Friends Since Eighth Grade, Married With a New Urgency

David Rhoades skipped a lot of school in the mid-2000s as a student at Sturgis Brown High School in Sturgis, S.D. Not much held his attention, besides a girl a year younger who was good at painting and drawing.

“Nikki and I had known each other since eighth grade, but in high school we really started talking,” said Mr. Rhoades, 29. By the time he dropped out in 2009, his senior year, he and Nikki, whose name is Nicole Weiss, were boyfriend and girlfriend. Little about their relationship has changed since then. “We have a shared sense of humor and we both like the same movies, the same music,” he said. “Once we were together, neither one of us ever wanted to be with anyone else.”

When Ms. Weiss graduated in 2010 and started college at Black Hills State University, Mr. Rhoades went, too, finding odd jobs in Spearfish, S.D., to pay the rent. When she quit college and moved to Rapid City, S.D., after a year because she wasn’t sure a degree would guarantee her a job as an art teacher, he was right beside her.

In 2016, after years of figuring out who they were separately and together — “I come from a military background and she comes from a flower child background, but we’re both super open-minded,” Mr. Rhoades said — they started talking about marriage. On March 5, 2017, during a getaway to a bed-and-breakfast in the Black Hills of South Dakota, he proposed. Ms. Weiss, 28, knew the day was coming but was still surprised. “I said, ‘Well, duh,’” she said. They left the Black Hills engaged.

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