Marshfield students engaged at a young age

By Lucia Vaughan | Artist

I do.

These two simple words, promising everlasting commitment in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, and for better or worse, seem eons away for most high school students. But for four Marshfield couples, this promise is in the very near future.

The relationships of seniors Tomas Edwards and Whitney Smith, senior Jennifer Dossiere and Marshfield graduate Dillon Haggard, seniors Katrina Burns and Jason Svilan, and junior TaLisa Heward and Maslow GED student Cisco Hidde are not your typical high school romances. Edwards and Smith had their daughter, Tha’laya, during their sophomore year of high school. Dossiere and Haggard have gone through a somewhat turbulent past and come out strong on the other side after three years. Burns and Svilan reunited last November after a four-year separation, a longevity almost unheard of for a teen couple. Heward and Hidde practice complete honesty. Each circumstance is different from the other, yet there is one common theme: They have made it through thick and thin.

“We’re really strong,” Smith said. “I don’t think there’s anything harder than what we’ve been through.”

Dossiere feels the same way.

“We’ve had issues in the past and stuff, but we’ve gotten through them and now we just feel that we can get through anything,” Dossiere said.

Yet there are many more challenges to come after their high school careers end. College, work, and finding a place in the “real world” pose great obstacles and harbingers of change and tension for each couple.

“[My greatest concern is] that things will change over time, and maybe we might realize that we want different things,” Dossiere said. “You never know.”

Edwards worries that any instability in his marriage will affect his daughter negatively.

“I know we won’t leave each other, but I would be nervous to have such a big fight to where it could come down to hurt Tha’laya,” Edwards said. “My parents got divorced, and it was really hard on me, really, really hard. I would hate to see Tha’laya go through something like that; it would just kill me as a father.”

These couples certainly have enough reason to be nervous about their future. According to Jeanne Warren Lindsay, author of “Teenage Couples: Caring, Change, and Commitment,” more than 60 percent of teenage marriages fail within five years. However, each couple has their own reasons for why their marriage will stand the test of time.

“Nobody can match up to any feeling I have toward Jen,” Haggard said. “It [our relationship] is like the missing puzzle piece; it just fits perfectly.”

Burns feels the same way.

“We talk about things that could happen that have happened to other people and what we would do in those kinds of situations. We’re planning for the long haul, so hopefully that will work. I don’t really doubt it,” Burns said.

Heward has similar sentiments.

“We don’t keep secrets from each other,” Heward said. “We talk about everything.”

Time will pass; changes will take place. The challenges of life will have to be faced somewhere down the road, sometimes sooner than later. However, these couples look ahead in confidence. To them, there is only one thing to be concerned about, one thing to center their future around, one thing to squash the doubts of naysayers who believe getting married at a young age is a dreadful mistake: love.

“You can’t stop love. You can’t question love. You can’t say who is or isn’t in love or who will or won’t fall in love,” Edwards said. “The only people that know love are the ones who have felt it or are feeling it now. You get something you can’t control; you really can’t say whether it’s wrong or right.”