“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” This scripture is often recited at weddings. It deals with our need to leave our families of origin and to become one with our spouse.
Through the years I have worked with many couples who have challenges with this aspect of marriage. Sometimes it is the spouse who is having a hard time doing the leaving, sometimes it is the father or mother who is having a hard time letting their adult child go. Regardless the end result is the same, havoc on the marriage.
There is a reason scripture admonishes us to leave father and mother and to hold fast to our spouse. We live with our family of origin for a season, but we are to marry for life. This does not mean that we don’t honor, respect and spend time with our family. Leaving your parents does not mean ignoring them or not spending any time with them. Leaving your parents means recognizing that your marriage created a new family and that this new family must be a higher priority than your previous family.
There are three areas that I frequently see couples get in trouble relationally with their parents.
- First, when one spouse shares too many details of marital conflict with his or her parents. This creates a situation where spouses feel betrayed and parents are forced to take sides.
- Secondly, when one spouse looks to their parent, not their spouse, to get his or her emotional needs met.
- And finally, when one spouse relies too heavily on the parents to help in decision-making.
If these boundaries are skewed, it creates conflict in the marriage. Both husband and wife must leave home in numerous ways. They must leave home physically, relationally, emotionally and financially. When there is good news at work it should be shared with your spouse first, and not your parent. If you need to process a major decision, it should be discussed with your spouse before calling a parent.
Newlyweds do not need to call or text home every day to debrief the day’s happenings. If you have gotten sideways on this marital principle, make the decision today that you are going to begin to work on healthier boundaries for your marriage. Have a discussion with your spouse about the need to make your marriage a higher priority. You may have to have a difficult discussion with your parents or in-laws. Have the discussion together and have it in love.