Josh and Anna Duggar: Would You Stay With a Cheater?

Korin Miller
·Writer
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Josh and Anna Duggar welcomed their fourth child, Meredith Grace, about one month before it was revealed that Josh had had affairs with other women via the website Ashley Madison. Will Anna stay with Josh? Sources say yes, and experts say that’s not so strange. (Photo: Instagram)

19 Kids and Counting fans were shocked this week when conservative star Josh Duggar admitted what had previously just been a report: He had cheated on his wife, Anna, using the infidelity website Ashley Madison.

He released the following statement on DuggarFamily.com:

“I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have been 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.

I have brought hurt and a reproach to my family, close friends and the fans of our show with my actions.

The last few years, while publicly stating I was fighting against immorality in our country I was hiding my own personal failures.

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 the 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.”

The statement originally including a confession to a porn addiction as well, but it was later removed.

The statement came after Gawker reported that Duggar spent nearly $1,000 for two different monthly subscriptions to Ashley Madison from February 2013 to May 2015, which were revealed after the website’s data hack. He also paid $250 for an “affair guarantee,” which offers a customers money back if they don’t have an affair within three months.

This is the second scandal surrounding Josh Duggar this year. In May, In Touch revealed that Duggar had sexually molested five young girls, including his own sisters, when he was a teenager.

Related: You Don’t Need Ashley Madison’s Hacked Information to Spot a Cheater

Duggar later issued a statement that said he “acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret.” Anna Duggar also released a statement at the time, in which she thanked the people who counseled her husband after he molested others, adding, “your investment changed his life from going down the wrong path to doing what is right.”

But despite the latest scandal and urging from fans on social media, insiders say Anna Duggar won’t divorce her husband. “No way is she leaving him,” a source told People.com.

If Anna Duggar chooses to stay, she won’t be the first.

In fact, despite conventional wisdom, clinical psychologist John Mayer, PhD, author of “Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life,” tells Yahoo Health that the majority of people stay with a cheating partner.

As time goes on, a person is a little more likely to leave, but often doesn’t — provided the cheater doesn’t cheat again.

But why would someone stay married to a person, despite knowing that they were cheated on, sometimes repeatedly?

There are many reasons, Mayer says, but these are the biggest:

  1. Lifestyle security (this includes financial reasons)

  2. Fear (for their physical safety, of losing their lifestyle, and of confrontation)

  3. Dependence (a person has become so dependent on their partner that they feel trapped)

  4. Religious reasons (in some religions, divorce is considered unacceptable)

  5. Deeper psychological issues (lack of confidence and self-esteem. A person may also enjoy the sympathy that comes with being a victim, Mayer says.)

  6. Family culture (some families won’t consider the option)

Regardless of the reasoning for staying, being cheated on takes a serious emotional toll. “The victims of cheating suffer self-esteem and identity crises as a result,” says Mayer.

Related: New Study Reveals Who’s More Likely to Cheat in a Relationship

They also often experience guilt, wondering what they did wrong or why they weren’t “good enough,” Mayer says, but usually don’t express it to friends or family because they’re ashamed.

And, of course, they’re angry.

The road to repair a relationship after one person cheats is difficult, but Mayer says a couple isn’t necessarily doomed after a cheating scandal. Some even go on to have a stronger and happier relationship.

But Atlanta-based psychologist and relationship therapist Jared DeFife, PhD, tells Yahoo Health there is a “potentially disastrous situation” if a partner stays out of a sense of blind faith or unwillingness to examine the cheating behavior clearly and critically.

Related: Tempted to Check Out the Leaked Info From the Ashley Madison Hack? What That Says About You

“This tends to happen especially when the infidelity is chronic and often when their partners show substance use or other addictive behaviors as well,” he says. “It’s as if people shut themselves off from their own emotional danger signals and turn a blind eye to the problem, despite the harsh reality of the situation.”

However, DeFife agrees that it’s possible to repair, rebuild, and renew a relationship after one partner cheats — but it’s not easy. “Not everyone is up for the challenge, but those who are often report that it was worth the effort,” he says.

Anna Duggar has not publicly commented on the scandal.

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