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Ann Conway

They Keep Love Alive Every Day

February 12, 1988|Ann Conway

The Valentine's Day celebrations of four of Orange County's most influential couples will be nothing special--just extensions of their formulas for safe and sane relationships.

Crystal Cathedral pastor the Rev. Robert Schuller and his wife, Arvella, who have been married 37 years, will go on one of the "mini-honeymoons" they take every six weeks.

UCI Chancellor Jack Peltason and his wife, Suzanne, married 41 years, will dine with old friends.

Roger Johnson, CEO of Western Digital, and his wife, Janice, married 32 years, will take off for their desert hideaway.

And Performing Arts Center President Thomas Kendrick and General Manager Judy Morr--his wife of one year--will attend a ballet.

"We take a mini-honeymoon every six weeks because that's about the time I find we need a break," said Arvella Schuller, who is program director of her husband's "Hour of Power" television show.

"I whisk him away for a couple of days and tell him we're going to have fun and rest together. It's a matter of priorities. Communication doesn't just happen."

She's found, she says, that if she doesn't put time on her husband's calendar, others do.

"We have a date-night every Monday night," she said. "That's a commitment you make. You don't let the calendar run your life. You organize the calendar."

Keeping love alive on a daily basis is helped along with the "daily compliment" they pay each other.

"Compliments help you stay positive," she said. "You want to spend more time together. At night, he'll take off his glasses--I've had a mastectomy, you know--and tell me I'm the most beautiful woman in the world."

"Yes, I'm taking her on a date to Hawaii," Robert Schuller said, adding that this particular mini-honeymoon will last six days.

"Our marriage seems to come naturally, as far as I'm concerned," he said. "We definitely have a team marriage.

"My projects are hers and hers are mine. Our lives run on dual tracks."

It's Arvella's "positive mental attitude," Schuller said, that enables him to share himself with so many. "I am a normal, everyday person with an understandable inclination to be negative in my attitudes, just like everyone else.

"When I start drifting in that direction, she catches me, makes me aware of it, inspires me to turn the dial till the focus is clear and positive again. She's masterful at that."

Jack Peltason said his wife, Suzanne, "does very well with lots of things I don't do well. She's careful and considerate in social matters, a major link with family and friends."

On Valentine's Day, the couple will dine at home with two of those friends. "I'm going to buy a cake in the shape of a heart," Suzanne Peltason said. "And I usually give Jack a valentine. And he says: 'Oh! It's Valentine's Day! I should get you flowers.' And I say, 'Oh, forget it.' "

For the Peltasons, keeping marriage alive has to do with "support," she says. "Everybody has to be stroked by somebody. We love each other. Admire each other. If you don't get love and admiration at home, where do you get it? We don't have one of those best-friend / severest-critic marriages. We believe in mutual support."

Jack Peltason, for his part, says he's "one of the lucky ones."

"I have a full-time wife. She devotes her very creative energies to doing things and freeing me to not have to deal with them. Then she points me in their direction when I must deal with them. She is the co-commander of a good part of our life."

Janice Johnson describes the desert trek she and Roger will take over Valentine's Day as "perhaps sounding a little boring."

"But we have no tradition for that day," she said. "Though last year Roger got me a very beautiful ring for being a good wife."

Her definition of a good wife? "Having patience. Truly, we don't always agree, but we always support each other. We really do. We disagree in private.

"I only have a tantrum every five years. I say: 'We need a vacation, a real vacation, like Africa!' "

Roger Johnson says his wife is his counselor. "And I am hers," he said. "We talk about everything. She's very bright, and, though she doesn't know a lot specifically about certain problems I have, she brings her perspective.

"There isn't much that we do that we don't talk about almost every night. We've been through about everything together, from paying our way through college to having reasonable careers. She's my good friend."

"He can't unload at work," Janice said, "so he talks to me an awful lot. Sometimes we fight. Roger doesn't like to fight, but I like a good fight. Let's face it: He has a big job, and at times he tends to get taken up with it. There are other things in life. So I just stomp my feet and say 'whoooooaaa.'

"You've got to bring things out. You can't hide things under the rug and stay happily married."

When Thomas Kendrick and Judy Morr go to the ballet on Valentine's Day, they'll will find themselves smack-dab in the middle of theater, a world they say helps broaden and strengthen their relationship.

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