Ralph Macchio Shares the Secret to His 33-Year Marriage to His High School Sweetheart

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Ralph Macchio Shares the Secret to His 33-Year Marriage to His High School Sweetheart
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Ralph Macchio Shares the Secret to His 33-Year Marriage to His High School Sweetheart

Married to his high school sweetheart and a dad of 2, the '80s icon is savoring his second act with the success of Cobra Kai on Netflix.

Ralph Macchio has long taken a "one foot in, one foot out" approach to Hollywood — and he credits one person with making it possible: his wife of 33 years, Phyllis Fierro.

"Without her and without the foundation and the family we established, 'one foot in, one foot out' would have been very, very difficult on my own," Macchio, 59, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "Because there would not be balance."

The father of two, who stars in the Netflix hit series Cobra Kai — which debuted its third season on Jan. 1 to record-breaking viewership — became a household name playing teen martial arts student Daniel LaRusso in 1984's The Karate Kid. He was 22 at the time and had met Phyllis years earlier, at a cousin's birthday party in his grandmother's basement when he was 15.

Watch the full episode of People Features: Ralph Macchio streaming now on PeopleTV.com, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device.

Gilbert Carrasquillo/Filmmagic Ralph Macchio and his wife, Phyllis Fierro

"This is 1970 or whatever, so this is Cheez Doodles, 7Up, Tootsie Rolls, probably the Ruffles with onion dip," he says with a laugh. "She was a friend of my cousin, and we just smiled and talked and danced a little. Probably the Hustle!"

Today the couple are parents to Daniel, 25, and Julie, 28, and Macchio credits their enduring marriage to "commitment."

For much more on Ralph Macchio, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

"It's the belief through the easy times, through the tough times, whatever we encounter, that we are meant to be together," he says of Phyllis, a nurse practitioner who has worked on the front lines amid COVID-19.

He adds, "We know that we will overcome all because we believe in that, the foundation of that."