February 12, 2019

Growing older together, couples share the secrets of long-lasting love.

A funny joke in the hallway. A smile at the school dance. A chance encounter at a sporting event. Young love is an inevitable, albeit awkward right of passage for millions of high school students around the world. That first relationship everyone has is one that many dream will last for a lifetime. Oftentimes, however, high school sweethearts grow apart and move on after graduation.

The perception that young love won’t last is not lost on several Notre Dame alumni, who combined have a total of more than four decades of marriage under their belts. To celebrate the Feast of St. Valentine, after which the national day of love has been aptly named, three couples revealed their secrets and explained how their partnerships thrive today.

Jeff and Lisa (Syrowik) Healy, NDP’98

How they met: “We met our freshmen year at the corn roast (a welcome event for all new incoming freshmen and new students). We really did not talk to each other very much, however, until our sophomore year. Jeff's good friend’s (Greg Tomezak) locker was next to mine and we started talking and getting to know each other when Jeff would stop by.”

What got Jeff’s attention: “Lisa was very kind to everyone. She loved to laugh and was a calm presence. And I thought she had beautiful eyes.”

What got Lisa’s attention: “Jeff was super outgoing and funny and very handsome. He had a great smile and was very confident.”

When was it official: “We started dating February of our junior year. When we graduated, Jeff headed to Michigan State University and Lisa headed to Eastern Michigan University. We went to different colleges but stayed together the whole time. We probably saw each other every weekend. Jeff had a car his freshmen year, which was rare for a freshman at MSU, so it made seeing each other so much easier.”

How he proposed: “I picked her up from her house after work on a Friday. I was getting ready to head back to Michigan State my senior year for the fall semester and told her that it was a special date before I headed back. We went to Rochester Park, found a bench and had a picnic dinner. We both could barely eat. Lisa thought I was breaking up with her (I later found out) and I was so nervous to be holding on to this ring that I was paranoid I was going to lose it. Shortly after dinner, I got down on one knee and proposed.”

When they got married: 2003

What makes their marriage special: “The fact that we have been together since 17. We have seen so much growth in each other, seen how we have evolved as people from children to now 40-year-old adults. We have been able to support each other through many seasons of life knowing how far we've come and never letting each other forget that foundation.”

Their advice for today’s students: “Communicate in a respectful way and not to compare your marriage against everyone else’s social media ‘highlight reel.’”

Marty and Tracey (Healy) Rathsburg, NDP’00

How they met: “I (Marty), met Tracey's older brother before school started with the soccer team and became friends. I then met Tracey in 9th grade gym class and never made the connection. Tracey and I went one-on-one in soccer in class … she won. After we started dating, I went to her house for the first time to meet her family, and I finally made the connection that they were siblings.”

What got Marty’s attention: “Her smile and her laugh.”

What got Tracey’s attention: “I loved your hair! I also loved how you were such a good person, always making responsible choices.”

When was it official: “We dated all through high school and we were senior prom king and queen. We went to Michigan State University together, but she kept breaking up with me! We dated off and on through college and finally our junior year, we stayed together for good. It was good for us to have some time apart to appreciate what we have.”

How he proposed: “We went to three places that were special to us in our relationship. One place was where we went on our first date, The Dilly Deli.”

When they got married: 2005

What makes their marriage special: “How much fun we have together! With five kids, our life is chaotic and busy, but we love it and we laugh a lot.” 

Their advice for today’s students: "Happy wife, happy life!”

Kyle Fabris and Jennie Ackroyd, NDP’02

How they met: “On our first day of orientation for 7th grade at Marist Academy. We were friends until we started dating our senior year.”

What got their attention: “Jennie liked Kyle’s outgoing personality and ability to be friends with everyone. Kyle liked Jennie’s strong charismatic personality, her independence and intelligence.

When was it official: “2nd semester of our senior year and on weekends through college.”

How he proposed: “I proposed at our house in Grand Blanc. When Jennie got home from law school I had rose petals leading her out back where our dog Jake and I were waiting. I got down on one knee and asked her to be my wife.”

When they got married: August 2008

What makes their marriage special: “It started off as a solid friendship and from there we have grown together through many stages of life.” 

Their advice for today’s students: “Remember that you will grow and change throughout college. The person you are leaving high school is just the beginning of what is to come. Trust and support each other. It is very important to be a friend to your spouse.”

Comments or questions?

Follow Notre Dame on Twitter at @NDPMA.

About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three school are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at

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