What happens when the captain of the basketball team and the head cheerleader fall in love, get married and have kids? Well, you get successful couple Robin and Steve Stratton. Together, the Strattons have created a successful life for themselves in more ways than one. They own a growing McDonald’s franchise, they have strong friendships with other Louisville couples and their kids generally seem to like them. I would know; I’m their daughter.
Because, in my eyes, they are such a model couple, I decided to sit down with my mom and dad and ask them how they make their relationship work so well.
How did you meet?
Both 15 at the time, Robin and Steve met in 1979 at a homecoming float-building party in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Steve recalled, “I saw Robin and I had several of my friends who knew her introduce me several times.”
“Eleven times,” Robin interjected. “‘Hi, I’m Steve Stratton’ eleven times.”
“And that night she went home and wrote in her diary that she was going to marry me”
“I didn’t put that! I wrote, ‘I think I met the guy,’” she said with a smile, “but I had another boyfriend.”
How did he propose?
After ditching the other boyfriend, Robin and Steve dated on-and-off throughout high school and remained together during college. After college, Steve proposed at Robin’s father’s house.
“He proposed on the deck at my dad’s house on my 23rd birthday,” Robin said.
“It’s cooler than that. I went and I rented a Lincoln Continental and I drove up behind her dad’s house, ran through the bushes, put the ring up on the deck, then ran back to the house, knocked on the door, and we went out to the deck. I had champagne and I said, ‘Oh! What’s this?’ and there was the ring. Then we went out to dinner, and we had a carriage ride through Birmingham, Mich.,” Steve proudly clarified.
How do you make it work on a day-to-day basis?
“We stay true to who we are as individuals and really enjoy spending time together. So we maintain our own interests and our own friends, but then we love going out with other couples,” Robin said. “And we laugh every day.”
How do you divide up household chores?
“I’m the inside of the house, he’s the outside of the house,” Robin said with a laugh. “He does things like the garbage and the pool, watering things, and I do the inside.”
Where do you like to go when you’re out ‘n’ about?
With a kid in college and another in high school, Steve and Robin have time for a healthy social life.
“We love Louisville,” Robin said, “especially downtown and the unique restaurants. We love the new (Yum! Center) arena.”
Serious Cards fans, Steve explained, “We go to every Louisville Cardinals football and basketball game. We share a suite with another group at the Yum! Center.
“We also love going to any concerts in town,” he added.
What is one thing you always do as a couple?
With a large extended family – Steve is one of six and Robin is one of four – the Strattons travel to visit relatives all over the country. “We put family first,” Robin said. “We also attend our kids’ sporting events and cultural events.”
“We also do a lot of charity stuff together,” added Steve. “Ronald McDonald House, Jewish Family and Career Services, events for Louisville Collegiate School.”
They also work together as owner-operators of McDonald’s restaurants in Kentucky and Indiana. But it’s never all work and no play. “We work together, but we also love to entertain together. We love having people over,” Robin said.
What is some advice you would offer couples – new or old – who desire to walk through life in tandem?
“Surround yourselves with other people who are happy and who are in love. Remove negative energy from your lives,” Robin said.
Steve added, “Marry your best friend.”
Robin agreed, “Yes, marry your best friend. Be as much friends as lovers. Share the same priorities as far as family.”
What are some Do’s and Don’ts of the relationship?
Do: “Make mama happy,” Steve immediately said.
Robin, laughing, added, “Make time to talk one-on-one every day.”
Don’t: “Don’t stay mad long,” said Robin.
“Don’t make her mad,” joked Steve.
November 5, 1988.
Max, 14, a freshman lacrosse player at Collegiate; Samantha, 19, a contributing writer for The Voice-Tribune and a sophomore at American University; Ruthie, 6, their Yorkshire Terrier.
Sanctuary Bluff in Eastern Jefferson County.
Owner-operators of a McDonald’s franchise. Robin is the former executive director and COO of the Jewish Community Center.
Cats or Cards
One word: Cards. No discussion.
Category: In Tandem