Cleaving Rather than Leaving – MM #167

Cleaving - Assumptions - Affairs No Love Leaving Dollar photo _10120398.jpgSome spouses set themselves up for leaving their marriages because they never properly “cleaved” to their spouse After they married. They forget the biblical passages that refer to cleaving and leaving.

The Bible says in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” As author Dennis Rainey says of this verse,

“The word, ‘cleave,’ in the Hebrew language means to literally ‘stick like glue.’ It means to cling. Perhaps a modern-day illustration would be to take two metals or objects and super-glue or weld them together to become inseparable — bonded together.

“That’s what God wants us to do in the marriage relationship. He wants us to leave our father and mother. He wants us to forsake dependence upon them, and He wants us to turn to another person, our spouse, and be committed to one another for a lifetime.”

In this message, we’re going to look at the subject of leaving and cleaving from a variety of sources, to gain a better understanding of what we commit to when we marry. Even if you’ve been married 50 years, you can still back up and do things right if haven’t up until now. Each day can bring a new beginning.

Leaving then Cleaving

On the subject of leaving and cleaving, from the web site,

“What does this leaving and cleaving look like in daily life? It means that we no longer ‘lean’ on our parents, but on each other. It means that we do not allow parents to dominate our lives. We show them respect by listening to their ideas or suggestions, but we make our own decisions.

“We do not run to them with a list of our spouse’s failures. Parents are not in the best position to be our counselor. Leaving means that we seek to be financially independent from our parents as soon as possible. We are grateful for their contribution to our lives, but now we want to make our own way. Leaving means that we build upon the foundation which they have given us.”

But It’s Not Easy

From the web site, from the article “Leaving and Cleaving is Not Easy”:

“After we get married, if we still cling on to our family of origin and are not willing to let go, it will not be easy for us to cling on to our spouse as strongly as we should! If our parents cling on to us and will not ‘release’ us to our spouse, then also there will be problems. When our children form their families and we will not allow them to ‘leave’ us and cling on to their spouses, then we will be the ones creating problems!

“What does ‘leaving’ mean? It does not mean we make sharp cuts in our relationships so that we have nothing more to do with the other family. We don’t want to cut off relationships. Rather, what we need to do is to essentially shift our loyalty.

“For example, when we ‘leave’ our family of origin we move the priority of relationship from our parents, siblings, and extended family, to our spouse and also to our children. Then we can cling to our spouse with full commitment and loyalty. If ever there comes a clash of interests, we will stand with our spouse and children rather than with our family of origin. To continue along in the same direction, when our children get married we’ll encourage them to move their priorities to their spouses rather than cling to us.”

A Different Take

And here’s a different take on this issue from the article, “‘Leaving and Cleaving.” It centers on the Bible verse, Deuteronomy 24:5:

When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war. Neither shall he be charged with any business. But he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife, which he has taken.

“The Bible doesn’t say that a man is obligated to cheer up his parents, does it? Nor is the bride to be distracted by parental feelings. Scripture says that, as a newlywed, the groom shouldn’t be charged with ANY business —including yours, dear mother! Including yours, dear mother-in-law! Mind your own business so your son or son-in-law can mind his! His business is to cheer up his new wife. Don’t interfere with his God given assignment.

“To charge the bridegroom with YOUR business is to interfere with God’s business of building unity in their marriage! Do you realize that if a man does not come to understand his wife as he should and honor her as God says he is to do, his prayer life is hindered? Do you want to be responsible for slowing down your son or son-in-law’s understanding of his wife and mess up his prayer life?! I hope not…”

Bonding and Gluing

From the article, “God’s Design for Building Your Marriage,” this quote on this subject gives the following insight:

“The word ‘cleave’ (KJV) or ‘unites with’ (NET) involves a bonding together. It’s much like gluing two things. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament gives synonyms for the Hebrew word: ‘cling to, stick to, stick with, join to.’

“When something breaks at our house, my husband often uses super glue to bond the pieces together. In fact, the bond is so strong that he has to be careful not to get the glue on his hand. If he does, he will become permanently attached to it as well! What insights does this give you about oneness? Cleave ‘carries the sense of clinging to someone in affection and loyalty.’

“We need to consider what it means to ‘cleave’ so that we can better understand what it means to ‘leave.’ Leave involves more than distance. It is an attitude of the heart. God’s plan for marriage involves oneness. In order for two to become one, they cannot still be attached to anyone else, parents or siblings or friends. They cannot cleave unless they leave their family of origin. There are women who have left their homes in distance but not emotionally or financially. There are women (and men) who live next door to their parents and yet have ‘left’ them.


“Why is it impossible for a woman to cleave to, or become one with a husband without leaving her family? (The same goes for the husband cleaving to and becoming one with his wife without leaving his family.)

“Please understand that this does not mean that you cannot love your family and talk to them. However, there is a point at which you can be attached to them so strongly that you fail to leave as you should. Sometimes it is the parents who cannot let the child leave. However, notice that the Bible clearly calls the child to leave, not the parents to force them out. The responsibility is upon you to make the break from your home. You may need to help them let go.”

Move Away?

From “Strengthening Your Marriage” by Wayne Mack, as posted on, we’re told what leaving “does not mean”:

“It does not mean that you must make a move away from the vicinity in which your parents live. Living too close to parents at the beginning of a marriage may make it more difficult to leave. But it is possible to leave your father and mother and still live next door. Conversely, it is possible to live a thousand miles away from your parents and not leave them. In fact, you may not have left your parents even though they are dead.”

However, what it DOES mean is:

“Once you are married there is to be a fundamental change in your relationship with your parents. Leaving your parents means: The husband-wife relationship is now the priority relationship. Your relationship with your parents (or anyone else) must now take a back seat to your relationship with your spouse. In fact, all other relationships must now be secondary.

“It means that you are more concerned about your spouse’s ideas, opinions, and directives than you are of your parents (or anyone else). Sometimes there is a power struggle between the two sets of parents. A husband and wife must be careful that they do not allow the parents to manipulate them.”

Amen! In the next message, we’ll explore more on the subject of leaving and cleaving. The emphasis will be on cleaving, and what it means and doesn’t mean. We hope this will help you in your marriage (and you will pass this information along to others who could benefit, as well).

Cindy and Steve Wright

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Filed under: Marriage Messages

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22 responses to “Cleaving Rather than Leaving – MM #167

  1. My husband had a hemorrhagic stroke. Ever since he came home, my mother in law calls meetings separately from the wives; there are two other sons, she puts money in our account and tells him only, the house we own we couldn’t afford and they paid off our car so he could get it. Now that he is sick I had to take an unpaid leave of absence and we still can’t afford this house or to live in California.

    We decided to sell and move to Texas, and they call everyday back to back trying to get him not to move. The house is next door to them and I’m trying to be positive but I’m so stressed. They called him and his brothers for a meeting without us, the wives, and said they’re leaving their estate to their sons and grandchildren. That’s fine but everything should be discussed with us; we are one with our husbands or I thought that’s what we should be. It’s causing a strain on our already difficult situation.

    How do I cope with this? I do my devotions, and I know God heard me, but I feel like we have been under a curse for 22 years because my husband can’t cut the apron strings. Now in his condition it’s worse because his understanding isn’t so good all the time. He has worked for his families business our entire marriage so I have to now work to secure stability for us while I’m young enough to do so. He didn’t want me to work and I submitted to his request raised our kids. Now they are young adults and I don’t want to burden them. I want them to marry and have their own lives, not worry about us.