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Love that lasts: Couples share advice for keeping marriages strong

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Posted: Monday, June 19, 2017 11:30 am

It’s June, and in most of the U.S., that means it’s wedding season. According to the magazine Redbook, June is the most popular month to get married — perhaps because of its association with marriage and child-raising dating back to ancient Rome.

Most couples who get married this month may be too focused on the happiness and festivities to worry about the future. As their relationship grows, however, keeping it strong and healthy will be important.

Luckily, Lodi has a number of couples who have been married for decades, and three of them — Ray and Doris Shates, Lorraine and Richard Stanford, and Terry and Jeanette Quashnick — were willing to share how they’ve stayed in love for so long.

Ray and Doris Shates: 73 years

For Ray and Doris Shates, it was love at first sight.

“We were in Richmond, California. Ray was working in the shipyard, and I was working at ... (the) bowling alley,” Doris Shates said.

They began dating, and were married six weeks later, on Oct. 13, 1944.

The world was pretty different back then, the couple said. They didn’t have a car for several years — things were harder to come by then, Doris said.

Ray worked for AT&T for more than 30 years, until his retirement. Doris was a hair stylist, but became a homemaker when they adopted the first of their four children.

Through good times and hard ones, for 73 years, the couple has remained deeply in love.

Their secret?

“I kid people that one of you has to know when to be quiet,” Doris said, laughing mischievously.

Asked the same question, Ray said with a laugh, “I’ll tell you how. Every day, I just said ‘Yes, dear,’ — that’s how we get along.”

It’s clear they’re joking, though, when they share the real key to their healthy relationship: Respect.

“I think a lot of couples, once they’re married, they don’t really respect each other or they wouldn’t argue so much,” Doris said.

She and Ray always made a point of being respectful of each other and treating each other well. They treated their marriage like a true partnership, each pitching in around the home.

Always say sorry, Doris advised, but try not to need to.

Now, Ray is 93 and Doris will be 91 on Tuesday. The couple has four children and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

They also traveled together and spend time together, but they have separate hobbies, too.

Doris enjoys sewing, reading and coloring.

“I just did a five-thousand-piece puzzle,” she said.

Ray enjoys watching TV — harder now due to macular degeneration — and going for walks every day.

But in the end, they just put in the work to get along, and they never lost sight of the joy in their marriage.

“I’m just happy to be here,” Doris said.

Lorraine and Richard Stanford: 61 years

The Stanfords fell for each other fast, too.

“We met in college, in summer school,” Lorraine said.

That was at Washington State University in Pullman. Richard was finishing a degree in business administration, and Lorraine was working on a degree in home economics.

Three weeks after they met, Richard proposed.

“He was going into the Army and he was in the draft, so he was going to be gone for two years,” Lorraine said.

It was 1953, toward the end of the Korean War, but the Stanfords were fortunate — Richard was stationed in France, and the two years gave Lorraine time to finish her education.

When he returned to the states, the couple set out making a life together. It involved a lot of moving around, along the whole West Coast and then east through the Southwest.

“We’ve done a lot of traveling,” Lorraine said.

After they lost their first child, Richard shifted his career from business administration to hospital administration. That meant an internship in Seattle, obtaining a master’s degree in Berkeley, residency in Fresno, followed by jobs in Phoenix and El Paso before landing in Lodi.

Richard served as the administrator for Lodi Memorial Hospital from 1968 to 1993.

The Stanfords have five children.

“We had one in every hospital he worked in,” Lorraine said with a laugh.

The couple credits their strong marriage to their faith, both in God and in each other.

“You need to really love the Lord and follow his leading in your life,” Lorraine said.

In every city where the Stanfords have lived, they have found a good church with a strong, active community, including First Baptist Church of Lodi.

“Be faithful to each other. That’s the thing that keeps us together,” she added.

The Stanfords continue to travel, going on church volunteering and mission trips to Mexico, Brazil, Europe and beyond. They also traveled in a fifth-wheel trailer through most of the U.S.

Love that lasts: Couples share advice for keeping marriages strong
Terry and Jeanette Quashnick pose for a photo at their daughter's wedding. The pair recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. (Courtesy photograph)

Terry and Jeanette Quashnick: 50 years

The Quashnicks celebrated their 50th anniversary earlier this month.

They met at Jeanette’s graduation from Lodi High School. Terry, a Lodi High alumnus, was there to celebrate the graduation of his cousin, who was in Jeanette’s class.

“We started dating the next day,” Jeanette said.

After three years. they married in 1967, and they have two children.

Though they’ve celebrated a lot of happiness in their marriage, they’ve weathered difficult times as well.

Terry served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970, in the 173rd Airborne Brigade of the U.S. Army. The elite combat unit saw nearly continuous combat.

It was a difficult time for Jeanette.

“You never knew if he was alive or not, because his letters took two weeks to get here,” she said.

Terry earned a Bronze Star after saving the life of a comrade on a jungle battlefield.

“You realize how precious life really is,” he said of his service.

As difficult as that time was, the Quashnicks said that it helped to strengthen their marriage.

For example, his service taught him never to give up, and to always do the best he could, skills that he brought into their marriage.

The Quashnicks were also clear about their goals and dedicated to seeing them through from the beginning. Terry wanted to start a business —Quashnick Tools, which was sold to Cepheid in 2013 — and Jeanette wanted to be a full partner in that goal.

Owning a business can be exciting and fun when it’s going well, but it can also be very stressful, the couple said.

“We’ve been on the edge of bankruptcy four times in 40 years,” Terry said. “As a team, you have to work together.”

Through four decades, while they occasionally argued at home, he could only remember one time they argued at the office, he said with a chuckle.

Having shared goals and ideals was key to weathering any obstacles, Jeanette said.

“We both come from strong, German families where you persevere regardless,” she said.

Their faith was also an important factor. They both believed in putting God first, family second, and everything else third, and that helped them stick together and work through challenges like raising a family and running a business, Jeanette said.

“It’s a lot of hard work. The one thing you have to do is stay together,” Terry said.

No one’s life is perfect, which is why it’s important to stick together even through hard times, but never lose sight of your joy to be together and the love that grows deeper each year, Jeanette said.

“Be open to each other’s needs. Don’t be selfish. Help each other. Most of all, love each other,” she said.

Then, when you look back over your marriage, you’ll be grateful you did.

“You’re so happy to have spent your years together,” Jeanette said.

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