Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 3, 2003
'I still buy her flowers'
After 37 years, Duigoue still working at making marriage happy
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
After almost 37 years of marriage, Lynne and Lou Duigou are still in love with each other. And it shows. "I still buy her flowers," Lou says, hugging his wife tenderly. "And I love it," replied Lynne blushing slightly.
The Duigous don't claim to have the perfect marriage but they believe they have a pretty successful one. "The fact that we are still together and love one another and enjoy doing things together I think are all signs that we have a successful marriage," Lou said. "We are enjoying our retirement now. And we are enjoying our children as adults and our (two) grandchildren."
The Duigous' secret for success is simple. "I think we have worked at our marriage and when there have been difficult times we've stuck to it and worked it through in a variety of ways," Lynne said.
"Good open communication is essential (for a successful marriage)," stressed Lou, 64. "You have to trust one another and care for one another. I guess if there is distrust and lack of common goals in life it could be very tough on a marriage and I guess some of them don't make it."
Most importantly, the Duigous have always paid close attention to their relationship as a couple, making sure the flame of their romance never goes out. When their three children were small, they would hire a babysitter and would go out on dates with each other, sometimes to a movie, sometimes for a walk, always holding hands.
Now that their children are gone and married, they romance each other more often. "We have an empty nest now so we have a lot more time together," Lynne noted.
Lou, a retired area superintendent with Edmonton Catholic Schools, is currently serving as a trustee with St. Albert Catholic Schools. Lynne, who teaches part-time at the University of Alberta, is a retired teacher and assistant principal with Edmonton Catholic. They are both active members of Holy Family Parish.
The couple met in the early 1960s in Drumheller, where they were both teaching, and married there in 1964. In 1973 they moved to Three Hills, where Lou became assistant superintendent of Catholic schools. In 1977 they moved to Peace River, where he became superintendent of the Catholic school district.
The Duigous have been in St. Albert since 1984. Lou retired from Edmonton Catholic in 1995 and Lynne retired in 1997. For the past few years, Lynne has been coordinating Together in Ministry, a lay formation program offered by Newman Theological College.
"Our marriage may sound boring to some people because we have lasted this long but so be it," Lou said.
"We didn't find it boring." Lynne said. "We've enjoyed each other's company."
The Duigous admit their marriage has had its ups and downs but they take pride in the fact they have always managed to solve their problems.
"Sometimes when we had disagreements one or the other would say, 'We have to talk' and sometimes we would talk right then or sometimes later depending on where we were at the time," Lou noted.
The couple would occasionally give each other the "silent treatment" but not for long. "Sometimes there is that silence because you feel the other person needs some space or sometimes you need the space," Lou explained. "But then we would say to each other 'We need to talk,' because we know there is a problem that needs to be solved."
For the first two years of their marriage, Lou would act as if he was still single, spending much of his free time with his drinking partners. "That became a problem, perhaps the first problem," Lou admitted. "Luckily we talked. Lynne expressed her concerns about that."
He changed his ways soon after their first baby was born. "It took me a while to realize that the baby had brought about a change in our family and our relationship."
Because they talked to each other, the Duigous were able to agree on items that are crucial to any marriage such as finances, children and their own relationship.
"We set some financial goals for ourselves quite a long time ago," Lou said. "We knew what our income was, we knew that we wanted to save some money for the future, for our old age and we set some goals, developed a plan to meet those and we did it."
"We had the same focus and the same goals," added Lynne. "We wanted children who were well brought-up and well disciplined. We taught them to be responsible for their actions and we allowed them the freedom to make decisions as they were able to."
The couple decided early on that Lynne would stay home to raise the children, which she did until they were in Grade 4. "We thought that child raising was so important to be done well that one of the parents should stay home," Lou said.
The family would eat together, play together, go to Church together and go on holidays together.
"We enjoyed our family," Lou said. "We enjoyed doing things together, we went on lots of camping trips with them, hill climbing. And we did a lot of educational things with them like museums. One memorable trip that we had that really brought our family together was two weeks in Hawaii in 1982. The kids still talk about that."
Family was so important to the Duigous that in 1984 Lou quit his job as superintendent in Peace River because the job was too time consuming and didn't allow him enough time with the children.
"The job situation was starting to impact our family and we chose to change the job situation," Lynne said. The family then moved to St. Albert, where Lou took a job with the Greater St. Albert Catholic School District as director of curriculum. In 1987 he joined the Edmonton Catholic Schools as area superintendent.
"One of the crucial things with our marriage is that we've had our faith to fall back on and that we've continued to practise our faith ourselves and with our families throughout our marriage," Lynne noted.
"Sometimes when you read the Gospel you find that you can relate it to yourself," Lou said. "You realize you are not doing what the Scripture or the Gospel tells you so we need to find some ways to arrange our lives more in line with the Gospel."
Early in their marriage, the Duigous also sought the support and counsel of priests to help them through their difficulties. "It was important for us to know that we weren't in it alone, that we had a support network from within the Church," Lynne said.
The couple also attended Marriage Encounter weekends on a couple of occasions and said the retreats provided them with valuable communication skills to keep their marriage flourishing.
The Duigous' home was generally a harmonious home but sometimes they couldn't help but argue in front of the children. "We know it's not the best but at the same time life is not always a bowl of cherries, not always perfect," Lou said. "So if we exchanged words in front of the kids that's part of life too but we think what's more important is what we did afterwards - how we may have forgiven one another, how we dealt with the situation."
Couples need to talk things out between themselves rather than in front of the kids, recommended Lynne. "If there is a disagreement they need to come to an agreement between the two of them through a discussion and then present a united front with the children."
The Duigous did that as often as they could. If one of them had a concern with something the other had authorized, the couple would talk about the situation and come back to the kids with a united front. "We would say to the kids, 'We changed our minds. This isn't the way we want to go (anymore).' We were united and the kids knew they couldn't play one against the other."
Throughout their marriage the Duigous have also made a habit of respecting each other's independence. "We knew that each has to have our own interests and our time and our own space and we respect that so while we do a lot of things together we each have interests that we do as individuals," Lynne said. "We have friends that we have in common but we also have our own separate friends."
"Married couples don't have to be doing everything together all the time. Sometimes we think its good to be associated with other people," Lou said.
Added Lynne: "We support each other in what we are doing. Lou supports me in my job, in what I am doing and does things to allow me to be able to do that. I support him in what he is doing to allow him to be able to do the job that he needs to do. We understand each other's commitments, support each other.
"And if we are going to take on something new, we talk about it before hand. We assess the impact it is going to have on the other person."