Seventy-nine years ago, Julio Mora and Waldramina Quinteros secretly married on February 7, 1941, against their families' wishes.
Their forbidden love now makes them the oldest living married couple in the world, with a combined age of nearly 215, according to the Guinness World Records.
"For us, Julio Cesar and Waldramina, it is a great honor and pride to have a Guinness World Records title because it is the highest award that the world recognizes," Quinteros, 104, and Mora, 110, said in a statement to Guinness.
"The secret formula = love + maturity + mutual respect," they added
The couple first met through her brother-in-law, who just so happened to be Mora's cousin. What started out as a friendship grew into something more, and seven years later, they secretly tied the knot in front of their godparents and their closest friends.
They were married in La Iglesia de El Belen, the first church built by the Spanish in Ecuador's capital of Quito, where they live.
"The love and maturity that we had as a couple from the beginning of the marriage allowed us to know each other and grow emotionally to define our future," the couple said.
"It was not easy because our relatives did not have a good relationship, but with time and patience we were able to unite them and we became an example and the best reference for the younger generations" they added.
Quinteros and Mora, both retired teachers, are parents to five children, who all went on to receive college degrees.
"Family unity under the rules of love, mutual respect, honest work, and proper education based on family values are the keys to healthy coexistence," the couple said.
Their oldest son sadly died at the age of 58. However, the couple still has a large brood with 11 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, and nine great-great-grandchildren.
Their daughter Cecilia told the Associated Press that Quinteros and Mora have been "more downcast" as of late as they haven't been able to see their family in large gatherings due to the pandemic.
"It is true that at this time it is difficult because we are overwhelmed by the pandemic that affects the world and we still do not have a solution. However, the first step for us to follow the rules with respect and love the life," the couple said.
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