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These High School Sweethearts Have Kept Their Love Alive For Nearly 15 years

Our First Year

High school is one of the best moments of your life. You're young, carefree, and the world is literally at your fingertips.


While some of us use this as a time for exploration on all things professional to romantic, others luck up early on and discover just what they want out of life pretty much before the "real world" hits. As for these highschool sweethearts, Dani and TJ Byerson, it didn't take long after being introduced to each other, for them to know they were meant to be together.

These two met at a random afternoon park outing with friends. While they were both there just as tag-alongs for the other people they were with, in reality, this initial meeting would be the beginning of the first and last romantic relationship they would ever know.

The second TJ laid eyes on his now wife, Dani, he knew he had to make a move. And he did just that! The two began their relationship that summer and have now been together for 14 years. From teenage love, to college, to now being parents to a beautiful baby girl, the Byersons show that true love knows no age limit, and finding your soulmate in high school is indeed possible.

While some may believe puppy love is just something you experience while you're young and not actually real, the Byersons prove otherwise, and show how their young love has grown throughout the years.

But I know you're wondering, after all these years how does one still keep the love alive right? After all, they are both each other's one and only romantic partner.. EVER! How did they do it? "Communication! We talk to each other about what it is we want both romantically and sexually. We explore all of our wants and needs, always," Dani shared.

These two have taken the power of their communication and love story to create their own podcast entitled The Lovers Quarrel Show where they get real about marriage, parenting, and everyday life. While they know their relationship is far from perfect, communication continues to keep their love thriving and they just want to help other couples get better at communicating and problem solving as well. It's what has led these high school sweethearts to build a life together throughout these 14 years, and their love journey is just getting started.

This is their journey.

The One

Dani: I knew he was the one by how dedicated and committed he was to seeing us go the distance. You don't meet young men who are convinced of who they want to spend their life with, with such conviction. He loved me and respected me and wanted to be with me.

"You don't meet young men who are convinced of who they want to spend their life with, with such conviction."

TJ: Everybody loving her, my friends, family, and myself. Dani is an amazing spirit. She is a great conversationalist, and she is intelligent enough to speak in any setting. But the defining moment was when I had the ring purchased and we had a big argument a few days before I was set to propose. That argument could've changed my mind to proposing but it didn't. That's when I knew that this was forever.

Lessons In Love

Dani: Marriage is not a job, but it is WORK. But in loving one another, I am always willing to dust myself off and get back to working at it. Because I love him, and he loves me.

TJ: Make sure you are friends first. Dani and I were friends. So our relationship was built on our friendship. Make sure you can be friends with the person you love and plan to marry.

Deepest Fears

Dani: My biggest fear walking into marriage was how would things change? We had been together so long but were also so young, and I wondered how things would be different (in both the good and bad sense). The fear of the unknown did linger a little. However, I let that fear go by understanding that TJ and I had faced so many unknowns before this and came out stronger and for the better as a couple. So I knew marriage would be no different.

TJ: I had no fears. She was the one, I was ready. I had the perfect woman and I wasn't letting her go. My only fear would've been to lose her.

"I had the perfect woman and I wasn't letting her go."

Building Together

Dani: Some of our early challenges were adjusting to living together, alone. All the years prior, we lived together we had roommates as well, so no "buffer" of sorts when he and I were on the outs. I also realized how "not handy" TJ was around the house. I'd like to think I'm more of a "Mrs. Fix It" than him. (laughs)

TJ: We lived together before we were married, but me being junky is probably her biggest pet peeve along with my shopping habit.

Learning Each Other's Love Language

Dani: I think it was enlightening to have evidence of the differences between TJ and I as far as what love language we speak. It put into words that we feel loved in very different ways, which is truly validating. But, it took time to understand each other's love language and how to convey that type of love to each other. So often, we express love in the way that we wish to receive it, and then end up disappointed at the lukewarm reception we get as a result. But, like with many things, TJ and I get better with time and understanding and conveying love in a language that each other would truly appreciate.

"So often, we express love in the way that we wish to receive it, and then end up disappointed at the lukewarm reception we get as a result."

TJ: It's work, just like marriage. It's not a job but it is work. So we learned and relearned and communicated through the process.

Common Goals

Dani: We want to be happy and provide for our family in the best possible ways we can. Our purpose is to enjoy life while also being in service to others as well. Our individual goals serve that common goal in that they include obtaining a quality education, remaining continuously hard-working, and community service oriented.

TJ: Being the best versions of ourselves, providing a great future for our daughter and future children. We are working hard in our profession, educational, and everything else to better ourselves.

The Power Of Prayer

Dani: [In relationships] when things are good, pray. When things get tough, pray even more.

TJ: [In relationships] when things get hard you pray, the harder it is you pray harder. You have to be willing to work, it's not something you can give up on.

For more on their love story be sure to follow them at @Daniwrote and @Byerson4 or on their joint account @loversquarrelshow. Also be sure to tune into The Lovers Quarrel Show, for all things love, marriage and everyday life.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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