FOR SOME couples the thought of working together could spell the end of a relationship. But for Victorian couple Laura and Ray Goldsmith, volunteering in the same op shop is the secret to their long and happy marriage.
The pair, who celebrated 52 years of wedded bliss this year, have been helping out at Villa Maria Catholic Homes Wantirna op shop for 14 years.
Spending time together is important to the duo - so volunteering together was a natural decision.
While Laura's an expert at chatting to customers and keeping the store clean and tidy, Ray prefers to sort and place items for sale.
Opposite interests and personalities are what makes their marriage great, say the pair. In fact, it's what drew them together in the first place.
Laura describes her first impressions of Ray as "quiet, tall, dark and handsome", while Ray said Laura was a "bouncy sort of girl...very outgoing and chatty!"
"Ray's very shy, so if I hadn't of proposed, I'd probably still be waiting," said Laura, 71.
The couple married just over a year after they first met, raising four children and settling into the family home in Wantirna.
Laura worked as an aged care nurse and Ray in the printing business before they retired. The couple still like to keep busy, Ray with his photography and Laura with her bingo and bike riding.
"Before I go out on my bike, Ray will check my tyres and mirrors. He keeps a good eye on my safety, and I make sure all his washing is back in the cupboard!"
More than five decades on, there's still a lot of love and admiration between them.
"Ray is a very delightful, clever and caring man," Laura said. "I call him Mr Magic because nearly anything that's broken, he can fix."
And Ray said Laura encourages people to do things and gets them motivated. "She keeps me on my toes," he said.
And the all-important 'secret' to a long and happy marriage?
"I like to tell young people marriage is like a fine wine... it matures with age!" Laura said.
- To volunteer with Villa Maria Catholic Homes phone 1800 036 377.