Secrets to long and happy marriage

Toowoomba couple share secrets after 70-year marriage

"Love, commitment and honouring our vows."  

That is what Joyce Toombs, 89, said led to her celebrating her 70th wedding anniversary with husband Ernie Toombs today.  

"That's what keeps you going, if you can remind yourself of the vows, to love one another, honour one another in sickness and health, until death do you part, that is the answer," Joyce said.  

"You go through lots of ups and down, but at the end of the day we love one another."   Ernie, 92, joked obedience was also key in the relationship.  

Ernie and Joyce Toombs on their wedding day, February 14, 1948.
Ernie and Joyce Toombs on their wedding day, February 14, 1948. Contributed

"I always have the last say in this house, when I say yes dear," he said.  

The couple, who moved to Toowoomba from Brisbane 42 years ago, met through a friend when Ernie was 16 and Joyce was 13.

They became secretly engaged a year later.  

They married on Valentines Day in 1948, after Joyce had turned 18.   

The wedding took place inside a grocery shop the couple ran at the time.

They later went on to run well-known Toowoomba business Ernie Toomb's Sewing Machines.  

"It was nothing like weddings are today," Joyce said.  

"The counter in the shop was the wedding table.  

"We made our own sandwiches and cakes."  

Ernie said he and Joyce made a conscious decision their marriage wouldn't be like their parents.   

"My father and Joyce's father weren't very likeable blokes," Ernie said.  

"I can remember vividly how my dad treated my mum verbally."  

"We said our marriage is going to be perfect and it has been for 70 years," Joyce said.

Joyce said she often came up with jobs for Ernie to do around the home.

"I've kept him busy doing work around the place," she said.

Ernie said despite his age he hardly ever called a handyman to do jobs around the house.

"I love it when Joyce says she doesn't feel like working that day, because then I get the day off too," he said.

The couple have six children, 18 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren.  

"Our oldest great grandchild is 22, she's going steady with a man, so we're hoping to reach great, great grandchildren soon," Joyce said.  

"Ernie wouldn't know their names, men don't rememberer those things.  

 "I have a diary filled with family history, so if I miss one I can go back and check them out.  

"We hope our legacy to our family is that they're happy, we don't want material things. We hope that legacy goes on."

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