True Story: I Married My High School Sweetheart

This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people that have experienced interesting/challenging/amazing things. In honor of Valentine’s Day, this is the story of my BFF, Darcie, who married her high school sweetheart. Awwwww!

Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m Darcie, and I live in St. Paul. I’m thirty, work for a smallish-do-goodery-for-profit company as the sole member of the marketing team. I have hobbies, but it’s most important to know that I love: my friends and family, delicious beer, sunshiny days, sarcasm, domestic chores, black clothes and Photoshopping animals into photos of myself where I make the “HELL YES!” face and give thumbs up. I have known my husband, Chad, for over 16 years, we’ve been together for 14, married four and a half.

How did you meet your now-husband?
When I was 14, our concert band attended a contest at a nearby school. At some point during the day there was a bomb threat (!) so we left the school to seek shelter in the church basement next door, and that is when I saw Chad for the first time.He was VERY cute, with his waist length hair, old man glasses and saggy jeans. Those young hormones struck me and the thought, “He will be mine!” went through my brain, like that scene in Wayne’s World. That same day, a friend and I met his younger brother, she started dating said brother. Over the next two years, I crushed on other boys and heard stories about Chad second hand.

We had our first date about two weeks before my 17th birthday, which was lunch and a long talk while sitting on the dock at a park. Relatively uneventful and not particularly romantical, at the end of it I was expecting a “thanks” and a handshake. He gave me a hug and asked if we could see each other the next weekend.

When you met him, did you have any idea that you would marry him?
After our first date, I really didn’t think we’d end up as anything more than a few dates. I didn’t think he liked me as much as I liked him and I thought his acceptance of our initial date was just a courtesy to me. Turns out he liked my combat boots, etc. etc. But I had started a residential high school program 2 hours away from where he was and we would only see each other on weekends.

This was before e-mail and cell phones, so things progressed pretty slowly and we were together for five or six months before it occurred to me that I’d really like to date him forever, if that were possible.

On some level, you essentially ‘grew up’ along side your husband. What have been the challenges that accompany that? The benefits?
I know rationally that I’ve matured since 16 and that so has he, but the honesty and loyalty we started with never got lost and I think that is a major factor in why we are happy today. Our major challenges are the ones that every couple has, I think. That is to say, the big decisions about family, how to spend money, and where we want to live or what we want to be when we grow up. We are very luckily in agreement on nearly all of those things now, but we’ve had the big discussions about them over the years. That’s not always easy, but it’s worth it.

To me, the greatest benefit of having this partner for so many years is just that: we have so many years behind us, we have each other’s families and we are each other’s family. We are very fortunate to have chosen each other and helped each other through respective hard times: career changes, existential crises, general malaise, college, real estate purchases and so many other really, really awesome things. I cannot believe I’ve spent almost half my life and get to share these great memories with someone so close to me, who means so much and who wants me to succeed when I feel like it’s impossible.

When did you two move in together? When did you get engaged/married?
When I graduated from high school, I moved in next door to him. We had matching studios in buildings next to each other on the same street. Eventually we decided to attend the same school out of state, lived separately on campus at a new school where we only knew each other. I did not like the school and missed my family and decided to pursue my education as a priority, I moved to a school 1,000 miles away for a year. We didn’t ever decide to break up during this time and talked every day. During my two semesters away we decided that yes, we really liked each other, we didn’t like anybody else. We were officially engaged.

Five years into our relationship, I moved back the 1,000 miles away from our friends and family, we lived together full time for the first time. I was 21. The time we were apart was a good time for us to evaluate our relationship, and we decided together to go for it.

It was good to be engaged, and ‘serious’ about each other, but as it turned out living together made us perfectly happy and getting married wasn’t a priority. We had different ideas about our wedding and it was never worth arguing about, so we never did. A few years after we bought our first house, he said to me, “Should we get married?” and I said, “Sure, when?” Three months after that, we had a tiny civil ceremony a dinner party with forty of our closest family members and friends.

Nine years and some months after our first date we were officially married… we acquired legal rights to each other’s life insurances, but I kept my last name and nothing much else has changed.

I would say that every part of our life together has naturally progressed and we’ve never really forced anything on each other. We have succeeded by way of compromise, trial and error, forgiveness, honesty, hugs and respect. Also, sometimes humor because there was no other option.

Did your friends/family ever encourage you to date other people? Did anyone ever express concern that you were “getting too serious, too soon?”
I don’t remember anyone ever directly or specifically telling me to or suggesting that I date other people, and I don’t think anyone ever said we were too serious, too soon. This surely happened, and it was probably from my parents. They were not big fans of their teenage daughter having sleep overs at their house (weird). His mom asked us to sleep in separate beds at their house until I was in my 20’s, because of her religious beliefs and we (usually) always tried to oblige and be respectful.

Do you think you missed anything by not dating heaps of people?
My instinct is that I didn’t miss out on much of consequence. I think I missed out on heartbreak, and losing relationships with the family members of people I could have dated and then broken up with. From friends who dated a lot or are still dating, I seem to hear a lot of stories about how things just don’t work and how this and that is annoying or how they really like or love someone, but something fundamental is missing. I might never have the “OMGOMGOMG FIRST KISS” insanity again, but I’ve got something I think a lot of people don’t have. It makes me really thankful and probably also makes me seem really annoying because I have no frame of reference for dating as an adult.

How do you maintain chemistry after being with someone for 14 years?
Is it lame that I keep siting “Luck” as a thing? Being a couple who loves each other isn’t easy and doesn’t come on purely by luck, but the fact that we are both stubborn to keep pushing day in and day out seems lucky.

In large part, I think our chemistry is natural. And I’ve never had the tumultuous, terrible, all encompassing, “I love you so much I want to puke” feeling with Chad that I had experienced with other people in very short-lived teenage crushes or loves. Being together is generally calming, easy-going and feels like stable ground.

Our *ahem* personal life, is just something we’re committed to, and has it’s ups and downs.. The physical chemistry in our relationship is just like any other aspect of a good relationship, it won’t always be easy or instant, but working on it together yields a greater benefit all around. And that having a very long term partner feels more amazing than any first kiss I could imagine.

The vast, vast majority of relationships that begin at 16 do not end in marriage – despite what we may think when we’re 16. What advice would you give to someone who’s interested in a long-term relationship with someone they started dating while they were young?
I believe you can’t help who you love and that sometimes it might work out despite the odds. Sometimes societal pressures might get the best of you when you are young and in love. But if you have a healthy, respectful, honest love with someone and then you should give it all you have.

Then maybe in 15 years you’ll be where my husband and I are now. People might not understand it and they might tell you that you would benefit from trying on other relationships, or they might treat you like you are naive. I would be the person inclined to remind you that some of the best things are born of what seems impossibly difficult and stupid by modern standards and then I would say something about homemade apple pie or renaissance painting and that would conclude the story.

Did any of you marry your high school sweetheart?  Did you have a high school sweetheart?  My high school sweetheart was a golden boy who looked a bit like Christian Bale!

10 Comments

nova

So so so glad I didn't marry my high school boyfriend(s) … wow. I went through a real drug-addict-loser phase, ha.

I love stories like this though, sometimes people just find the right person early in their lives. Thanks for sharing!

Reply
Charlotte

I married my highschool sweetheart this summer. We've been together for almost 10 years and engaged for 6 because we also wanted to get married when the time was right (and we were independent of our parents) but still make a real commitment. It's work, but it's work I love. My thought after two weeks was "Oh noooo! Why did I have to meet this great guy so early, now we have the rest of our lives to make it work, I don't want to screw this one up"

Reply
lizzle

'Did your friends/family ever encourage you to date other people? Did anyone ever express concern that you were "getting too serious, too soon?"'

Ha! When my grandmother met my boyfriend at a family Christmas, her reaction was to tell us we were 'far too serious' so we escaped the party and told my mother we were going upstairs to 'be serious'. It's still a standing joke.
One of my mother's bosses (a Catholic priest and relationship counsellor) told her that he thought I should 'shop around' =P

We're still together though, 6 years after meeting at 18!

Reply
Miss Boo

I married my just-out-of-high-school sweetheart two weeks ago! We met while I was writing my final exams and have been virtually inseparable since. A lot of people – mainly his family, weirdly – encouraged me to keep my options open, but I knew I'd hit the jackpot, and, despite the rough roads, we've never looked back. Yay!

Reply
Claudia Nieto

I'm not "married", but I've been with my high school sweetheart for 18 years! We've grown together and love and respect each other, which I think is the basis of our relationship. After 2 wonderful kids and moves, we still love each other very much. He's my best friend and soul mate. We were kids when we got together and we've become mature adults together. Love is what you make of it. We are friends, lovers and partners in all we do, from raising our kids to buying groceries. My life would feel empty without him and I know he feels the same. And like the author said, Luck, I think had a lot to do with us being together. When you find someone who loves you as much (if not more) than you do, then hold on tight to them, because it doesn't happen often. I love Noah and I know we will grow old together. I would not change anything about our relationship.

Reply
Shannon

I married my high school sweetheart and we'll be married for 5 years in June. We dated for a year in H.S., broke up for a few months because we felt we "should" upon graduation, and then got back together at a Thanksgiving break. After a four year long distance relationship through college and a one-year engagement, we got married, after which I promptly "dragged" him off to England so I could attend graduate school.

Just like Darcie, I feel that we've always had that honesty and loyalty to one another that mature couples have. To quote my mom at the very beginning, "You've never looked so comfortable talking to someone." I can't say that I've ever felt that "crazy crush" feeling, but I know that what I have is so much deeper and better.

Reply
Amanda

Love this post. Very charming.

In 2008, I married the person I fell head over heels for at age 16 (in '91). It didn't work out at the time and we lost touch for a number of years but, now that we're finally together, I feel very lucky. I've got someone who still gives me teenage girl stomach flutters but also helps me care for my aging grandparents- the high of the still-present Squee Factor + the emotional growth and strength of our adult relationship = better than my 16 yr old self could have ever imagined.

Reply
Anonymous

I am 17 and just graduated highschool my boyfriend and i are celebrating our anniversary in two days and should be engaged within the month. this article meant a lot to me because so many people arent supportive of us getting engaged but we truly feel lucky to have found each other and there is no way we could let what we have be anything less than the rest of our lives. we talk about absolutely everything no matter how difficult and have more loyalty and respect in our relationship than i have ever seen in a relationship and this just reassured me (not that i need reassurance:p ) that we can do it and spend the rest of our lives happy because we have found something so special and will always be 100% invested in each other. thank you

Reply
Anonymous

I hope it works out for my high school Sweetheart and I.. we dated for just about 3 years but recently broke up because we're going to different universities (im 20 shes 18). Im transferring to a local uni and shes graduating HS and going to a uni several hours away or maybe even one half way across the country. She broke up with me before she got her acceptance letters so I might never know where shes headed to. She told me she loved me, and she couldn't picture herself with anyone else but me. She said that part of her feels like we might be part of eachother's lives one day and we would cross paths in a meaningful way. She wanted to break up now so she had time to heal from the pain while she still had friends and family and she wanted to learn to be independent and learn to solve problems on her own because we've been together so long that she doesnt know if she has what it takes to face problems on her own. At the end of the day, she told me that we should stay friends and attend each others graduation in a few months.

Despite how hurt I was, I had to respect her decision. It really hurts that I might never move on because she told me that she had a feeling that we were going to cross paths again… now im always going to have hope and shes always going to be in the back in my mind even when im trying to desperately move on from this.. Hope is all im left with.

Reply
Anonymous

My boyfriend and I started dating when he was 14 and I was 15. We are both in our 20s now and still very much in love. we are going to get married just when we can both be independent financially. I 100% believe that there is not a single person out there that is better for me than he is. We went through high school together and attended different colleges with very different majors together and the fact that we are still going strong tells us that our love is and always was real. We both live at home so we can save up for our life together as soon as we can. we are technically engaged but no one really knows it yet and will not know until we have the money to start our lives together. we came up with a plan and a bank account for our wedding fund. yes we are still young but what difference does it make? we love each other and make each other happy, we talk about our future and future kids all the time. my family loves him and his family loves me.
love is what counts not at what age you met/started dating

Reply

Leave a comment