I met my husband a few months after my sixteenth birthday. I was working at a sandwich shop and he was there to get lunch (sorry to disappoint, Nicholas Sparks). Ours was an instant connection, and a few months after our first “hello,” we became a constant in each other’s lives.
My husband was there when, in eleventh grade, I used to cut the legs of my jeans so they would hang over my shoes.
He was also there when I thought thick silver glitter, applied with hairspray and my finger, was a perfectly acceptable eye shadow. In return, I was there when he wore sleeveless button-up shirts with frayed armholes and those really cute leopard-print men’s bikini briefs.
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In short, we’ve seen it all. Now, nearly twenty years after our first kiss and fast approaching our eighteenth wedding anniversary, we’ve grown in ways I couldn’t have imagined as a doe-eyed teenager. Our relationship isn’t perfect, but it’s filled with laughter, history, and a commitment that only couples who fell in love in adolescence can understand.
Here’s why high school sweethearts grow up to be the best couples ever.
1. We know what every facial expression means.
Sometimes, we know each other’s facial expressions more than we know our own. It was my husband who informed me that when I’m upset, I chew the front-left side of my lower lip. I’m the one that clued him in to the fact that his nostrils flare whenever he fibs.
More than this, we’re able to communicate with each other with a mere look. Whether it’s “Get me the heck out of here” or “If this lady doesn’t shut up I’m going to say something we’ll both regret,” it doesn’t take words to convey our inner thoughts to one another.
2. We have a shared history.
There’s a powerful connection of shared memories, and high school sweethearts have them. My husband remembers when I ditched school and intercepted letters informing my parents of my absences. I remember his first taste of sushi and how he idolized Rocky Balboa.
Those small details may seem insignificant to some, but for us, they’re the stories that invoke laughter and cheeks flushed with embarrassment. We can look back at each other’s past and not have to describe it because we already know it.
3. We’ve made every important decision together.
When we first started dating, the biggest decision we had to make was where to spend our Friday nights. As the years and life experiences progressed, we faced the big things (marriage, pregnancies, raising a family, taxes, debt, losing a family member) together.
My husband and I figured out the hard stuff while standing next to one another and learned what worked, as well as what didn’t. While we may have battled our way through certain decisions, we’ve had the comfort of knowing we would never face the consequences alone.
4. We learned sex from each other.
Teenage sex was fun. Don’t get me wrong, it was also terrible, rabbit-style humping void of any true sentiment or depth. As our relationship grew and our love for one another increased, so did our capacity for lovemaking. We’ve explored our sensuality and our romantic selves together and built a solid history of what works and what doesn’t. New sex could never compare.
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5. We’ve watched each other grow and change.
When we met, my husband and I were very different people. We had small, unfettered minds that saw the world in black and white. Slowly, through life experiences, college degrees, and trips abroad, our minds grew, as did our understanding of life in general.
We’ve had the privilege of seeing each other transform into wiser, more conscientious salt-and-peppered adults who no longer base our opinions off episodes of Jerry Springer or “that thing my friend’s cousin told me.”
6. We’ve been together longer than we were with our parents.
There’s a weird moment when you realize that you’ve been in a relationship with your spouse longer than you lived with your parents. And somehow, that makes you feel invincible. My time spent with my husband has been filled with growth and firsts, much like my time spent as a child at home.
It makes us both feel safe, secure, and confident to have the same person by our side through the years, and that comfort has amazing cementing quality for our relationship.
7. We are each other’s bullsh*t detectors.
We know when the other person is lying or losing sight of themselves. Since we’ve been there through it all, it’s easy to call bullsh*t on the other and bring each other back to reality. No, sweetie, you weren’t prom king, and I was never a size two. Nice try, though.
8. We proved our families wrong.
My grandmother said to me, verbatim, “It’s not like you’re going to marry him,” after her first meeting with my husband. Granted, she’d walked in on us in a heavy make-out session in my room, but I was determined to prove her wrong.
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My husband’s mom didn’t have such high hopes for our relationship, either. But slowly, our families came to see how genuine our love was, and now our relationship has become the benchmark of what happy couples should strive for. It’s funny how things change with time. (Side note: I love being right.)
9. We had a partner when life was hard, and when things got easy again.
My husband and I have waded through some of the hardest times together, and at moments, nearly lost sight of what we meant to one another. Sometimes, we’ve been close to calling it quits on our marriage, but managed to find strength in our past, and through our love for one another, rebuilt our relationship again.
We’ve had the joy of being there for the best times, too, and those happier times are the proof that we can survive anything, together.
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Bryanna Salazar is a freelance writer and passionate human rights activist and cultural enthusiast. Follow her on Twitter.