SALT LAKE CITY – Thirty-seven years ago Manuel and Felicia Gutierrez took a very important commitment: They got married.
Born and raised in Guanajuanto, Mexico, Manuel immigrated to the United States when he was just 11 years old with his parents searching a better life.
They arrived in California, where they stayed for almost eight years before moving to Utah. While in California, he met Felicia, who had immigrated to the U. S. with her parents from Oaxaca, Mexico.
"We shared the same values and that attracted us," said Felicia, whose mother become a widow when she was very young, so Felicia saw how she completely dedicated herself to her children, forming in them a very strong sense of responsibility to the family.
"My mom taught me to pray and ask God to find a good, hard-working man for me,"
Felicia said. "Aside from seeing her use her creativity and dedication in everything, she was my best friend and we used to talk a lot. She taught me with her example."
Manuel’s parents also were role models, he said: His father had a very cheerful character and was a hard-working man. From his mother he learned love, dedication and protection – all ingredients to make a very solid family, all qualities that he inherited and that Felicia looked for in a man.
While they were dating, they both kept their faith as a foundation.
"He made me feel happy, secure, loved and we never fought. I remember how at Christmas we always decorated the Christmas tree together, and I respected his parents a lot," said Felicia.
"We identify very well and that strengthened my feelings for her, so I decided to buy a pair of earrings to formalize our relationship and then came the wedding," said Manuel.
They got married on Dec. 11, 1974. At the beginning of their marriage they learned to listen to each other and to always put their love first.
"I remember it was not very easy, accepting all the changes," Felicia said. "I used to tell my mom that it was hard because he always involved his mother, but she had very wise words: ‘Don’t get angry. Realize that he is a good son, and that will lead him to be a great husband and a great father,’ and that’s what happened."
In 37 years of marriage they have become best friends.
Doing things together such as going to Mass and getting involved in parish groups have kept that love alive every day.
"He is my partner, my best friend," said Felicia, adding that she knows that God is always present in their lives "so we will be happy for the rest of our lives."
"I am very grateful that she is my wife, the mother of my children, my partner, the person whom I can talk with, to be with her and I know that together, following God’s wishes, we will never be afraid and there will be nothing that we cannot overcome," said Manuel.
Both consider marriage sacred; it’s a commitment that couples should make for a lifetime, they said.
"If you really love somebody God is always there; there are no shadows if there is real love. Love can overcome anything!" said Felicia.
"Marriage is a very worthy experience and fidelity, confidence, and harmony are the proof that God is here with us. We always have to listen to our wives and try to make them happy," said Manuel.