Married in High School –
My teenage daughter, who was married in high school, has now been married for six months (actually about 6 1/2 months at this point because I’m way behind on this post). In my last post about the couple, I tricked you (not intentionally, I meant to get there) into thinking you would get some really profound, further explanation about their wish to marry at such a young age. However, when questioned, all my daughter could come up with was that she just “really likes him.” Since I left you hanging on that cliff, I do think it’s about time we delved further into spiritual discernment, today’s dating culture, and the really hysterical comments one school official had to offer.
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If you haven’t read the previous posts on this marriage, you probably need to go back and read My Daughter Was Married in High School and Today Would Have Been My Daughter’s Wedding Day first. You need to have the background information to understand any of this post. Sorry, it’s a bit complicated. And yet, at the same time, it’s so very simple. They just really like each other.
Celebrating Six Months
The newlyweds recently went out to celebrate their Six Month Anniversary. My brother made sure to point out on their Facebook post that an anniversary, by definition, is something that happens once a year, so you really can’t have a Six Month Anniversary. I had to tell him to leave them alone, of course. By Facebook comment, of course! He’s always believed I was bossy to him, so I see no reason to stop that dynamic in the relationship now. The couple used to celebrate their “anniversary” every month when they were dating, so toning that down to six months is a big step for them. Besides, they might as well enjoy their fancy night at the Cheesecake Factory now. Eventually, when there are kids, they’ll likely be running through the Wendy’s drive-thru. My brother just wanted to ruin all their fun! I’m just kidding. He was just messing with his niece.
While I know my brother was just messing with them about the celebration of their relationship, there have been lots of people, both adults and kids, who have continually wanted them to tone it down a notch, and they were not joking when they gave them a hard time.
A Deliberate Road to Marriage
These two have been on the road to marriage from the day they met. I’m really not exaggerating. They just were. For some reason that has bothered some people, and I’m not quite sure why it was so offensive to so many people who had no stake in it.
First let me say, no one really set out with a plan for them to get married in high school. It’s not exactly something couples do very often today. It was just something that organically developed over time, and by the point that we were planning the wedding, it seemed like the most normal, natural, and sensible occurrence in the world.
In many ways, I believe the naysayers were actually the ones who caused this couple to get married in high school. They were at least the ones who made it logistically possible, and once it was logistically possible, it started to seem like a perfectly reasonable action.
A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
There’s a well-known phenomenon in education called a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s one of the first concepts they teach you in any educational degree programs. Basically, students will perform up or down to the level of the teacher’s belief in each individual’s abilities. If they give a teacher a sheet of paper that lists students’ IQ scores and previous grades but switch the order of the scores, the students the teacher beliefs have lower IQ’s will perform to a lower level in that classroom, and the students the teacher believes have higher IQ’s will perform to a higher level in the classroom, even when the scores have been falsified. What everyone around believes and speaks becomes the reality. A rowdy child who is constantly told, “You’re going to end up in jail someday!” every time he misbehaves, usually fulfills that expectation, while a rowdy child who is guided in a kind manner with words of encouragement and told he will eventually grow up and mature, really will eventually mature. A self-fulfilling prophecy is a powerful creator of reality.
From the beginning, people began referring to the couple as “married.” It was mostly young people using it in a derogatory way because apparently “married” is the absolute worst thing you can be, right? You really have to wonder about the kind of marriages these people are seeing in their own homes, don’t you? If they think marriage is so horrible and something a person should avoid as long as possible, what kind of example of marriage must the be seeing? Why is marriage a dirty word today? It honestly wasn’t that many generations ago that it would have been quite normal for 16-year-olds to be thinking more about their future and looking for a potential spouse.
Today’s Dating Culture
That’s apparently not the way dating is supposed to work today in the minds of the world. These two took a lot of criticism for their very serious approach to dating. Nobody bats an eye at teenagers indiscriminately hooking up with one person after another. Nobody has a problem with serial dating that leaves a trail of broken hearts and creates baggage most people will carry with them their entire lives. But wow, do not tell people you are dating with the intent to marry your significant other because that is some kind of pop culture sacrilege today.
I totally get the world not understanding a couple who wants to date very intentionally, working to build a future life together, and making educational and career decisions based on that goal. I get that the way of the world is just doing whatever seems fun in the moment with no regard for the future or whom you hurt in the process. I do not understand when Christians also believe young people should just be “having fun.” There are absolutely no Biblical grounds for that mindset. I should note that everyone close to the couple and everyone in both our families’ churches was perfectly supportive. It was only people in the wider community, some Christians and some not, who hurled negativity at every turn.
I say none of this in bitterness. I’m mostly just baffled by it. It doesn’t even matter what any of those people say or think. I know we are in the world, but “not of the world” (John 17), and we have to expect religious persecution on this earth. This couple actually walked through the religious persecution beautifully together. We’re only even discussing it here because I’m trying to explain how the very people who were so against this teenage couple getting married right after high school were the ones who actually made it possible for them to get married in high school. So, to all the naysayers, the lovely couple would like to thank you for all your help!
We’ve already established, this was a couple who had marriage as their goal from day one. Even they did not originally set out to get married in high school though. They were originally just trying to line up their academic and career plans to allow them to get married at the first feasible moment. They knew where they were headed in life, and they were willing to work toward that future. He was a grade behind her in school. He was actually old enough to be in her grade, but his birthday was right around the cutoff. He is a brilliant student and by the time they met was extremely ready for college-level work (probably even before that in junior high actually because his reading level is off the charts).
When they started dating, my daughter was taking morning classes on campus at a local college and then going back to her high school in the afternoon. She was on track to graduate high school with almost a year of college credit under her belt. He thought this sounded like a good idea for him too because it put them both in a better position to finish their education, make more money at an earlier time, and be ready to build/buy a house earlier. These are all worthy goals. Isn’t responsible behavior out of teens what we should desire?
Planning for the Future Together
He asked his high school about taking college classes in the mornings during his junior year. He was told colleges don’t allow that. He tried to explain that his girlfriend was already doing it, so he knew it was allowed by this college, but he was not taken seriously. By the way, information about dual credit enrollment for high school students is right on the website of most colleges. Shout out to my daughter’s awesome guidance counselor who was willing to take care of all the paperwork she needed to enroll in dual credit classes as a junior! We love you, SA!
Once his request to enroll in college classes was denied, he decided to request Early Graduation. Early Graduation was something he had considered from the start of his high school career because he knew he was capable of more challenging and relevant coursework. It wasn’t just some idea that popped in his head after meeting my daughter, as many seem to assume.
Early Graduation is allowed in our state. The state actually encourages it with a sizable Early Graduation Scholarship. Unfortunately, the school he was attending was the only school around that does not allow it. Well actually, he was told they would allow it if he had a baby, so they would allow it as a reward for teen pregnancy but not for a student who just wanted to get ahead on his career path. Originally, all the parental figures were adamant that if he was going to graduate early, it had to be from his own school.
However, once word got out that he wanted to graduate early, his situation in his own district became unbearable. He couldn’t go to class without fear of being called out by adults making comments about his desire to marry my daughter. I won’t go into the details of what was said. It’s not something any student should have to endure. It’s bad enough that guys give other guys a hard time. It’s bad enough that lockerroom talk is rude and crude, and respectful young men have to be subjected to that “boys will be boys” environment. It’s an entirely new level of absurdity when adults get involved in that game. Again, no bitterness. It happened. It’s over. I just can’t explain how he ended up switching schools without sharing a bit of it. Trust me, this is the sanitized version.
An Unexpected Change in Educational Venues
Please understand that this wasn’t a case of all the parents involved thinking it was fine for a teenager to hop on over to another school to make it possible for their teenage kids to get married while still in high school. That was not even under consideration at the point where all of this was occurring. Once word got out that he had requested early graduation, and everyone was so convinced that he was doing it “marry his girlfriend” there was just no possible way for him to stay under the conditions he was facing. At that point, getting married was mostly just an eventual plan, and they were trying to get as much college credit as they could as early as possible to better their financial position later.
At that point, none of us thought they would be getting married in high school. They had been taking the teen version of the Dave Ramsey course together with their youth group. This course teaches the same principles as the adult version – Financial Peace University. They were thinking seriously about the decisions they needed to make to reach their financial goals. It was the concepts they learned in the Dave Ramsey course that drove the request to take college courses and then the request for Early Graduation.
I believe, getting married in high school was largely facilitated and put into their heads by all the people who were so outraged at his request to graduate early and continually told him he was just doing it to get married. They were the people who planted the idea into the brains of the couple! It worked out really nicely for them, however.
A Harsh Reaction
I do need to cover one specific comment that was made about the future-groom because it’s too hysterical not to share, and it’s apparently indicative of today’s dating culture. I would not share it if it were just he-said/she-said. It’s a matter of public record because it was a part of the sworn testimony in a state athletic eligibility hearing. It was confirmed by the sworn testimony of two different eyewitnesses – one who was cross-examined on the stand and one who sent a notarized written statement – who are employees in two different schools. One school official in a room full of other school officials at a joint meeting of a variety of schools said of my now son-in-law, “He’s weird and creepy, and he just can’t wait to graduate and marry his girlfriend and get her pregnant.” I know people often say they are LOL-ing as a hyperbole. When I read that the first time, I literally did laugh out loud.
He’s “weird and creepy” because he knew his desired career pathway and wanted to get started on that sooner rather than later? He’s “weird and creepy” because his religious beliefs line up more with working toward a strong future with one woman? I understand that this is unusual today where it’s more “normal” for teenage boys to endlessly string a girl along as someone they are “talking too” with no real commitment as they wait around on a potential better offer, but “weird and creepy,” really? Has our society sunk so low that a man who would have been considered an ideal suitor in the days of our grandparents is now so out-of-the-norm that he’s considered controversial? If that is the case, I only pray each of my younger daughters can find a man equally “weird and creepy.”
I’m really not sure how we are supposed to take that comment. I should probably be outraged, but I have a hard time seeing it as anything but just super hilarious. It doesn’t make any logical sense. First of all, it was from the person who told him he could only get approved for Early Graduation if he had a baby. That was the only person involved trying to make a baby sound appealing to the couple. The couple certainly didn’t think a baby was a good idea. They were trying to line up their educational/career goals and earn as much college credit as possible while also getting him that Early Graduation Scholarship. A baby at 16/17 was not going to further their Dave Ramsey debt-free goals.
And really what teenage boy sets out with a plan to get his girlfriend pregnant? I realize teen pregnancy happens. It happens to all different kinds of kids because humans are humans, and sometimes the flesh is weak. But really, are there teenage boys who set out with a pregnancy as their actual goal? I’m under the impression that teen pregnancy isn’t generally the goal but is more of the byproduct of reckless behavior. Teen pregnancies happen because two people don’t think through the consequences of their actions, not because a sixteen-year-old sits down and draws up a longterm plan. I don’t even quite understand the comment.
Negative or Positive?
I know it was meant as a negative toward him, but should that really be considered a negative? If a young man wants to go through the extreme extra trouble to take an entire year’s worth of high school courses over the short eight weeks of summer following his sophomore year in order to have the credits to graduate an entire year early, then at some point marry my daughter, and then eventually have children with her, am I supposed to be concerned about that? Why is this 3, 4, maybe 5-year plan to get my daughter pregnant even controversial to anyone? I thought this was what used to be called “family planning.” I fail to see the negative of it.
If a teenage boy wants to get a teenage girl pregnant, I’m sure there are a lot easier channels than spending the whole summer at my kitchen table working on a year’s worth of virtual courses and then skipping straight into his senior year to take a homework-heavy, dual-credit, Early College program on a college campus, so he can get a nice start on his Batchelor’s and hopefully be able to finish his undergrad in three years. Doesn’t that seem like an awfully exhausting plan if his real goal was simply to “get his girlfriend pregnant?”
Even within the crude comment, this person states that he plans to marry her first. So where it the problem? It’s just so outrageous, I can’t even get angry about it. We’ve all had so many good laughs about that comment. I suppose we should congratulate my son-in-law on creating the most elaborate, homework-intensive, long-term, calculated, and deliberate plan to MARRY his girlfriend, so he can eventually get her pregnant. He should probably write a book someday outlining that whole multi-year pregnancy scheme. Maybe more young men should follow a similar path because we might have more stable families and healthier relationships if every young person put that much pre-planning into it.
To Be Continued . . . Again
It’s obvious that we are not going to get to the topic of spiritual discernment in this chapter. We didn’t even get to how great these two have always been together and how maturely they have handled all aspects of the relationship. In many ways, they seem to be better equipped for marriage than most middle-aged couples I know.
Long story short, he had no other choice but to transfer schools. They spent their senior year together in an Early College program through the school’s career co-op. Their classes were the regular college courses on the college campus. They both made A’s in them. The rest of their high school classes were virtual, so they were already functioning like college students. They had their afternoons free to work. Their college-like schedule put them in the position where they could feasibly get married. Instead of making them wait until August as they had originally planned, it became more practical for the happy couple to just get married the Saturday before Spring Break. If you are curious about the other factors that made an earlier wedding more urgent, you can go back and read My Daughter Was Married in High School about how they pretty much blindsided me when they moved it up by five months. (Spoiler Alert – No pregnancy involved).
All Things Work Together
Getting married in high school just happened for them. If you had lived it alongside them, it really wouldn’t seem odd to you. If you had spent long periods of time with them over the course of their relationship, you would only be thinking these two are completely made for each other. You wouldn’t be thinking they are too young because they have proven themselves mature beyond their years on so many occasions. In the midst of every encroachment from others, they simply walked forward together until they were able to convince everyone walking down the aisle was the most natural event in the world for the two of them.
(Disclaimer: I’m supposed to add a disclaimer about them being mature in their relationship but not mature in all ways. Apparently, they don’t want to be misleading. As I was reading the post to them for input and approval, at the exact moment I got to this paragraph about their maturity, he was wearing crazy Hawaiian shorts with a girly headband of hers holding his bangs so they were spiked while playing Jingle Bells repeatedly on a deer grunt.)
They happily celebrated six months of marriage by going out to the Cheesecake Factory (because they had a gift card). They also purchased a camper a few days later. They’re working together to remodel/redecorate it. It’s in really great shape already, but they’re customizing it to fit their obsession with all things American. They want to travel through several states during their summers through college. You are welcome to follow the Merican Camper Adventures here and on our YouTube Channel. Here’s the video Sneak Peek of their Dutchmen Lite 26QB.
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