Sunday Herald Sun - Body and Soul
“It’s nice when your husband still wants to kiss you
When your boobs are sagging and you smell of garlic”
Ask Larry Emdur and his wife Sylvie how many times they’ve been married and they respond in unison: three times. The thing is, each time it’s been to each other. Renewing their vows isn’t just an opportunity to re-pledge their commitment, it’s in keeping with their ethos that life should be full of adventures. It’s why the couple once jetted to Paris for a weekend, moved to Los Angeles for a stint and are now living in a New York-style warehouse apartment after years of being by the sea.
“We decided we need to do at least one completely crazy thing each year so that we’ll have some ridiculously good stories to remind each other about when we’re in the nursing home,” says Emdur, who will next week celebrate 26 years of marriage to Sylvie.
Relaxing in the stunning Sydney apartment where a massive sunken bath sits at the end of their master bedroom, the pair are a glamorous advertisement for empty nesting as, fingers entwined, they explain why their marriage has been a success.
“We never argue,” Emdur, 55, tells Body & Soul.
“Only because he doesn’t argue,” adds Sylvie, 53, laughing. “I’m European so I’m quite feisty and forthright. I can go from zero to 100 and yell and scream but he just says, ‘Oh baby, are you not feeling well?’ How do you fight with that?”
Emdur, who’s hosted The Morning Show on the
Seven Network for the past 13 years, concurs: “I’ve never been able to do conflict. It upsets me. I’d love to be one of those people who can puff their chest out and have a good solid argument but I’m just not. Once I screamed at our son and I ran off and threw up.”
If television is a precarious industry so, too, are the marriages of those who inhabit it. In a business where shows are axed without warning, popularity is judged by daily ratings and egos are made fragile by the constant scrutiny, the Emdurs are proof that a relationship can not only survive, but flourish.
Central to their success is a promise Larry made to Sylvie when they were newly married. He explained that some of his jobs might last six months, others five years, but that he’d always have a plan B to ensure their financial security. “I promised her and the kids that I’d never be that guy who sits by the phone and mopes around.”
That plan B of investing in properties – which has seen them build townhouses, and buy a motel and several apartments – not only takes up more time than Emdur’s television work, but it’s created a job for Sylvie, who has proven herself to be a talented renovator. She was thrown in the deep end when Emdur bought them a house when they were first married which, she says, was notable for its “green furry wallpaper”. Two-and-a-half decades later and their children, Jye, 26, and Tia, 21, have flown the nest, so the pair now spend their weeks in Sydney and weekends on Berowra Waters north of the city. Sylvie also recently put the finishing touches on a rental property called Sky Ridge in Kangaroo Valley, in the Shoalhaven region of the NSW South Coast.
While others mourn their children leaving, the couple say they’ve embraced the change and view this as their time. As Sylvie says: “Larry is so optimistic and positive and nothing is ever a problem. You never know what you’re going to get with him but it’s always spontaneous and fun.” They’re also affectionate, she says, pointing out that they still kiss and cuddle while cooking dinner. “We’re very lovey-dovey. It’s nice when your husband still wants to kiss you when your boobs are sagging and you smell of onion and garlic.”
Kylie Gillies, Emdur’s longtime co-host on
The Morning Show, says she has great admiration for her colleague. “As a work husband he’s the best – funny, considerate and understanding and I know that’s what he brings to his marriage, too,” Gillies tells Body & Soul. “It’s his spontaneity, joy and always being ‘up’ for something that’s really admirable and Sylvie is able to harness all that and weave it into something beautiful for the two of them and their family.”
And the pair’s affinity was evident from the first moment they met in the early ’90s. Larry was flying from Sydney to Melbourne to host The Price Is Right and Sylvie, then a flight attendant with the Australian airline Ansett, was amused that her business class passenger was soaked to the skin after being caught in a rainstorm. As they disembarked, he handed her a note with his name and four phone numbers – his home, work, mobile phone (Emdur had one even back then) and mother’s landline. In return, Sylvie handed him her mother’s phone number, remarking that if he could get past her mother then she’d concede to going on a date with him. In the end, their first date became an all-day affair, culminating in her flatmate calling the police when Sylvie failed to return home.
While the most challenging time of their marriage was when Emdur was away for work after the birth of their son, Sylvie says she was never concerned about her husband straying, even when The Price Is Right featured girls in lingerie. “If you can’t do anything about it, don’t worry about it,” she says nonchalantly.
More concerning, she says with a laugh, were the habits he picked up while living out of hotels for five years. “Where Larry stands, Larry drops. So there’s a T-shirt here, a computer there,” she explains with a laugh. “And he’s always looking for his wallet!”