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A Notre Dame love story

Tom Bounds | Friday, October 30, 2009

 In this column, “The Notre Dame They Know,” I will interview individuals who have been influenced by the University of Notre Dame.

I will seek to discover the unique role that Notre Dame has played in their life and vocational journey.

It is hoped that this column will inculcate a deeper, more honest and more profound love for Our Lady and Her University.

 

A cool autumn breeze rustles the yellowing leaves and blows the ebullient screams of children down an asphalt drive just north of campus. At the end of this road, a playground dotted with kids is surrounded by the brown brick apartments of University Village.

Turning right to building D and climbing two flights of stairs, a white door decorated with pictures of one of these tykes stands ajar.

Jacob Haley, every bit of four years old, grabs onto the doorknob and peers up through the opening. Inside, his mom Danielle, sporting a pink top and a big smile, is preparing dinner seven months pregnant. Kevin, her husband, a graduate student in the Theology Department, is helping get things ready around the house.

After a delicious dinner, and over the playful utterances and gestures of their son, Danielle and Kevin begin their story:

“Kevin and I both started here in 1999. We became good friends freshman year through folk choir.

“I fell in love right away. Kevin was discerning a call to the priesthood.”

The two quickly formed a deep emotional and spiritual bond.

“Friendship was a great blessing for us,” Danielle says, “but at the same time it warranted courage when I developed romantic feelings for him.” 

This deep friendship, until then possessing only a one-sided romantic interest, blossomed dramatically around Easter of 2002.

Kevin recalls, “All of a sudden … during one week, I started falling for her. Soon after … I fell in love with her and wanted to marry her.”

Reflecting on this great blessing, Kevin and Danielle express thankfulness that their relationship began as a friendship: “When we started dating romantically, it wasn’t dependent on those fuzzy feel-good moments. In times when we weren’t feeling especially romantic, our friendship carried us, and still does in our marriage.”

Married in November of 2004, Kevin and Danielle reflect back on the changes in their relationship through its many stages.

“The friendship and our faith has stayed the same, and increased,” Kevin observes.

Danielle comments, “Romance has changed in a lot of different ways … there is now the thrill of domesticity … we live together. We can make love. There is something to be said for whole companionship.”

On the joys and struggles of married life, Kevin and Danielle observe, “It’s a weathered romance. It’s cured with the challenge of being parents, and graduate student life, and the sacrifices each of us make, which can contribute to and can also be a challenge to romance.”

“Marriage is a constant self-sacrificing in joy, and in the self-sacrificing the joy is multiplied. You find that … when you see your sacrifices bringing joy to your spouse and your child, it encourages you to sacrifice more.”

Based on some of the unique aspects of their own lives, Danielle and Kevin are able to reflect on the value of purity and purity renewed in their relationship.

Danielle and Kevin explain, “Neither of us were virgins when we met. Both of us had had experiences in high school that were detrimental for us … these experiences stay with you, but there is healing. And in a good way they stay with you because they are resurrected. Whatever wounds that I’ve carried and then some have been soothed and healed by married love. 

“Because of those experiences we both had, it was imperative to both of us to protect our purity.

“We also shared an awareness of the profound treasure that God had given us in each other, and we desired to protect it.”

To those interested in forming a relationship, Danielle advises, “If you are a person of faith, going to Mass and interacting with people in religious environments provide good opportunities to meet someone.

“You should look for someone who takes time out of their day to go to Mass, confession, adoration … it says volumes of a person that the rhythm of their day is planned to make that important.

“Also, watch how they interact with others. Observe how they treat their parents and their siblings. They are their truest selves with those they have known most intimately.”

On physical attraction, Danielle comments, “That just has to be there … If there is no chemistry that’s not a natural relationship.”

For those in a relationship, Kevin recommends “faith, mutual respect and gentleness with one another.” Danielle adds, “It is important to provide that safe space for open communication — taking each other seriously, even if it might be a challenge.”

The marital union born out of a deep friendship has filled the Healy family with a palpable love.

Reflecting the beauty of their relationship, Jacob, balled up in the corner of the couch, whispers, “I love you, guys.”

“Why do you love us, Jacob?”

“Because you’re my best friends.”

 

Tom is senior in Morrissey Manor and can be contacted at tbounds@nd.edu

 Kevin, a Ph.D. student in Theology, and his wife Danielle, can be contacted at khaley1@nd.edu They recommend the book “A Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Vanauken for those discerning a vocation to the Married Life.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not

 necessarily those of The Observer.