Jacob moved to a small town in Indiana the summer before 6th grade. When he started middle school he met the girl of his dreams. Leanne was a cheerleader with curly brown hair and the bluest eyes he had ever seen. She lived in his neighborhood about three streets away from him. One day, he walked her home from school and took the first leg of his life long journey with Leanne. By high school they were dating hot, heavy and exclusively and eventually ended up married. Every one who knew them knew they would always be together! Seemingly the world was right. Not too many years ago, marrying your high school sweetheart was almost an expected part of growing up. Today, less than 2% of all new marriages are a result of a high school relationship?
OF the people that do marry their high school sweethearts only a whopping 19% actually make it to college and of that 19%; less than 2% actually finish. So is it a good idea to fall in love early in life and choose to spend your life together? For many parents of teens their biggest fear is their child becoming a parent too young followed by them marrying too young? What is interesting is that although the average age of first marriage is older by 17 years than it was just a few decades ago, the divorce rates for these marriages are close to half; whereas decades ago divorce was a random undertaking. With figures like those it almost seems that marrying a high school sweetheart may be one way to allow yourself the best chance of getting and staying married! It stands to reason that when it comes to marriage, much more than our age of commitment has changed; our attitude has as well!
So what exactly has changed in 40+ years? If you asked a general audience there are fewer people who take a vow and understand the explicit principle of that vow. Marriage today is often viewed as a take it or leave it situation and so many folks will immediately seek a divorce at the first sign of trouble. Obviously, this has nothing to do with them getting married too young; because by and large these divorces are occurring between middle aged grown-ups! Years ago in cases of infidelity or strife, couples took a stand and committed to the promises that they made to one another whether they liked it or not; and felt like they did not have a choice in the matter. Today’s couples remain flagrantly aware that they are always afforded the opportunity to leave one another and take the vows and commitments as nothing more than an ultimatum. If you behave, I will stay- but if you don’t, I’m outta here!
It is difficult to set a precedent of what marriage means when in the back of your mind there is always an opt out. It is like leasing a car so that when you tire of it you can just trade it in every few years and get a newer version. This way you aren’t committed to the car company, the dealership and most of the time don’t care about dropping ashes on the interior or bumping into a shopping cart in order to get a good parking spot! Does this same mentality have anything to do with the rapid increase in reported divorces each year? Marrying your high school sweetheart can be assimilated to having a classic antique car tucked way in the garage. You keep it covered during rain and storms and only drive it when the sun is shining. As soon as you get back home; you are out there polishing off the dust and refinishing it to its original shine! What if we treated our marriages with that same passion, love, exuberance and respect? Perhaps the story of marital success would be different!
Obviously, parents want their children to live a full life that affords them all of the opportunity to excel, grow, learn and flourish! It is only normal to want more for their children than what they had for themselves. Parents of high school kids polled in a recent survey would seemingly go to excessive means in order to get their children to wait to get married. Usually, the parents win out and the children go to college, get successful jobs, branch out from their original home towns and become independent, successful people who end up marrying someone else. Maybe someone from college or a co-worker! And yet down the road these couples have a higher chance of getting married than the pre-generations before who found simplicity of love, locale and marriage!
Does opportunity make us selfish? Does seeing the world make us impossible to please? Does dating various people for endless years to find the one leave us ultra picky and obsessive to the point that we cant coexist with another. After all, we don’t have to. For $350 we can get a divorce in les than a month (especially if there are no kids involved). There is no intention to talk someone in to allowing their 17 year old to marry! But there is reason to pause and think about how our lives would have been had we ended up marrying our high school sweetheart. Did the search for something better, the latest and greatest new car force us to lose the 1965 Corvette in mint condition?
Just yesterday Jacob and Leanne took off the blue nylon cover on their 1947 Ford! They had the seats refurbished and the engine rebuilt years and years ago. This is the same car they sat in the day they kissed for the first time and when Leanne had her first child, Jacob drove her to his mothers house so she could deliver with the help of other women. Yesterday, they drove it 73 miles to their daughter’s house to celebrate their granddaughter’s birthday together. Have they had hard times? Yes! Have they been unhappy at times? Yes! Did they ever wish they didn’t marry each other? Yes! But they never knew they could just leave so they did what people who make promises, take vows and believe in commitment do; they made it work and kept changing the tires so to speak until all ran smooth. Marrying their high school sweetheart worked out well for them! Most importantly, Jacob and Leanne are still in love and have found almost everything they needed for them to live a happy, fulfilling life in the eyes and arms of each other! When that wasn’t enough, they simply got in their car and drove doing everything they could to keep it running so they wouldn’t have to buy another!