HAWARDEN—What’s the secret to wedded bliss?
Pooling the advice of three Hawarden couples offers a simple answer: “Just marry a Judy.”
And perhaps, play pool with your spouse as these couples — Jim and Judy (Murrell) Abbott; Dick and Judy (Westadt) Liston; and Wendell “Zeke” and Judy (Utesch) Zoeller — do three times a week at local establishments.
Their advice may have some merit as each couple has been married more than 50 years.
The Abbotts got married July 27, 1963. They dated just three weeks before tying the knot.
“We just knew,” Jim Abbott said, about the quick marriage, putting a finger in his mouth symbolizing he was hooked right away. “She was working at the Royal Cafe. I asked her to go on a date with me, but she had already had one planned to go on that night. On our first date we just went out and drove around; that is what you did back then.”
“Three weeks we knew each other,” Judy Abbott said. “He had to wait for the next night, that was the sixth of July and we were married the 27th of the same month.”
The Listons and the Zoellers met each other through mutual friends. Their love stories started out with just hanging around each other, being in the same school and cruising around.
“On our first date, we went to the drive-in movie,” Judy Liston said.
She does not remember what was showing that day and her friend, Judy Zoeller, joked they “probably didn’t watch it.”
“We all had the same favorite parking spots, any place it was dark,” said Dick Liston with a laugh.
The Listons were married April 2, 1966.
The Zoellers’ first date was also to the drive-in theater.
“Lover’s Lane, and the hill out by where the old Catholic Church was,” Judy Zoeller said. “There were a couple out in South Dakota that were good, too. I didn’t like the dark so that was always interesting. I know you won’t believe it, but I was shy back then.”
The Zoellers go married Feb. 13, 1965.
Not one of the couples can remember who told the other one they loved them first, but all agree that’s not important. What matters most is that they showed their love for each other daily, stayed calm and focused on being honest with each other.
To newlyweds, the couples advise that marriage takes a lot of teamwork.
“You have got to work together,” Judy Zoeller said. “Our second year of marriage, we didn’t have a very good year — he lost his mother, we lost a good friend in Vietnam and we lost our first baby. You have to stick together. You can’t just give up.”
“Go with the flow,” Jim Abbott said. “You have got to give and take.”
“Yes, I don’t think Zeke and I have ever really decided who’s the boss,” Judy Zoeller said. “I mean you are a team.”
“She’s the boss in our house,” Dick Liston joked. “I do always get the final word in at our house though when I say ‘yes dear.’”