The Special Case of High School Sweethearts

Love and Marriage Between High School Sweethearts

Religion, age, and location all have a part to play, but the research confirms an essential fact: those who marry their high school sweethearts will always tend to have happy, less conflict-laden marriages. Even if they eventually end up divorced for some reason.

  • Marrying young is a proven relationship stressor. High school sweethearts that get married while still teenagers have only about a 54% chance of enjoying a marriage lasting a decade.
  • High school sweethearts that wait until at least the age of 25 to get married have a much greater success rate at the 10 year mark of 78%. This statistic follows the natural law that by the mid-twenties the brain is fully mylenated into a recognizably adult brain.
  • Early Marriage impacts class position: Only 19% of people who marry their high school sweethearts attend college.

It’s the last fact right there that is most sobering. Only 1 out of 5 people who marry their high school sweethearts ever even get to college, no matter what their age happens to be when they decided to get married. An even more fascinating and amazing statistic is this: less than 2% of people who marry their high school sweethearts ever earn a college degree.

Much has changed in 40 years in how the institution of marriage is perceived.  When to  marry, or when not to marry, has always been a moving cultural norm.  People who marry their high school sweetheart might be happier, but they may also tend to accumulate less wealth, and are sometimes less competitive in the job market.

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What Is the Neuro-Science On Marrying Your First Love?

  • Parents greatest fear of their children marrying young is that they will become a parent too early.
  • Less than 2% of all marriages are to a high school sweetheart. Attachment to a high school sweetheart has enormous implications for life decisions, values, and choices.
  • Many people decide not to marry their high school sweetheart not because of love for another potential partner. But rather a love of freedom and exploration. This is sometimes called “practicing” on the way to differentiation in the Developmental Model of Couples Therapy.
  • Clinical Research suggests that early relationships that have some sort of spiritual component are much more likely to succeed, interestingly, this is true even if there are different religions or spiritual perspectives in the relationship. It seems that spirituality, not necessarily conformity of spiritual belief protects couples over time.
  • In 1970, the average age of a new bride was just 21 years of age. The new norm has moved higher. This is a good thing.
  • All marriages have tended to see a decline in divorce rates over the past 30 years.
  • According to some research, couples who meet in school are less likely to divorce than couples who met in any other setting.

This data is that although it is very suggestive of the idea that couples which met in High School are less likely to divorce. However, they may also be subject to particular economic and developmental challenges emerging from the crucial life-choice they made to form a household in young adulthood.

About the Author Daniel Dashnaw

Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He currently sees couples at Couples Therapy Inc. using EFT, Gottman Method, and the Developmental Model.

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