The Danger Of Marrying Your High School Sweetheart

Take a moment to think back to your high school days.  Recall the songs that were popular, your school colors, your favorite teacher, the teacher you hated, the school cafeteria,  your best friends, what you did on Friday nights, Saturday football games,  your first car, the prom, and the person you had a crush on.

Some of these crushes turned into relationships.  Romances during the teen years can feel pretty hot and heavy.  High school romances are supercharged by raging hormones, the newness of the experience, a desire to show parents that you are now adults, and in some cases, by peer pressure to be connected to a boyfriend or a girlfriend.  In my youth, this was called “going steady.”

Over the years, I have counseled many men and woman who married their high school sweetheart.  Some of these couples got married when they were well  under twenty one years of age.

In my view, it is hard for a relationship which begins in late adolescence to remain  intact through adulthood.   I say this for several reasons.

First and foremost, people grow and change a great deal from age thirty-five to age fifty.  However, the growth and change that they experience from age eighteen to thirty five is enormous.   How likely is it for people who meet at this young age to grow in a similar or compatible manner?  In my opinion, it is quite improbable.

During these years, people are apt to want to change majors, change jobs, travel and live in different places.   It is hard for two people to get on the same path when one or both of them are considering these kinds of changes.  Again, think about how different you were at age eighteen vs. age thirty five.

People are also still apt to be sexually curious during their late adolescence and may be more inclined to stray from their marriages to explore other romantic opportunities at this time in their lives.  Extramarital affairs put a lot of pressure on marriages and frequently cause their demise.

In addition, we know that some marital stress is caused by financial pressure.  People who get married young sometimes do not give themselves a chance to develop the careers and the earning power they need to live comfortably.

There is some research which points out that younger couples divorce more frequently than do older couples.  According to a piece in The New York Times, more marriages dissolve before the age of 30 than at any other time. Furthermore,  the divorce rate for young couples is more than double the national average.

Keeping a relationship and family vibrant and intact requires maturity, patience, selflessness, flexibility and well honed communication skills.  How many of us have these qualities in our early years?

Now, I am not saying that you can’t live happily ever after with your lover from the eleventh grade.  There are some people who have done this successfully. However, it may be wise to postpone marriage until your mid twenties just to make sure the two of you are growing in a compatible way and are still the right fit for one another.

About the author

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D., is a Psychotherapist and Licensed Marriage And Family

Therapist in River Edge, NJ.   Dr. Granat has appeared in many major media outlets including Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

 He is also the Founder of www.StayInTheZone.com.You can learn more about him at www.DrJayGranat.com.

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