill's husband Derick Dillard and even accompanied his daughter across the world to visit the missionary and his family in Nepal. Jessa's new husband Ben Seewald worked for Jim Bob before courting Jessa. He had a close relationship with Jim Bob but, like all future Duggar spouses, had to seek permission from her father before proposing.
"You know, I think the most important thing is when a couple can do more for the Lord together than they can apart, and when a husband can provide for his wife financially and take care of her," Jim Bob told Ben before finally granting him permission to ask Jessa's hand in marriage.
Michelle, Jim Bob's wife, explained the formal tradition.
"It's just understood that they're getting that clearance from the father because Daddy has their heart," she told viewers of the TV series. "And then he's the one who's gonna give that heart away to another man."
Michelle and Jim Bob have been married for 30 years, and three of their children have participated in the courting process before exchanging vows with their spouses. No one who fails the initial meeting with Jim Bob is permitted to continue on to the courting stage of a relationship with a Duggar child.
Jessa's wedding will be featured next season on "19 Kids & Counting" on TLC.