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Divorce Stats: What Percentage of High School Marriages Last?

Michael Tierney
October 31, 2022

Romance can be an interesting journey, especially in our teenage years where hormones can wreak havoc on our decision-making and hormones. High school is when most teenagers begin forming their first romantic relationships and establish the basis of their interactions with romantic partners.

Relationships that were established in high school don't always last, and sometimes they end when we are ready to move on to the next stage of our lives. This natural progression from our teenage years to adult life is common and even expected by some, but it's not always how life plays out. Some relationships formed in high school have a much greater lifespan than expected at that stage. True love and happy, stable relationships can form from high school relationships.

In some circumstances, couples who were together in high school manage will ultimately get married. While marrying your high school sweetheart is rarer these days than meeting your spouse in adulthood, it does happen; unfortunately, regardless of when you met your spouse, over half of the marriages in the country end in divorce.

This statistic might be discouraging to those hoping to save their marriage, but the circumstances surrounding your union can impact these numbers. If you are among the demographic of those who married their high school partners, you might be wondering how likely your marriage is to last. This is a valid question and one that requires insight into national statistics.

How Long Do High School Relationships Last?

Before considering how long marriage to a high school boyfriend or girlfriend lasts, examining how long such relationships last while in the dating phase is prudent. High school relationships are generally short-lived due to the nature of the people involved. Our youth during high school leaves us vulnerable to baser emotions and volatility that are directly counter to sustaining a long-term commitment.

Dating as a high school student is a turbulent time as hormones rage, and our impulsivity is at an all-time high. There are exceptions, but on average, teenagers are not built for long-lasting commitments to a romantic partner.

According to research, about 63% of high school students have been on at least one date before their senior year. However, only ⅓ of students have a long-term boyfriend or girlfriend, while the rest only go on a few dates. The long-term relationships forged by high school students do not last long, though the teenagers' age impacts the pairing's longevity.

A High School Relationship

On average, high school relationships last:

  • 6 months for students aged 16.
  • 1 year for students aged 17 to 18.

Typically, these high school relationships help us develop our skills for maintaining healthy relationships with partners encountered as adults. Our early dating life gives us experience in compromise and conflict resolution with a significant other and some of the more subtle details of a committed relationship.

The reality is that high school partners are a way for us to test the waters of dating without finding ourselves in a lifelong commitment so early in our lives. As mentioned earlier, there are exceptions in which high school couples maintain their relationship after graduation. In some cases, this develops into marriage at some point after both parties turn 18 and are legally permitted to engage in a civil union such as marriage. The question is how long such high school romances can last when subjected to the obligations of marriage.

How Many High School Couples Get Married?

In the waning days of the 20th Century, marriage to one's high school partner was more common than it is now.

  • In 1980, almost 20% of teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 got married before beginning their college education.
  • In 1990, this trend began a downturn, with the average age of marriage for women being 24 and the average age for men being 26.
  • As of 2020, this statistic has changed again, with men usually getting married by age 31 and women by age 28.

Because of this downturn in early marriage statistics, it is less common for people to marry their high school sweethearts and more likely to meet a more compatible partner in their adult years.

Couple Getting Married

That said, this downturn has not eliminated teenage marriages though the numbers are significantly lower compared to 1980. The most recent reports show that only 2% of women and 6% of men get married in their teenage years. With such a small population of teenagers getting married early in life, very few statistics confirm how many people marry their high school partner.

Solution The current estimate of people marrying their boyfriend or girlfriend from high school is around 2%; a rarity in the modern era.

While fewer people are marrying their romantic partners from high school, being in a committed relationship at this point in life does increase the odds of getting married or cohabitating by age 25.

This downturn in early marriage has improved certain aspects of modern marriage, though the underlying issues that cause divorce remain a threat regardless of who you marry. When it comes to the ones who marry their high school partners, the question of how long such relationships last remains.

How Long Do High School Marriages Last?

Marrying your partner from high school is always risky since your relationship might not be as stable as you believed. The reality is that no teenager is emotionally equipped to commit themselves to a partner so profoundly. It requires a level of selflessness and capacity for compromise that no one has at that age. Despite that, information suggests that marriage to a high school partner might not be as doomed as the previous information suggests. Recent studies have shown that the odds of maintaining a marriage with a high school partner are higher than anticipated.

According to reports, marriages between 18-year-olds only have a 10% chance of a breakup after the first year of marriage. Unfortunately, this statistic changes for the worse the longer the relationship lasts.

Solution After 5 years of marriage, a high school couple's chance of divorce increases to 29%, meaning that the odds of a breakup increase by almost 4% yearly.

This means the longer your marriage to your high school partner lasts, the greater the statistical chances of the marriage ending in divorce.

A Lasting Marriage

These statistics are particularly troubling when compared to those for people who marry between the ages of 20 to 25. For this demographic, only 6% of couples divorce after a year of marriage and 17% after 5 years. This means the chances only increase by just over 3% every year for couples who met outside high school.

While this might seem like an odd trend, several factors impact the sustainability of a relationship cultivated in high school. While not every marriage built on a high school romance is doomed to fail, the things that affect most modern relationships can be just as detrimental to them. Unfortunately, there are also factors unique to marriage to your high school partner that you will need to consider.

What Affects Marriage to a High School Partner?

Marriage is complicated, with compromise and adaptation to your spouse's needs being mandatory for it to succeed. Unfortunately, some relationships face more issues than others that can contribute to their downfall and yield a breakup. When we date, especially in high school, a relationship ending does not have as big an impact on your life since you are free to pursue your life without obligation to your ex.

When we get married, a breakup leads to lengthy divorce proceedings and spousal support arrangements that can affect how we live our lives in the future. When the person we marry is our significant other from our days as high school students, the factors that impact our marriage's success are slightly different from normal. However, they are subject to the same issues that affect other marriages.

One of the most common issues affecting marriages to high school partners is life after high school causing a rift between the couple. After high school, it is normal for a student to pursue higher education via attendance at a university. Occasionally, high school couples will attempt to coordinate attendance at the same facility, but it is more common for both parties to end up at different schools. With the variety of educational facilities, most high school graduates attend school in other states or countries rather than staying close to home. This means a couple, even a married one, could end up at schools on the opposite side of the country from one another.

This has led to a surge in long-distance relationships that many attempt to make work while attending different schools. While admirable, long-distance relationships can end in failure due to the physical distance between the couple. Despite the handicap, between 30 and 40% of students date someone outside their geographical area. Unfortunately, long-distance relationships generate jealousy and mistrust between an otherwise strong couple. Surprisingly, despite the issues with long-distance, only 40% fail, with 60% leading to a successful relationship.

High School Students

Marrying your high school partner and then attending a different school compounds the risk of a failed long-distance relationship with the risks of a marriage to a high school partner. Aside from the issues associated with long-distance, the more common concerns of marriage still apply to a union between high school sweethearts.

Solution A conflict of faith is one of the main universal factors that impact marriages.

While religion is a minor issue for most people in modern relationships, it can still impact the divorce rate among married couples. Namely, the issue lies in couples who do not share a religion or when one party is pious and the other is not. This is not to say that your marriage is doomed to fail if you and your high school sweetheart do not share religious views, but there is an effect that needs to be considered.

Most statistics point to relationships where one or both parties lack religious affiliation and only have a 43% chance of lasting 20 years. While this statistic is not the worst in the world, religion is not something that is given proper thought during our high school years. Often, religious incompatibility does not factor into our decision of who to date while in high school since it is inconsequential to our experience.

Unfortunately, after graduating, it is possible to find renewed significance in your religious affiliation that conflicts with your high school partner's. If you are married when this potential conflict arises, breaking up could lead to a more significant falling out.

In addition to religion and distance, factors like race, identity, and living arrangements can impact the success of a marriage to a high school partner. While some couples can make it work, being aware of these factors and how they might affect you in adulthood can help you grasp the viability of such a union. If you are reading this article, you have likely already married your high school sweetheart and are looking for information.

Learn the Law

While ending a marriage is never ideal, it is a reality that must be accepted, given the current divorce statistics. This is not to say your marriage is destined to fail since there are resources that enable reconciliation in the face of major conflicts. If you married your high school sweetheart, these resources are not lost to you, and it is still possible to save your marriage. Unfortunately, divorce is still a concern for all modern marriages and one you must be aware of in the event your marriage is in rough waters. While divorce might not be the result of your marriage, learning what you can about it might benefit you.

Studying the Law

Divorce is an extremely complicated civil matter that can confuse those without legal training. The lack of information surrounding divorce once made it difficult for anyone to navigate without explanations from a lawyer. Nowadays, information about divorce is readily available to anyone in need and can help protect you from certain scenarios. Finding this information can help ensure that your divorce does not leave you worse than you were before. We realize this is an unpleasant situation and hope this article has provided some assistance.

If you're ever in need of any further information regarding divorce, we highly encourage you to browse our collection of articles. If you have any questions we haven't yet covered, be sure to leave a comment down below, and tell us what you want to know about.

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Written By:
Michael Tierney

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