Mike and Janet LaReau: Standing Firm on Common Ground
“Janet is a realist, and I’m a dreamer,” says Mike LaReau about their 50-year marriage. “She’s supportive, steady as a rock.”
“I like being married to Mike,” Janet adds. “We have a lot of fun together. We have a lot of similar interests and common ground.”
Since their wedding in 1964, this couple has pursued an active life together, dedicated to serving young people. With degrees in sociology and social work, Mike has worked with troubled and neglected children in a variety of settings. Janet taught special education for 26 years in the Bradley, Illinois school system.
“We like working with kids in special populations,” Janet says. “Especially those with drug and abuse problems.”
“You can learn a lot from a kid just by talking with him or her,” Mike adds. “It’s very rewarding work.”
During their professional careers, they often worked together – Janet as the classroom teacher and Mike as the school’s social worker. Being supportive and understanding of the challenges and demands the other was facing strengthened the foundation of their marriage.
Making their home a welcoming place has always been important for Mike and Janet. Welcoming their children’s friends is a top priority. And they make it a point to get to know the kids and their families. “We’ve built eight homecoming floats at our house,” Mike recalls. “Darcy’s friends were always here eating. Our son’s friends are usually busy on their smartphones.”
Both credit their family traditions as another important way to keep their marriage strong. “We had a cabin in the Black Hills of South Dakota,” Mike says. “Our family went there every summer for 30 years in a row. Other family members often joined us there.”
“We’ve always done a lot of things together,” Janet says. “Remodeling projects, camping, going out to eat, vacationing. I appreciate the common ground we share.”