Lino and Juliet Murillo move in unison as the music pumps through the gym at the San Fernando Recreation Center. They are part of the senior exercise classes held at the facility three times a week and they enjoy them.
And they do it together, as they’ve been doing things for the past 63 years.
That’s how long they’ve been married after they first met at a Catholic Youth Organization’s outing in Malibu. Lino had just returned home to San Fernando after serving in the Korean War. Juliet lived in Van Nuys at the time.
Sparks didn’t fly instantly, however.
For his part, Lino says he thought Juliet was “a little too heavy,” but then, he saw her in a checkered skirt at a dance, and “that was it,” he says of the moment he was lovestruck. Eventually, Juliet thought “he was a very lovable person.”
They started dating and married two years later. More than six decades later, the couple is still together.
“It’s like a dream,” says Juliet, now 80, of their long-lasting marriage.
But she admits it’s not easy.
Learning to “Work Together”
“Marriage is hard. You have to work at it, day by day. We had ups and downs like everybody, but we learned from them,” she said adding that their Catholic faith has also helped them stay together all these years.
Four children, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren later, they have learned “to work together.”
“We don’t keep nothing from each other,” Juliet said. “We just learned to work together and listened to one another. We don’t go to bed mad.”
She notes that the couple has to work in unison, no matter the circumstances.
“Nowadays it’s ‘he has a bank and she has one.’ With us it’s always been one bank,” Julie explains, noting finances can be one of the thorny issues most often cited in divorce proceedings.
More proof of “working together” as a couple is their commitment to exercise. “Romeo and Juliet,” as they are known to friends, are at San Fernando Recreation Park every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the 3 WINS Fitness exercise classes offered to seniors at the facility.
After six decades of marriage, they have learned to rely and depend on each other.
“She’s my love,” says Lino. “It’s something beautiful that we’re still together. We said marriage would be for life and it’s happened.”
Another couple that never misses one of these fitness classes is Yolanda and Romualdo Avila.
They’ve been married 44 years. But, initially, they didn’t seem to be destined to become an item.
They met at a church gathering in Long Angeles. Yolanda was the president of the youth club and Romualdo went to visit with a friend.
“He came in and he had this afro,” Yolanda said, recalling her first impression.
He looked “wild” and, he admits, he was. A good basketball player, Romualdo also liked girls and never missed a chance to hit on them.
Yolanda was the only girl among her siblings and her parents were very strict. She was 22 and had never had a boyfriend.
The only outings allowed were the dances at the church. Their romance was born on the dance floor.
“He was a really good dancer,” said Yolanda, 66.
They danced a “tanda” (five songs) and “after that I didn’t let go of her,” says Romualdo, 69.
They secretly started dating despite all their friends’ predictions that they couldn’t get along because he was “too crazy” and she “too conservative.”
When her family found out about the relationship, they had a fit. Her grandmother decided to take Yolanda to her native El Salvador for a month, “so that I would forget him,” she said.
But it was too late for Yolanda, although she thought he had forgotten about her.
“I did go out to dances and with other girls,” admits Romualdo of that month of separation. But upon hearing she had returned, he immediately called her and they resumed their dating.
Nine months later, after her family’s objections subsided, they were married.
“I had never fallen in love and it was one time and forever,” Yolanda said.
“She’s the only one,” adds Romualdo.
Lasting Love Means Long Marriage
They give credit to their long marriage to love.
“If you don’t love each other, you’re not going to put up with it,” Yolanda says, matter of factly.
“You have to respect each other,” Romualdo said. “I’m lucky because we’re still together.”
The parents of two children and one grandchild say there must be a lot of patience and tolerance for each other. They still head to the movies or to date nights and in June they’ll be heading on a cruise.
Yolanda says it’s important to keep the flame of love lit up.
Juliet and Lino concur.
This Valentine’s Day, Juliet said she is expecting flowers, as usual.