Josh and Anna Duggar have been through trials and tribulations throughout their eight-year marriage, but the couple remained committed to rebuilding their life together.
On Friday, the couple announced in a Duggar family blog post that they are expecting their fifth child — a baby boy due later this year.
Although the former reality stars, who rose to fame on TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, admit that the past two years — which included scandal and infidelity — haven’t been easy for them to get through, they believe that “beauty comes from ashes” and say they are looking forward to what’s in store.
Josh, 29, who is the eldest of the Duggar family’s 19 children, met 28-year-old Anna, who is one of eight children, at a Christian homeschooling convention back in 2006 when she was a teen. Not long after, and to the delight of the Duggars and Anna’s own ultra-conservative parents, Mike and Suzette Keller, the two began courting.
Two years later, they married on Sept. 26, 2008, at Buford Grove Baptist Church in Hillard, Florida, near the bride’s hometown of Gainesville, where they shared their first kiss and promised as part of their wedding vows — the wedding was featured on season 2 of 19 Kids and Counting in 2009 — to leave the decision on how many children the couple will have “up to God.”
Just three months after saying “I do” to Anna, Josh — who ran his own car dealership in Springdale, Arkansas — told PEOPLE, “Married life has been great. It’s definitely quieter than being in a house with so many kids. When I go to the grocery store, it feels strange only having one shopping cart.”
“I would welcome a big family,” Josh said. “My parents have been wonderful examples.” Added Anna: “I would love to have as many children as God would bless us with. Growing up in a large family, and Joshua in a mega-family, you learn so much more. I think a large family helps you prepare for life.”
Growing a Family of Their Own
Just over a year after Josh and Anna tied the knot they welcomed their first child, daughter Mackynzie Renée, 7, who was later followed by siblings Michael, 5, Marcus, 3, and Meredith, 19 months.
But just one month after the birth of their fourth child, scandal rocked Josh and Anna’s marriage. (The duo had been living in Washington D.C. where he was working as a a lobbyist for the highly conservative and controversial Family Research Council.)
A Shocking Scandal
In mid-May 2015, Josh apologized for his “wrongdoing” after a 2006 police report revealed that he had been investigated as a teen for inappropriately touching five underage girls. His sisters Jill, 25, and Jessa, 24, subsequently stepped forward as two of the victims.
Months later, in August 2015, Gawker reported that the oldest Duggar son appeared to have had active accounts on Ashley Madison, a website created to facilitate cheating on your spouse.
Josh ultimately confessed to having a pornography addiction and cheating on his wife in an apologetic statement on the Duggar family website.
“I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife. I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and family, and most of all Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him,” the statement read.
The statement continued: “I brought hurt and a reproach to my family, close friends and the fans of our show with my actions that happened when I was 14-15 years old, and now I have re-broken their trust. The last few years, while publicly stating I was fighting against immorality in our country, I was hiding my own personal failings. As I am learning the hard way, we have the freedom to choose our actions, but we do not get to choose our consequences. I deeply regret all hurt I have caused so many by being such a bad example. I humbly ask for your forgiveness. Please pray for my precious wife Anna and our family during this time.”
An Extended Stay In Rehab
Just under a week after making his confession, Josh sought treatment at a faith-based rehabilitation center in Rockford, Illinois.
“Yesterday Josh checked himself into a long-term treatment center,” his parents announced on the family’s website. “For him it will be a long journey toward wholeness and recovery. We pray that in this he comes to complete repentance and sincere change. In the meantime, we will be offering our love, care and devoted support to Anna and our grandchildren as she also receives counsel and help for her own heart and future. During this time we continue to look to God – He is our rock and comfort. We ask for your continued prayers for our entire family.”
That January, an openly hurt and humiliated Anna released a statement about her difficult year and revealed that she had visited Josh in rehab, calling it “an important step on a long difficult road” to repairing their marriage.
“Please continue to pray for me, Josh and our children,” she said.
The March, Josh completed his six-month stint in the rehab facility and returned to Arkansas, where he continued to receive “professional counseling and focus on rebuilding relationships with his family.”
After returning to his family’s home state of Arkansas, Josh and Anna revealed that they had entered marriage counseling following their difficult year.
“As we enter into a long family weekend together, we want to thank each of you for the prayers, love and encouragement you’ve sent our way,” the couple said in a statement and added that they had been “working with a professional marriage and family counselor to take important steps toward healing” since Josh had left rehab.
“It isn’t easy and some days are very difficult. It is a long road to rebuild trust and a truly healthy relationship,” they added.
“We are very thankful for God’s forgiveness, grace and help, as it is our strength and guide to rebuilding our lives. As the future unfolds, we are taking one day at a time and we are grateful for your continued prayers for both of us and our sweet children,” the statement concluded.
Although Josh and Anna kept a low profile in the months following the scandal that surrounded their family, he slowly began returning to the public eye in fall of last year.
He was spotted at a family gathering for a close friend’s birthday in early September, where he posed for a large group photo alongside his wife. Weeks later, the couple celebrated their eight-year wedding anniversary. “Happy Anniversary, Josh and Anna,” the Duggar family wrote alongside a photo of the couple. “We are so thankful for God’s redemptive love in your lives.”
In November, the duo enjoyed a night out with Anna’s sister Priscilla and her husband David Waller after Jinger Duggar and Jeremy Vuolo’s wedding.
The Wallers took to social media to share a picture of the two couples at their Sunday evening dinner. “Thank you, Josh & Anna, for a wonderful weekend together topped off with a fun #doubledate this evening!” they captioned the shot. “You’ll are doing great! #sistertime #familytime.”
On March 3, the Duggars shared a rare family photo of Josh and Anna with their four children in honor of their eldest son’s 29th birthday.
“Happy birthday, Josh. We love you, your amazing wife and sweet children,” they captioned the photo. “We pray that you diligently follow and serve the Lord with your whole heart all the days of your life and that this year is a wonderful year for you and your family.”
Although the couple have largely remained out of the spotlight throughout the past two years, they gave a family update on Friday via the Duggar family blog, where they addressed the impact of Josh’s scandals — and revealed that they’re expecting their fifth child.
“For nearly the last two years, we have quietly worked to save our marriage, focus on our children, and rebuild our lives together as a family. Doing so is never easy after a breach of trust,” the blog post began.
“We’ve learned that a life of faith and rebuilding a life together is simply done one day at a time,” the post continued.
“As we continue our journey as a family and rebuild our lives, we are delighted to share with you that we are expecting a new baby boy later this year. Beauty comes from ashes and we cannot wait to see and kiss the face of this sweet new boy!” Josh and Anna signed the post.