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Q: Marriage statistics for high school sweethearts ( No Answer,   3 Comments )
Subject: Marriage statistics for high school sweethearts
Category: Relationships and Society > Relationships
Asked by: yreka-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 09 Jun 2003 23:52 PDT
Expires: 09 Jul 2003 23:52 PDT
Question ID: 215449
My almost-seventeen-year-old son and his girlfriend are just finishing
their sophomore year of high school, have been "in love" since meeting
2-1/2 years ago, and seem to have a genuinely caring relationship. 
They do not talk about getting married, but also seem determined to
not break up any time soon.

By the time I was his age, I was on boyfriend number 5, and the notion
of being "in love" with any of them was the farthest thing from my
mind, so I'm having a hard time relating to this situation.

We've discussed the typical U.S. teenage dating experience, and the
statistical improbability of someone marrying their first love,
especially when they met in 8th grade, and have even touched on the
difficulties that might befall a couple that married without playing
the field at least a little.  In fact, girlfriend's father married
*his* high school sweetheart at age 19, and they were divorced before
he turned 21.

While I simply "know" from experience that most people do not marry
their high school sweethearts, I also know of several notable and
successful exceptions, so I accept that there is indeed a possibility
that this girl will end up my daughter-in-law (she is delightful, so
my concern is not related to her in particular).  My instincts also
tell me that such a marriage would be likely to fail, given the huge
life changes that face them as
individuals in the next ten years, even if they marry after college.

My husband's instincts tell him that life events in the next two years
will likely lead to a break-up, or at least events in the first year
or two after high school, and so marriage between these two is not an
issue we need to think about.

So now I'm curious...

What statistics are available on the incidence of marriages in the
United States between high school sweethearts?  How about on the
eventual outcome of these marriages?  Do they fail at a higher rate
than marriages between
people who meet as adults, or are they more successful, or is there no

Thanks in advance for any statistics you can not
interested in anecdotal evidence as an answer, though it might be
entertaining in the comments section : )

Request for Question Clarification by juggler-ga on 10 Jun 2003 01:00 PDT
According to one web site, less than 2% of high school sweethearts end
up getting married and not divorcing.  However, the web site cites no
source for that statistic.

However, there are good statistics available on the relationship
between marital failure and the bride's age. Although it's a pretty
safe bet that many of the women who marry at ages 18, 19, 20, etc.,
are indeed marrying "high school sweethearts," some are undoubtedly
marrying men who were not their "high school sweethearts" per se.

Nonetheless, statistics on failure rates for "youthful marriage" would
seem to be directly relevant to your question and might be the closest
thing possible to an answer here. Would such information be acceptable
as an answer?

Clarification of Question by yreka-ga on 10 Jun 2003 07:27 PDT
Hmmmmm...I think the variable that interests me most about this
situation is number of relationships experienced before electing to
marry, not so much the age at marriage, even though, as you say, it's
likely that those marrying young are marrying their first love.

If these two do marry, I'd expect it to be after college (girlfriend
is academically ambitious), so I guess I'm really only interested in
the likelihood of a relationship that started in 8th grade lasting 8
years, and information on marriages between people who've had no other
serious relationships.

Thanks.  Yreka

Clarification of Question by yreka-ga on 10 Jun 2003 07:59 PDT
Further clarification:  I don't mean "information on marriages between
people who've had no other serious relationships"...I wouldn't say
that any of those relationships I had with boyfriends were "serious." 
I think what I mean is "no other relationships" period!

My son hasn't gone to a movie, party, walk in the park, dance, or
anything with anyone but this     .  That's what I'm trying to wrap my
mind around, and why I'd like to know if anyone has studied the
longevity of relationships begun in middle school, and/or longevity of
marriages between people who married their first boyfriend/girlfriend.

Thanks for the opportunity to think this through a little more!  I see
now that finding this specific information may be a long shot, but
appreciate your contribution so far.  Yreka
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Marriage statistics for high school sweethearts
From: pinkfreud-ga on 10 Jun 2003 01:52 PDT
Here's are a couple of tidbits of information:

"Young people in their teens are RARELY together as life partners.  It
does happen that people marry their first loves, but less than 25% of
the time in our current society vs. what happened like in the 40s and
50s when girls married right after high school graduation."

"In the article 'Choosing Mates-The American Way. by Martin King
Whyte, the author devotes a large portion of the article to providing
the reader with facts. Most of these facts deal with how dating has
changed and if it has changed statistically for the better or for the
worse in terms of marriage length. One of which toward the end of the
article says, 'Women who had married their first sweethearts were just
as likely to have enduring and satisfying marriages as women who had
married only after considering many alternatives.' This says that it
doesn't matter how much you dated; the only thing that matters is the
strength of the love."

"Most people do have very vivid recollections of their first loves,
says Carin Rubenstein, a psychologist who surveyed women on that topic
for Family Circle magazine. 'They have wonderful memories of their
first love,' she says. 'It's an intense, very powerful time to fall in
love for the first time.'

In fact, 25 percent of the women who responded to the survey said they
had married their first love."

As is often the case on the Web, many sites which quote statistics
give no source for those statistics. Once often-quoted figure cites
Harper's Index, but no date is given:

"Facts About Americans
 From Harper's Index...

 2 out of 5 have married their first love."
Subject: Re: Marriage statistics for high school sweethearts
From: mvguy-ga on 10 Jun 2003 06:43 PDT
I would also bet that those who marry because they "have to" (i.e.,
the female woman is pregnant) have a lower chance of a long marriage
than those who aren't under external pressure to marry. Unfortunately,
I can't back this up with reliable statistics.
Subject: Re: Marriage statistics for high school sweethearts
From: mvguy-ga on 10 Jun 2003 06:44 PDT
Oops. Make that "because the woman is pregnant." I haven't seen too
many non-female women lately. :)

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