My husband and I are high school sweethearts. We were junior high sweethearts, meeting in 7th grade at the art table. We’ve been together ever since. This October, we will celebrate 6 years of marriage.
Many critics will probably highlight the negatives of marrying your high school sweetheart. Where’s the spontaneous chance to “play the field?” How can you be sure someone is your “one and only” if you haven’t explored very many possibilities, if any?
I can understand this perspective, but I certainly don’t share in these views For me, sacrificing the relationship I had with Chad was never worth the opportunity to “explore other possibilities.” Life without him, even in exchange for “freedom” was never worth it.
“How can you be sure someone is your “one and only” if you haven’t explored very many possibilities, if any?”
However, I can agree there are negatives to marrying your high school sweetheart. Think of your most awkward stage in junior high or high school. You know, the messy hair, the mom jeans at 13, the fads you which you’d have passed on. Think of the worst school picture you have, the one you’ve tried to obliterate from all photo albums and memories.
Now imagine your spouse was there to witness those moments live.
I will never be able to obliterate from my husband’s mind my horrible, frizzy bowl-cut stage from 7th grade coupled with my love of tie-dye shirts, no matter how hard I try.
Overall, though, when thinking about my relationship and the fact we’ve been together so long, the benefits certainly outweigh the horrible photographs and awkward stages. All in all, I think there are many benefits to marrying your high school sweetheart.
1. Your relationship survived periods of great change.
Most relationships must weather periods of change and turmoil at some point. For some, these times come after marriage, when the stakes are even higher. For us, though, the periods of turmoil and change came before marriage.
Meeting your significant other before you’ve graduated means you’ve managed to maintain a bond through the most tumultuous period of life. You’ve both had to go through the period of discovering who you are, what you want in life, and how to deal with the slap in the face from the real world.
If you can survive as a couple through those late teen years when you’re wading through waters of uncertainty or even if you find each other again afterwards, chances are you’ll be able to handle other life changes together. If at the end of this period of self-discovery you find you still want to fit together, you’ve probably created a solid foundation for marriage.
2. High school reunions aren’t so awkward.
This summer, we attended our 10-year high school reunion. While other spouses were left sipping sodas in the corner trying to laugh at jokes they didn’t understand, neither of us had to experience that. We both had people to see and stories to tell. Walking into your 10-year reunion with a fellow classmate beside you makes the whole process less intimidating.
3. Sharing a hometown means sharing common experiences.
For those high school sweethearts who actually attend the same high school, living in the same hometown can create common experiences and lead to similar values. We see the world in somewhat similar ways because we grew up in the same part of the world. No matter where you go in life, your roots are an essential thread in the fabric of who you are. We both have similar threads, leading to shared perspectives, values, and even a stronger bond.
4. Your connection has time to grow/mature before marriage.
When we said “I do,” we had a decade of being together under our belts. Certainly, marriage is always difficult and complex. It changes things.
Going to the altar, though, with years of memories, connections, and triumphs as a couple can harbor confidence in your vows. I knew when we said our vows we had a foundation to be successful in the next step of our life together.
5. You have adorable photographs for your mantle.
Minus the awkward ___th grade photo you hate, of course. Proms, graduations, dances―we have photos from all of the momentous occasions with both of us in them.
“Having a single one-and-only for the majority of your adult life (or all of it) can be less devastating to the heart.”
6. Going from friends to lovers strengthens your emotional connection.
For many high school sweethearts, friendship and the emotional bond is at the forefront of the early years. My husband and I found we had years in high school to work on our emotional connection and to get to know each other at a fundamental level.
Without the pressures of adult romance, such as when to move in together or dealing with career choices in addition to relationship choices, we had time to focus on getting to know each other before life got too complicated.
Even though most teenagers don’t believe this, life in high school is often simpler than adult life at the core. Stripping away some of the difficulties of the “real world” allows you to build a friendship as a basis for your relationship. This friendship has enhanced the core elements of our relationship, giving us a sturdy foundation to build our marriage upon.
7. We can share “do you remember when” laughs.
All of those laughable moments from high school, those gut-splitting stories of teenage craziness, are memories we share. We can reminisce together and share in the laughter of the past.
We still live in our hometown, so we sometimes see old peers when we’re out. No lengthy explanations are needed to explain who so-and-so was; we can both go all in with our memories. The connection that comes from a common past helps us share in more moments together.
8. Our hearts are relatively free of breaks and cracks.
Certainly, we had devastating moments as a couple. There were moments of tears, of anger, of regret, of guilt. There were fights that plagued us; there are still fights today. No love is perfect.
For some high school sweethearts, there might even be periods of separation, of throwing in the towel, of wandering away from the love before finding it again.
Still, our hearts remain relatively trauma-free. Having a single one-and-only for the majority of your adult life (or all of it) can be less devastating to the heart. I didn’t have to agonize over failed relationship after failed relationship to find “the elusive one.” I didn’t experience tons of heartbreak before finding a man who completed me.
Some would call this a detrimental consequence of marrying your high school sweetheart. Heartbreak is a human emotion that allows you to see love with eyes of truth.
To be honest, I don’t know if this is true or not. However, I do know having a relationship that isn’t tainted by past hurts can be a benefit, at least in my situation. I didn’t walk into this relationship with previous notions about love or trust issues. A break-free heart might not be the healthiest thing or even rational, but it’s helped me experience love without hesitation.
9. We are close with our in-laws.
Being together in high school means we spent a lot of time with our families. I knew my in-laws like my own family before we got married, and vice versa. Having time to build a relationship with your significant other’s family before saying “I do” leads to better relationships in marriage. It gives you time to sort out your place in the family, your connections, and even issues that may surface well in advance.
10. We have more years together.
At 28, I’ve already had 16 years with my husband. We’ve had 16 years of laughs, of memories, of hand holding, of fun. We’ve had 16 years of holidays, of trips, of simple moments in our hometown.
Marrying your high school sweetheart has the simple benefit of more years of memory-making, more years together, something any real love craves.
My experience may not be everyone’s experience. As I said, one can certainly find negative aspects to marrying someone you were with in high school. Looking back, though, I’m grateful for the time we’ve shared and our love story that isn’t unique in its beginnings, but is unique in the way it works for us.
Not everyone can marry their high school sweetheart. For some, the time for this has already passed. Still, I think the benefits of marrying a high school sweetheart can teach lessons in love for any relationship. Really, the bottom line is this, no matter what stage of life you’re in: Marry the person you can’t stand to make memories without.
If this happens in high school, great. If it doesn’t, you can still find your own list of benefits as long as you find someone who understands you at the core, appreciates where you come from, and is willing to make a lifetime of memories with you. With some hard work and dedication, the rest will fall into place.
Lindsay Detwiler is a high school English teacher and published contemporary romance author. To learn more about her novels, visit www.lindsaydetwiler.com