Marrying Your Childhood Sweetheart

A friend of mine lost his wife recently. They had started dating while still in high school and had married when just 20 years old. She was 64 when she passed on and, although he still seems driven by the passion that he has always brought to his work, he also seems a bit lost without her steadying hand on his shoulder.

Happy Ending But Not All The Time…

According to one study, at least, if you met your spouse in high school, college, or grad school, you are 41 percent less likely to later divorce.

As romantic as it may sound, though, marrying your childhood sweetheart may not have the “happy ending” everyone imagines. Was my friend the exception these days? Maybe so. Sensible couples marrying at an older age may have the answer for a more lasting union. These days, the divorce rate of those who marry young is much higher than it is for those who wait until they are older. If you marry before the age of 18, 48 percent of you are likely to divorce within 10 years, compared to 25 percent of those who wait to marry until they are at least 25 years old. 60 percent of couples who marry between the ages of 20 and 25 will terminate their relationships in divorce.

Research by Bowling Green State University tells us that the divorce rate among people 50 and older has doubled in the past 20 years. Why is that? Whether the fight is about money, education, or merely growing in different directions, divorce among those who marry young is on the rise.

Young and Green

Still, I wonder if it isn’t more about how our culture has changed since “the good ol’ days.” Years ago, you grew up in the same town you were born in, you knew everyone you went to school with and who became your neighbors, and you spent your entire life there. Nowadays, we change jobs frequently, we relocate every few years, we travel the globe, and we meet new people all the time, next door, at the new job, and on the airplanes we fly everywhere. And the old cliché, “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” is still true. The new people we meet are always so much more exciting than the “college sweetheart” we married.

So is it really about age at all? Or is it that we have so much more time after we marry young to have those temptations thrown at us?

According to this Business Insider article, there are a couple reasons. One is that more people are living together. It is not taboo anymore for couples to live together before they decide to marry. Second, people also live alone more and for longer periods. This is because more people go to college and particularly, women are choosing careers that require longer education. Following up with this, there are fewer “shotgun” marriages. Because it is more acceptable to have children outside of marriage and to use birth control, it is less likely that a pregnancy will result in a marriage. Additionally, people have smaller families; on average, in the United States, women have fewer than two kids.

We Can Help

There are many factors that result in this trend, and we have worked with clients who are in different situations and have various experiences. If you need help deciding whether to restructure your family, or, if so, how, visit us at Open Palm Law or email me at We are here for you, and for your family, during whatever change your family is going through! Let us help you find the light at the end of your tunnel.

Learn more about collaborative divorce. Follow Open Palm Law.

Need advice now? Contact Joryn!

About this week’s author, Joryn Jenkins.

Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, two of which she served as a professor of law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen Award, an honor bestowed in the United States Supreme Court upon those who have provided exceptional leadership in the American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.

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