Three young couples discuss the vocation of marriage

Seniors Merlot Fogarty and Madelyn Stout hosted three married couples for a discussion on the vocation to marriage. The “Called to Marriage Panel” took place on Wednesday, April 3 in Jenkins-Nanovic Hall.

The three couples were Gabi and Nathan Grow; Madeleine and Luke Foster; and Marlee and Michael Promisel. After each couple told a brief story of how they met, fell in love, and decided to get married, Fogarty fielded questions from the audience.

Although the three couples are at different stages in their marriages—the Fosters have been married for only three months and the Grows nine, while the Promisels have been married for almost seven years—much of the discussion focused on dating and discernment. 

Since all three couples dated long-distance, Fogarty began the question portion by asking for advice on how to navigate such a relationship. Madeleine Foster, who was long-distance with her husband until six months after their engagement, answered: “My advice is: Do not let it be a hindrance … It’s really hard to find somebody in this day and age that will align with what you think and how you feel about the world. That’s a commodity that is kind of irreplaceable. So, if you can find that person, I would urge you to do your best to be with them and don’t think too much about long distance.”

Luke Foster advised, “Continuing something you already have in place is one thing, but establishing the foundation when you only see each other, at best, a couple times a month, is really hard. So, in that case, you rely on proxies, other indicators that you have a common foundation, that you share common principles, things like common communities … Those things become more important when you don’t have lots and lots of face time.”

He concluded, “I’d say you can put up with almost any amount of [distance] for almost any length of time, as long as you have a plan to get out of it. It’s the lack of a plan that makes it deadly, because if one party loses hope, both parties are going to lose it.”

Marlee Promisel agreed with the Fosters, and she stressed the importance of finding things in common so as to truly grow in friendship while apart from one another. She said, “I think [Luke’s] practical advice of finding things in common, or activities you can do that aren’t just sitting and talking on the phone for hours is useful … We always tried to know when we were going to see each other again before we left so that there was always something to look forward to.”

Junior Liberty Hunsberger appreciated this part of the conversation, saying, “I think that the discussion of long distance was really helpful because I think a lot of people fear it.” But she noted the speakers’ emphasis “that it shouldn’t be fearful if this is something that you’re really invested in.”

In response to another question, all three couples agreed that their Catholic faith provided a solid foundation for a strong and lasting union. Michael Promisel responded, “Marlee and I set some ground rules at the beginning of our relationship that have carried us through difficult moments, and one of those ground rules was that in our relationship we would never ask our spouse to put us in a situation where we’d be acting against our consciences … and that’s been a very deeply grounding, shared agreement that we’ve had. I know that I will never be put in a situation where I feel like I have to choose between faith, or morality, and my family.”

The conversation then turned to handling finances as a couple. Nathan Grow urged, “If you’re married and you’re separating parts of your life in any way, [then] you’re holding something back from your spouse … I can’t understand how one would keep separate finances in marriage unless there was some fear that their spouse might betray them in some way, or there was a desire for control that they don’t want to let go of, and neither of those things, I think, are compatible with a Catholic understanding of what marriage is or what a truly joyful thing it could be.” 

Fogarty told the Rover she and Stout decided to host this event because, “Every time I asked a student last year what their favorite [Right to Life club] event was, the answer was always the marriage panel. Coming into this year, I knew that I wanted to host a similar event and work with couples who could relate to Notre Dame students. When Luke Foster proposed to his then-fiancee, the first thing I asked after congratulating him was if he would be on the panel after he got married, and he was immediately on-board.”

Fogarty continued, “Events like these are popular because they’re real. We’re not flying out a famous speaker; they’re not giving a prepared speech. The conversation is candid and the people we’re learning from are just a couple years ahead of us. I deeply enjoyed the stories and advice these couples had to offer and am grateful for their willingness to share their stories on faith, life, and love.”

Junior Dillon Tarle told the Rover that he attended the event since,“as I get older, I need to start seriously thinking about marriage as something that isn’t just off in the future in some distant way but is becoming a more present reality … All the advice I can get is always helpful.”

Those interested in hearing the rest of the panel discussion may view the event in its entirety on YouTube.

[Editor’s Note: Madelyn Stout is the Layout Manager for the Irish Rover]

Elizabeth Hale is a junior studying political science and Italian. She is a sincere enjoyer of situational humor and dramatic irony. To hear more, she may be reached at

Photo Credit: Merlot Fogarty

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