There were family illnesses to manage, and problems that cropped up -- like the time her mother's house flooded while they were living there. They moved away from West Virginia for a time because of his job with United Airlines. But leaving family and friends behind was hard on Doris and their two sons, so she moved back with the boys, and she and Gael had a long-distance relationship that was tough on them both.
"We almost didn't make it, but we just kind of hung in there," Doris said.
There was another career move a few years later, and this time, with one son grown and another in college, they made the move together. And somehow, it all worked out.
"We kind of had to get to know each other again, but when it came back, it came back fast," she said.
So much so that in 1996 Gael gave her a heartfelt Valentine's Day card she thought was particularly special: red, with a picturesque front porch and a white wicker rocking chair.
"When I am old and gray, sitting in a rocking chair on my front porch ... I want more than anything to be able to turn to you, take your hand in mine and look into the face of the one I fell in love with years ago," it read.
She's held onto that valentine ever since. And a few years later, when they returned to Charleston for good to be near family and friends, they ended up in a home with a front porch and -- on warm days -- a couple of white chairs that look an awful lot like the one in that card.
"We were married at ages 18 and 19, and we are now 74 and 75. ... The valentine has come to pass. We feel blessed to still be able to hold the hand and look into the face of the one we love," she wrote in a letter to the Gazette.
Today, they share in the simple joys of life -- raising a couple of dogs they've loved, helping with grandchildren they love even more, and traveling. They both say they're happy -- or, as Gael put it, "I still like her well enough."
If there's a secret to a long and happy marriage, they're not sure exactly what it might be. But there have been some lessons along the way.
Gael said: "It's hard work, and you have to remember to hold your temper. ... Get some counseling on what to expect from your married life together. ... Get some parenting classes -- most people don't know what they're getting into. ... Be ready to make a commitment, and plan to stick with it."
Doris said: "It's give and take. ... It's not just you and what you want. You have to be willing to put the other person first. ... I don't think young people think enough about money, about finances -- we certainly didn't. ... You've got to take it seriously, and do the best you can."
Words of wisdom from two people who've taken life's journey together.
"When I married him, we were both working, but we had nothing, really. I never dreamed we'd be living in a pretty nice house, or have the opportunity to travel all over the world, and just to be content. I feel like life's been good, because it has. A lot more than I ever expected," Doris said.
As for how they plan to celebrate Valentine's Day, they haven't decided yet. She wants to go to Nashville, Tenn.; he's thinking Las Vegas. Neither one of them seems too worried about the specifics. Whatever they do, it will be together.
Reach Maria Young at maria.yo...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5115.