If you had told me when I was a kid that I would meet my future husband at 14 years old right in front of my high school locker, I wouldn’t have believed you. I mean, it sounded like something I used to daydream about as a tween and young teen — something I’d have read in a young adult romance novel that everyone (including me) deemed 100 percent unrealistic.
But here I am, almost 25 years later, happily married to that boy who whistled The Beatles as he spun me around in the hallway, kissing me before math class, and making me dizzy. (Yeah, I almost failed trigonometry, but those kisses were so worth it.)
Turns out, we’re actually not as much of an anomaly as you might think. I don’t know if it was something in the water, but a bunch of kids from my hometown married their high school sweethearts, and I’ve since met a bunch of other couples who did the same.
I caught up with a few of my old pals (and a few new ones) to chat about what makes coupling up with your high school sweetheart the unique experience that it is. Here are a few of the highlights:
You transformed into adults together.
There is something pretty incredible about having experienced the tumultuous few years between adolescence and adulthood with the person you end up marrying. Rebecca Gopoian, a writer, teacher, and friend of mine who grew up in Teaneck, NJ, put it this way: “I think what makes it unique is that we completely transformed from children into adults, and the fact that we did that together is kind of amazing.” Yep, it absolutely is.
You experienced so many of life’s “firsts” together.
You may or may not have been each other’s first kiss, but there are definitely many, many firsts you experienced together, and there is something really special about that. “We’ve been through it all together, the good, the bad and the ugly,” says my friend Courtney, who’s from my hometown, and who married her high school boyfriend. “The awkward high school moments — first kiss, first more than that..our stories are entwined.”
You share many of the same old friends.
My husband isn’t the only one I’ve kept in touch with since high school. Several of my oldest and most cherished friends are from high school, and the great thing is that many of those friendships overlap with my husband’s. We have a total blast hanging out when we get a chance — and it’s really nice to have something like that that I share with him.
You know each other’s families very well.
You grew up with your in-laws about as much as you did with your own parents (this can be great sometimes, and other times not so great). As my cousin Joanna (who married her high school boyfriend) remembers it: “My husband’s mom says, ‘You were a child when you first came to my house!’” For her, this was totally a positive thing. “Having that long history together is a special thing,” she says.
You share a hometown — for better or worse.
I don’t totally adore my hometown (though since I’ve had kids, I understand better why my parents chose a good, suburban town to raise us in), but it’s pretty great to have it in common with my husband. It makes visiting family that much easier. And when we visit, there is nostalgia literally on every corner, which is pretty awesome.
Nostalgia is huge, and it can be amazing to go down memory lane together.
My husband and I love to reminisce. It’s like our favorite pastime. And sometimes talking about old times can get pretty dang romantic. When we’re in a rough patch, reminiscing about old times helps remind us why we are in this together in the first place.
You know everything about each other, and that can be a very good thing.
Once you’ve been through so many of life’s changes together, there’s not much you don’t know about each other. Maybe for some that would take the excitement out of the relationship, but for many of us who married our high school sweethearts, it just makes our love deeper, and more raw and unfiltered in a way. “Our joys and sorrows are shared, rather than related to each other,” my friend Courtney explains. “We grew up together. There is no veil. It was ripped off long ago.
You can recapture that feeling of youthful rebellion on a whim, and it keeps you young.
High school relationships require a fair amount of sneaking around and breaking rules. This spirit can definitely be carried into the adult relationships of high school sweethearts. And recalling those rebellious ways can be, well…HOT. Need I say more?
People said you wouldn’t last, but you did, and your relationship is stronger because of that.
Most people don’t believe young love will last. And truthfully, it often doesn’t. But making it through, despite the odds, is one of the things that makes high school sweethearts unique. And some of us (not naming names here) were told point blank, right in the face, that it was foolish to stay in a relationship like ours and we would regret not dating more. So being where we are now can feel very powerful and validating indeed.
You went through a lot together, and understand each other in ways that no one else can.
The teenage years aren’t always fun and roses — some serious stuff can go down, and it is a huge big deal to have gone through it together with the person you end up with. “The stories from the past aren’t just stories, they are our lives,” says my friend Lorin, who hails from my hometown, and who also married her high school sweetheart. “We went through a lot together even when we didn’t think it would be forever. There are things now that we understand about each because we were together then in a way I think if you get together later you don’t understand.”
Of course, the number one truth about being married to your high school sweetheart is that the two of you went to high school together and you didn’t end up totally hating each other by the end of it. If you can make it through a high school together — and not only be still speaking to each other, but also actually be head-over-heels in love decades later — now that is something to talk about, amiright?
In all seriousness, though, there are so many beautiful love stories out there, all unique in their own ways. And there are so many valid ways to find love and to sustain that love for the long haul. Those of us who end up marrying our high school sweethearts pinch ourselves every damn day and never stop feeling lucky for finding the love of our lives at such a young age.
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