Smart Sweethearts

HGAP teacher marries longtime love

Smart Sweethearts

Grace Kirkley, Lifestyle Editor

In the age of Tinder and hookup culture, young love is often seen as nothing more than that: a juvenile fantasy. Feelings change and navigating a future with someone is difficult when in the process of acquiring an education. The number of high school sweetheart marriages has lowered by 75% since the 1940s. On the rare occasion that high school sweethearts do get married, the risk of divorce goes up. With these hapless statistics, the odds don’t appear to be in favor of these couples. However, in the few 2% of marriages that defy all odds and progress successfully, this isn’t true. In the case of Mrs. Kim Zabadal, AP Human Geography teacher and high school sweetheart, achieving such status was a hard one, but worth it.
“He was in football and I was in sports medicine, and we were out on the football field and all the guys would always say thank you and then some derogatory comment after,” Zabadal said. “He would say thank you genuinely because he was appreciative of people being out there and providing water, and I thought that part of his personality was attractive.”

The couple has been together since her sophomore year of high school, in this very school district, at Jersey Village High School. They graduated from Texas A&M together and got married spring of 2021. Mrs. Zabadal accredits their relationship success to the importance of friendship above all else.

 

“Make sure that your partner is your best friend, but not your only friend,” Zabadal said. ”Throughout the 8.5 years Kyle and I have been together, we have created separate friends and maintained independence in our ways of thinking. Allowing your partner to bloom on their own will make it so they do not regret any step of the way.”
When entering a new relationship, it is easy to get caught up in the “honeymoon phase”. This period usually calls for a euphoric state, excessive PDA (Public Displays of Affection), and in some cases, cutting off friends. Though this usually comes to a close after a few months, the aftermath can be detrimental. Friends may not be waiting around upon exiting that lovey-dovey trance – in some cases, no one is left but said partner. It is important for both parties to prioritize their relationship while maintaining outside interests, hobbies, and friends.
“We kept our PDA to a minimum; many times people we met did not know that we were dating,” Zabadal said. “This fostered a relationship far deeper than the surface that has set the foundation for the rest of our lives. It allows us to find joy in the mundane – just being in the same room makes the time better, but only when the time is something special and cherished.”
True intimacy spans beyond the horizon of physical affection. Structuring a relationship off of emotional needs allows for a closer relationship to grow than any physical attribute could offer. The ultimate goal in any relationship is to be best friends, and the biggest part of friendship is communication.

“(One word to describe our relationship is) friendship, because I think that it’s more important to be friends than romantic partners. Not that romance isn’t important,” Zabadal said, “but at the end of the day when I go home from work, there’s no roses and chocolates on my bed every day; there’s someone that I have to hang out with, that I have to make decisions with. And we have to make important decisions.”

The emotional turmoil that follows a serious relationship can be overwhelming at any age, especially in a high school environment. In order for a relationship to last, emotional maturity is vital so that each partner can be realistic about their compatibility with the other person. This is where many long-term relationships go south- the “C” word.
College is a tough conversation to have, as some couples aren’t fit for long-distance, and find going to school together as the best. For some, this works, but oftentimes couples break up during their college years leaving the exes to attend the same school, often with feelings of resentment for having followed the other for no reason. Do what is best for more than a relationship- the rest will work itself out.
“Do what makes you guys happy in your relationship,” Zabadal said.