Sunday, March 29, 2009

Marital Moments Issue 28 - The "eaves" of Marriage

"Bruce Wilkinson says in his 25 plus years of counseling he has come to the conclusion that just about every marriage problem he has encountered has been the result of one or the other partners in a marriage being in violation of what he considers the most important verse in the Bible as it relates to marriage. That verse is found in Gen 2:24, which says: For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh."*

Shortly after my husband and I said our, "I do's" and left our reception we were off on the adventure of "our lives" together. We were so excited to be off in a tropical setting as man and wife. Just the two of us...

We had planned to finish our honeymoon, come back home to finish packing for a day or two and head off to another state where my husband was to undergo a training period for his new job. However, while we were in our tropical bliss, the plans were changed and we found ourselves returning to the States homeless for a month. His start date was bumped back a full 30+ days. What is a newlywed, unemployed couple to do but to move in with the in-laws? They very graciously welcomed us into their home thrilled to have more time with their son.

However comfortable, it was somewhat difficult. We were still figuring out our roles as "man & wife." The whole "cleaving" issue was a no brainer on some levels...but the "leaving" part was not happening. To my husband's parents, we were still "their son & his new bride." (Being fair to them, they were just beginning their "in law" part of their own life adventure.) He quickly fell into the familiar "son" role and I struggled to find a place where I "fit." We both felt the frustration building between us and made the decision to go on a road trip. A U. S. road tour trying to see as many of the major sights as we could while visiting various family members along the way. Not only did we create tons of wonderful memories together along the way, but we were again able to do the beginning stages of "leaving and cleaving."

However, because we physically left his parent's home, did not mean that we had properly "left and cleft" so to speak. We still dealt with residual issues each time we had disagreements, visited with each other's parents, etc.:

*It is easy when your spouse is not agreeing with you to want to invite another person into the discussion who will most likely side with you AND give you substantiated evidence for why you are correct. (Although, this can turn the person's hearts and minds against your spouse...)

*It is easy to fall into your "daughter" or "son" roles respectively when visiting with the parents leaving your spouse frustrated and floundering for their own "role." (Even if it seems to make your parents happy to have "their child" for a short time.)

*It is easy to share exciting news or life difficulties with your parents (or close friends) before even mentioning it to your spouse...and it is easy for said parents (or friends) to accidentally mention it in conversation with your spouse before you have even told them...

I am sure there could be MANY other examples, but the basic premise here is that we need to loosen other relational ties and commit to establishing and maintaining this union of marriage with our spouse. That is not to say that you have to literally move states away from all that you know and love or never visit family or friends again; it simply means that your marriage relationship/spouse needs to be placed first in your human relationships. You must "become one." Jesus said it this way in Mark 10:6-8 "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one." (NIV)

Here is a brief "test" that you can take with your spouse to get a feel for how effectively you have done these "eaves" of marriage. Keep in mind that you cannot fully cleave to your spouse until you have done the "leaving" portion...


"If you are unsure whether or not you have "left", here is a test to see where you stand. Please take this with your spouse and answer questions with a scale of 1 to 7. 1= Very False 7 = Very True Here are the questions:

1. We were successful in leaving our parents when we got married.
2. Leaving family and other close relationships has been a harmonious process for us.
3. Even though we may have problems from time to time in our marriage, we resist the temptation to run home to our parents.
4. Both of us are free from manipulation of control by our parents.
5. Neither of us has tried to force our spouse to be like one of our own parents.
6. We have established our own residence away from our parents.
7. We are not financially dependent upon either set of parents.
8. While we may enjoy frequent talks or visits with our parents, our sense of emotional well-being does not depend on such communication.

Score 48-56 = We are not having any problems and have successfully "left".
Score 8-17 = You have not left and need to talk gently to each other and parents to work out a plan to leave. Note we do not need to beat up on the parents.....instead we need to understand that you need to take the initiative and let them know what is Biblically correct IN LOVE."

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the "eaves" of marriage!


*Above quote and test taken from*


Jennifer said...

As a soon to be empty-nester - with my daughter's marriage right around the corner - this was a good reminder to me...I play a part in giving them the freedom - even the encouragement - to "leave and cleave"....thanks.

Gretchen said...

We have successfully left the nest. Sometimes I think too successfully. Since his parents are "work" for us, we sometimes neglect chances to be together. I know this isn't right, either.

Oh, balance, how i hate/seek thee.

Lelia Chealey said...

This is great. Gene had this part down as by the time we met he was independent living 1500 miles from home...he had been recruited in high school to play for Nebraska. I, on the other hand struggled with this. Still lean but am trying to lean on God and Gene not my family. Tough though.
Thanks for posting this.

Kelly's Ideas said...

Great Post! I am doing the love dare right now after 20 years of marriage.. I am now learning to love the way God intended..

Anonymous said...

Now there's an advantage to being a military family. As soon as we got married we were stationed FAR away from both of our parents. It was difficult to say good-bye to my family, but one of the best things for helping my husband and I leave and cleave.

Honey Mommy said...

What a great post!

When we got married my husbands parents said we could move into the house next door (that they own). Even though not paying rent would have been nice, I said No Way.

Best decision we ever made! It allowed us to rely on each other much more!

KATE said...

Hey Shanda - I was just thinking of you when I got your email. This is a good marriage post. For some reason, marriage has been a hard thing for me. And our marriage has definitely seen its rough days. I think we're in some right now. A lot of our problems have gotten worse since we moved back to my hometown after living a million miles away for so many years. Because we rarely saw them and because he didn't really know them at the time, my husband thought I was crazy when I told him to wait and see the problems we'd have with my parents once we lived close to them.
He now believes me. Ha. But we definitely aren't short of opportunities for personal growth.

Anonymous said...

Reading this post left me feeling rather sad for couples who have to deal with issues of clinging, manipulative parents and needy, self-centered, insecure marital partners.

Perhaps I have simply been blessed with in-laws who are more wonderful than many, as well as a spouse who was already emotionally and financially independent when we met, but it has never been necessary to compete with my in-laws for the love, affection, and total support of my husband. The presence of our parents, their wisdom, and advice when asked for, has added in only positive ways to the fullness of our marriage. The Bible also says, "Honor thy father and mother." I would not have the respect that I do for my husband if he demonstrated anything less.