First comes love, then comes marriage… 16 years ago on a warm Mother’s Day in rural Wisconsin, I took my wedding vows. And let me tell you I was a nervous wreck! I was 21 years old, 7 months pregnant, and no one from my family was in attendance. But when you know the father of your unborn child is activated and going to be deployed to a war zone, you don’t wait or hesitate. This is our story of learning to put our marriage first and why it was the best decision for our boys.
Jeremy and I talked about marriage A LOT while we were dating. We both came from divorced families and knew how hard it was for everyone involved. We would NOT go into a marriage unless we knew it was forever, and having a baby, in our minds, was NOT a reason to marry. But when we got back to our Guard Units, after our basic and advanced training, there was already talk of deployment so immediately we discussed our options. We agreed that we would get married if and only if he was activated.
The phone call came on Tuesday, May 3rd. As he hung up the phone I said “Well, are we going to take the plunge?” He said “I guess”, we moved to the couch, and immediately we both started crying. He pressed his face into my growing belly and with tears rolling down he admitted he was scared and didn’t want to leave his son.
The next five days were a whirlwind… arranging a Justice of the Peace, inviting family and friends not to mention figuring out what we were going to do once he left. Then that following Sunday, May 8th, we were married.
I had moved home to Texas once he left, to give birth to and raise our son with the support of my family around me. I wouldn’t even wish that experience on my worst enemy. I cried myself to sleep countless nights. Every time the phone rang, there was a knock at my door or a new email in my inbox it was simultaneously the scariest and happiest moment of my life.
It could be my Soldier telling me he loved me and he is ok, or it could be the activation of the phone tree alerting me of a tragedy in his company, or worse, someone telling me my Soldier would not be making it home.
The only thing that made me happy was raising our son. We looked forward to waking up every day to send his daddy pictures or videos to see how he was growing. But at night, when the house was quiet, I couldn’t help but think “How am I supposed to raise a man, when I am scared to death?” But by God’s grace, morning would come again. And with the morning a smile of pure joy.
As you can imagine, Peyton and I had a very dependent and unique bond. His needs were my purpose. I think it’s natural for all moms to feel that way about their children. And when Jeremy came home, you can imagine, there were some growing pains.
Then two more little Garcia boys came along. With Jeremy missing the newborn/baby stage with our firstborn, he clung to the other boys during that time. Most of our moods, arguments, frustrations, and even happiness rose and fell daily with our boys. We were parents and proud to be, but at night, while they slept all those arguments and all that stress was still there hurting our marriage.
One day we were at our cousin’s house discussing life and our trials, then she said “You should always put your marriage first.” Jeremy and I looked at each other like, “How have we been doing this all wrong this whole time?”
The light bulb went off, and don’t get me wrong, it dims and even burns out, but we replace it. Ultimately, the foundation for a loving home IS a husband and wife. If we are happy, united as a team, and communicate with each other, our children will only benefit from that.
If we lead by example, the boys would also be happy, be an extension of our team, and communicate with us! We try every day to put each other first, work on our marriage, and grow our love. Putting your marriage first sounds like common sense, but it wasn’t apparent to us until our cousin pointed it out.
It is so easy to get swept up into caring for our helpless children, but you can NOT allow your marriage to become helpless as a side effect. So now I challenge you…Put your marriage first. Actively engage in growing your love and relationship with your spouse. And please share with me how your children have benefited from these changes.
All my Love, Nichole
More from Nichole: How to fight depression – Don’t overcome; just feel it.