Leaving Parents To Cleave To Your Spouse

Leaving Parents to Leave and cleave married AdobeStock_19723481The following are some quotes on the issue of leaving parents (on the husband and wife’s part) to cleave to your spouse. They come from a radio interview. It is part of an eight part radio interview series, which was put together by the ministry of Family Life Today. It is titled, “Becoming One: God’s Blueprints for Marriage.” Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine are the hosts.

In the parts of the interviews that we will be sharing, Dennis Rainey lays the groundwork with the following scriptures:

For this cause, a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh, and the man and his wife were both naked, and they were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:24-25)

In the beginning part of this interview Bob Lepine makes the following statement:

I was reading recently in Dr. Dan Allender’s book, “Intimate Allies,” and he made the statement that, in his experience, he could trace 90% of marital discord back to a failure to leave.

Concerning Leaving Parents, Dennis replies:

“Most couples don’t think they’ve failed to leave. Yet if they could see what is trailing behind them as they walk out the church, they’d see ‘apron strings’ still tied to a man and a woman by their parents. These are people who love and care about them, but simply don’t know how to let them leave. It’s awkward because there is a new union formed there. This is a new relationship that is an entity, and it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be a couple who are one, who are in the process of forging a marriage relationship.

“I was reading in Tim Kimmel’s book, ‘Powerful Personalities,’ describing different personality types and how different people try to control others through aggressive or passive behavior and how we can manipulate each other. A young couple that is really not prepared properly to establish this new marriage relationship —if they’re not careful, will be controlled by either his or her parents or find themselves in between two sets of parents trying to establish this relationship. The word ‘leave’ from the biblical text means to ‘forsake dependence upon.’ It means to turn your allegiance away from your parents toward your spouse.

“We do that in such a way that honors our parents but that sends a clear signal that this is a new relationship that must be established. Sometimes parents don’t realize that this command in Genesis 2: 24 is as much a command to the parents as it is to the couple who are getting married. It’s the wise parents that can understand the dynamics that a young couple is under as they try to forge the identity of a new marriage in the midst of two competing families.”

More so, on Leaving Parents, Dennis commented:

“It’s hard to turn your back on the emotional giving, sharing, and development that you’ve poured into this daughter or this son’s life to encourage them to leave. It doesn’t mean you lose the relationship, though. It means, in essence, you get one back that’s different, that has different parameters. You shouldn’t be controlling them as a young adult, anyway.

“A lot of parents need to realize you need to let your son or daughter grow up. Let them become a mature adult and relate to them more as a peer and less as a child. But some of our parents simply can’t get beyond that. In some situations, we represent the only real relationship that our parents have. They don’t have a vital marriage, and the only real relationships they have are with their children. For that reason, they simply can’t or won’t allow them to leave.”

Here’s another important point Dennis made on Leaving Parents:

“There are three areas you can run a test on to see how you’ve done in leaving your father and mother. The first is emotional. Have you left your parents’ emotional control of your life? Are you still looking to them for support, for encouragement, and for their approval?

“I remember, in my immaturity as a young man, sharing with my mom a mistake that Barbara had made in our marriage. It was a minor mistake. Barbara had hurt me, but I shared it with my mom, and it was as though I had shared this grievous error, because my mother came running over to me. And although she didn’t say these words verbally, what I felt was, ‘I knew that she couldn’t be the woman that you really needed as my son.'”

A Valuable Lesson on Leaving Parents

“I was almost 25 years old, so she had 24 years practice caring for me as her son. But what she was doing was rushing in to care for me. And in future conversations with my mom, the mistake that Barbara made would be brought up by her. I learned a valuable lesson. Be careful, as a couple, what you share with your parents of how your spouse has disappointed or hurt you. Your parents don’t have near the grace to give your spouse that you have. You’re their son or their daughter that they will naturally move to protect. They’ve been trained to do that for years.

“I don’t condemn my mom for her protective instincts. I just recognize that they’re there. But I realized at that point I couldn’t share those disappointments with my mom. It would simply play to a weakness in her life. As a result, it would set Barbara up to be a failure in my mom’s eyes.”

Here’s Another Point Dennis made on Leaving Parents:

“If your parents are trying to manipulate you emotionally, what you have to do is ask your spouse to help you get beyond this. Build some boundaries around your lives, around the holidays. Determine how long you’re going to go and when you’re going to go. Also determine whose house you’re going to go to for that first Christmas or that second Christmas or successive Christmases. Use the marriage relationship that God has given you to protect one another from being manipulated or being taken advantage of or from emotionally being clobbered by parents.

“Your spouse ought to be that person you cleave to and depend upon to really help you get free of your parents and establish your own identity as a couple.”

Dennis talks about financial decisions made apart from parents (which is quite wise) but then he goes onto “decision-making.” It’s another aspect of leaving parents, which is important.

Dennis makes the point:

“This could include the spiritual dimension of life as well —just getting advice from parents. Parents need to give advice. I think we need to go back to them for counsel and for wisdom. But the decision needs to be yours as a couple. You need to share the weight of that decision praying together and making your decision as a couple.

“That doesn’t mean you wouldn’t do what they say. It just means that you can’t give them power over your lives…”

Here are a few additional thoughts Dennis shares that are very important:

“I’ve got three quick thoughts for you as you evaluate as a couple what you’ve done in leaving your father and mother. First of all, I’d encourage you to discuss, as a couple, have you left? Each of you —have you left emotionally, financially, and for direction or decision-making? Secondly, if you’ve got some problems there, I encourage you to pray together, as a couple, for a solution. And, third, honor your parents but take action. Set a course for your marriage and take control of the future by making decisions that will create health and spiritual vitality in your marriage.”

And then, here are a few quotes that we want to particularly point out from the radio program, “Leaving Part 2.”

In this interview, Dennis Rainey is asked what a couple should do if the parents don’t want their grown “children” to leave.

To this he replied:

“You can’t make that decision for your parents. You can’t force them to let you leave. All you can do is leave. Leave your need for approval from them and turn to your spouse and let that person be the one that you cleave to and commit to, to experience approval and appreciation and encouragement that God intended in the marriage relationship.

“Many times I’ve used the illustration of the husband having a set of blueprints and the wife having a set of blueprints, and the problem when their blueprints only overlap at points. If a husband and a wife both have the same set of blueprints, and they’re both coming at their marriage relationship from the Scripture, they’re going to be building their marriage as God designed it.

We’re Told in the Bible Concerning Leaving Parents

“Genesis, chapter 2 gives us the panoramic view of the marriage relationship from God’s perspective. In verses 24 and 25 He says, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and they were not ashamed.'”

“I believe every marital problem can be traced to a failure to leave, a failure to cleave, or a failure to really cultivate that oneness of flesh. If we understand these blueprints in the Book of Genesis, it will help us, as a couple, have our marriage set in the right direction.”

Later in the interview Dennis Rainey refers to Genesis 2:24 again and explains why God wants the couple to “leave” their parents.

He said:

“God wants a man and a woman to become one. It’s the marriage relationship that causes him to leave his father and his mother. The word ‘leave’ here means to ‘forsake dependence upon.’ It means we no longer look to our parents for approval, support, or for encouragement. We leave one sphere of influence and move to another sphere of influence.”

In this interview, Bob Lepine asks Dennis how this couple can prepare their parents. Is there anything they can do before the wedding to prepare them on the issue of leaving parents in priority?

To this Dennis replied:

“They are in an enviable position of being able to establish the leaving to occur in the right way. They can begin to spend time with their parents and let them know that although they’re leaving them to establish this new union. Both of them are still are going to be their son or daughter, and they want a relationship. But they can send signals to the parents to let them know that their allegiance is switching. It’s established that they’re going to be committed to this new person that they’re making a covenant within the marriage ceremony.

“Parents need their sons and daughters to help them in this process. It’s difficult. Emotionally, parents don’t want to give up the investment that’s taken place over 18 or more years. It’s the wise person who can understand those dynamics. Maybe they can even talk about it with their mom or dad. Let them know that you know it may be a struggle.

Sad, But True Concerning Leaving Parents and Others

“It may be that the son or daughter is the only real relationship they have. They may not have any other relationships. They may be in a dead marriage. It’s possible, they may not be alive spiritually. They may not be plugged into a good church where they have their relationship needs met by other Christians. And so for them to say goodbye to a son or daughter who is getting married, is to cut themselves off from a living hope. It’s at that point that we need to give our parents a gift of compassion. It’s the gift of looking at your parents through the eyes of Christ. How can I so minister to them and encourage them that it will make this process of leaving palatable for all concerned?”

Bob asked Dennis:

“Let’s assume that the wedding has already taken place, and it’s 5 years into the marriage, and couples are beginning to look at one another saying, “Is this an issue for us? Maybe we haven’t done a good job of establishing our leaving from our parents.”

To that, Dennis replied:

“I think the process really begins when you realize that you haven’t left, and you haven’t done it properly. If you recognize that that’s true, then at that point you can begin to take some steps that will breathe some health into your own marriage but also into your relationship with your parents.

Some Parents Have a Hard Time Accepting This

“…Yes, there are certain parents who are manipulators, who are controllers, and they have such a pattern of controlling that they simply can’t allow their child to leave. I was reading in Tim Kimmel’s book, ‘Powerful Personalities,’ about three kinds of personality types. One is the aggressive controlling type; a second kind is a passive manipulator, and a third one is a combination of the two —a passive-aggressive controller. Tim really does a great job of explaining how you can have your life controlled by another person. But he explains how you can break free from that control.

“The first step in dealing with this as a married couple is beginning by honoring your parents. I think any leaving of your parents can be difficult. It could be done at the wedding ceremony for a couple who’s getting married where you honor the parents during the ceremony. Or it could be a married couple who have been married five years, 10 years, or more. There are ways to leave your mother and father and still bring honor to them.”

All of this gives you a preview of some important points concerning biblically leaving, cleaving, and “becoming one.”

I GREATLY encourage you to listen to or read the rest of the interviews. Please prayerfully consider what is said here because the advice given is golden. It’s very scriptural and wise concerning the important principle of leaving parents and family. You can do so by going to the Family Today web site. Ask for the 2-part series titled, “Becoming One: God’s Blueprints for Marriage” at Familylife.com.

— ALSO —

The following Family Life Today article is written by Mary May Larmoyeux. In it, she gives “ten ideas for dealing with a wife who won’t leave or cleave”:

MARRIED TO DADDY’S LITTLE GIRL

Concerning leaving parents and extended family after marriage, here’s some good advice to prayerfully consider:

“When you married and established a new home, you departed from your old ways. You didn’t leave your first home in terms of love or communication. But you did leave in terms of authority and priority. The most important human relationship now is the one you have with your husband or wife. More than that, your marriage is a living, breathing institution with a life of its own. It’s a covenant that is a symbol of God’s love for the church, His body of believers in Jesus Christ.” (Dr Randy Carlson)

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Filed under: Dealing with In Laws & Parents

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127 responses to “Leaving Parents To Cleave To Your Spouse

  1. (USA) I empathize with others here on this page who have issues because of their spouse not letting go of their family to be only with the person they married. My wife and I have have been married for almost 10 years. I have tried to be as good a husband as I can be. Lord knows I am flawed beyond belief. She has in many, many ways been a great wife.

    The one thing in our lives that has caused turmoil though is that she has never been able to leave her family. When we married I moved across the state to be with her, as her family lived close by and she wanted to be near them. I left my family behind to start a life with her. I have tried with great diligence to get to know her family and be on good terms with them. Needless to say though there has been friction between us largely because they were and are involved in our lives to a larger extent than they should be.

    My wife has always gone to them even with things in our marriage, while they often intended well they also stepped on my role as the husband. I would express this to her and still it did not make things better and at times made them worse. A few years ago my wife contracted a terminal illness which she is fighting now. I do everything I can to be a supportive husband because I love her like no other in this world. She is all I have. Her family is also involved again to a very high degree and at times she stays with them for several days in a row after returning from the hospital. It causes me great angst because I want to be with her every opportunity but I can’t be at her parents because the friction gets to be too great and it seems like when we are together as a group they try to see if the can get me to say something.

    I believe in God but I have not been overly religious in my life even though I come from a family who was. Lately though I find I pray a lot more so that God gives me an answer on how to over come this and get along more with her family strictly for my wife’s sake.

    I can say this with great certainty. If you know that your potential spouse has a deep attachment to their family it is best to communicate concerns because it can later in the marriage affect the relationship in a very negative way.

  2. (AUSTRALIA) I so feel where you are coming from. My husband and I have been together for 16 years. When we first met we had wonderful plans for our future together, including moving interstate for a better quality of life for our children. Unfortunately we have gone no where as my other half’s family has their own business and has made it very hard for him to leave, even to the point of telling him the business wouldn’t survive without him and he can’t just walk away from it.

    He even tried to start his own business but got no support from them, only guilt. His mother is always changing his mind and putting doubt into his ideas. She uses emotional black mail all the time, and of course money.

    I’m starting to become resentful towards her and avoid any contact outside family events. And in the last few years (since 2009) I have suffered from anxiety and depression and now have to take a pill every day. I feel like we have put our lives on hold and are just making everybody’s dreams except ours, come true. I feel sad and frustrated all the time. I have stood by my man and supported all his decisions, but I feel it’s time to put ours first. We only have one son left at home and are in our early 40’s. I feel like I’m still waiting to start our lives.

    How do I get though to my sole mate that he can’t keep putting us on hold for someone who has chosen her life path? I don’t know if my mental health will be any good in the next few years, so we may never get to live our life. I’m currently watching our forever home in one of the most wonderful places in Australia get sold because my mother in law wants another 2 years of my husband’s life. I give up. :(

    1. (USA) I honestly do not know what to say that would be of help because my situation is similar in some ways. I keep praying hoping God will give me an answer that will allow me to stay strong and support my wife in a loving way in her time of need.

      I do my best to not think about how her family is involved. I too have not had many dealings with my wife’s family save for family events and those are rare because I don’t like friction. It upsets my wife because she wants me at all of them. I just don’t know what the answer is. I hope that God can give you the answer you need in your life to make things right with your husband.

  3. (USA) My husband wants us to move in with his parents, son, daughter in law and grandson, so seven people in one 3 bedroom house with 2 bathrooms. I understand my husband promised to take care of his parents but they are healthy and don’t need us yet and the son and his family need to move out and become their own family. So my husband says he is going and I say I am NOT. I guess my marriage is over.

  4. (USA) My wife came back from my chemo and a prognosis that her condition is worse than before. She told me she wanted to stay with her family so she can spend more time with them. This has caused me more heartache because I love her so and want time with my wife at our home. It distresses me because I feel like I am being robbed of this time with my spouse by her family. It hurts me so much. I was always taught that your life was with your spouse once you married.

    1. (CANADA) Ron, at this point, with the limited time you have left with your wife, it is unlikely you will be able to convince her to “see the light”, so to speak, regarding the relationship dynamics. I would recommend going to her parents, and spending the time with her, and biting your lip with respect to the things that bother you. At the very least, you get more time (I know it is not alone), and you make her happy in her remaining time. It is “not right” what is happening, but it is better to be with your precious wife, than to be alone at home.

  5. (NIGERIA) Please help. My marriage is six years, my husband’s parents have controlled this marriage in many ways, choosing baby names etc. The worse is that my husband’s siblings (four in number aged 30 and above) are living with us. There is no privacy. We moved from the dead church where we wedded to a Bible-believing church and his parents demanded we go back. To my surprise he did so immediately leaving me and my kids to go to the new church.

    His sibling fought me on Christmas Eve, a few days after I had a new baby and he said nothing. Yesterday he beat me up because I told him I am no longer comfortable with his family’s interference in the marriage. He told me I could pack and leave –that I cannot come between him and his family. I felt very bad and insulted him. I wish I had no kids. I would have gone for a divorce instead of living as a second class citizen with him.

  6. (USA) I have read this article and I really enjoyed it. I have a problem at home. We had a family feud going on with our son’s wives and it has escalated to our marriage. Both our daughters-in-law were pregnant, we were all excited and talking to each other and it was a joy to my heart; but then one lost her baby and the other one went on. My son who lost the baby, asked me to tell his brother’s wife that they didn’t want to see her or see pictures of the baby when he was born. Against my best judgement, I called and told her. She was hurt because she felt they should have told her themselves instead of using me. (How right she was!). Its almost a year later and things have escalated to the point that our son’s wife decided to stop talking to everyone except my husband.

    I told my husband to stay out of it and give them the space they need without him being the third person because he can’t be neutral with them to fix or bring us together. He did not listen, he said he (not us) lost a child already and refuses to lose another child. Long story short, our other son and wife feel as if he’s taking sides because things have come out as gossip between our two sons, wives, and mutual friends. Now our son’s wife is expecting again and things seems to be going fine PTL! But because she felt like I took sides with my other daughter-in-law, I can’t be a part of this baby. As God is my witness, I felt from the beginning of all this mess that God was speaking about pride and unforgiveness from both my son and daughter-in-law towards my other daughter-in-law, blaming the whole thing on her until my other son took over and told his brother he had enough of his name-calling and blame games on his wife.

    Things escalated between them and they’re no longer speaking. My other son has always been the apple of my husband’s eye, he never disciplined him, and spoiled him rotten while the other kids saw this. His wife is now texting my husband often, even though I have asked him to please stop because he is just enabling them feel justified by him while we are the outcasts, haters, manipulators, and fake Christians. I’ve taken the worst, my son has called me names I couldn’t ever imagine being called and my husband never defended me before my son or his wife. I saw a text my son’s wife sent him where she said “Your life sucks? Who are these people? You are more than welcome to come to us if you need it?” I don’t know what my husbad said to her because he had deleted his complaint to her but left her response for me to see. I feel she knows how I feel about her texting and I feel it’s interfering in my relationship with my husband since he refuses to hear me out. He has made comments to them unintentionally that later come back as gossip around mutual friends. My other son told my husband whenever he talks to his brother, don’t bring them in their conversation even if they try to engage him into it.

    What do you do when your husband does not want to let his son’s marriage move on with or without us until they are the ones to decide if they want to keep us divided or not? I feel God has spoken to me about this son’s hard heart. Now his unforgiveness towards his brother, sister-in-law and me is unreal and I have repeatedly told him…none of what took place is unforgivable and to look at what has taken place and where we all are from a year before? They’re only thinking about what bad and wrong has been done to them but refuse to look at the good and hospitality shown his wife when she moved here and her apartment was not ready. I have asked that we get together and discuss this problem as adults but they’ve refused to do so. I told my husband if he didn’t stop texting my daughter-in-law, I will text her and tell her how I feel, and that I can’t stop him from our son even though he has called me unimaginable names including “satan’s daughter” all because I refuse to join his hatred for my other daughter-in-law. I have chosen to forgive all grievances already and he needs to let go and forgive her. Today I am seeking God’s word again. I was reading Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare his own Son.” I’m not 100% sure yet what it all means, but I know God hated to send His Son to die, but it was necessary for the good of all mankind. Jesus returned to His beloved Father later on. I believe our son will return and I have decided in my heart to let them go, let God deal with them as He is able, and he’ll later come back to us…his family and parents, as it ought to be.

  7. (USA) My husband and I met, not under the best of circumstances, but it did happen and we do love each other and have two beautiful boys both 5 and 8. I did get us into a financial bind way into our relationship, which we are on yr 13 now… His mother did offer to help get us out by becoming our financial adviser/ bill payer. That was about 9 yrs ago and she still has her name along with my husbands name on everything. I do get $$$ but if I need extra, I must ask, really?

    He has become so dependent on his mother taking care of everything, and we are now 40 yrs old btw, I feel like we are living in her basement or something… On the totem pole it is children, mom then me. Am I crazy to feel so insignificant in this relationship or am I only making trouble here? We talk but it ends up in an argument. I do get sassy about it but it’s because I hurt over this. I overheard him on phone telling an individual that his mother is the only one he can trust, which he of course denies. I do pray over this.

  8. (UNITED STATES) I’m constantly having problems with my mother in law. She calls my husband for everything. Keep in mind she has her own husband. I’m at work all day when I get home she is still calling him. She has no respect for me or our marriage. It makes it difficult for me to like her. My husband drops all for her. I’m not saying that he should not do things for her or them but it is getting to be too much.

    It is so bad I want to ask for a divorce a lot. She is so controlling. It is so bad he doesn’t want her to have our home number. He never says anything to her. He will just will not break the umbiblical cord. I feel so lonely at times and feel like wanting to find that someone who will respect his wife and leave his parents behind. I come first, not the parents. His mom has a way of making him feel guilty when he doesn’t do certain things. I am so darn tired of it.

  9. (NEW ZEALAND) “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

    Leaving father is the sperm, leaving mother is the egg, and he (sperm) shall cleave to his wife (egg) and they shall become ONE flesh. Marriage… and THIS marriage really is “until death do us part.”

  10. (JAMAICA) PLEASE ADVISE!! I’m a 27 yr. old married woman (been married 1 year and 6 months). I’m having difficulty dealing with my parents… in particular my mother. My immediate family is a very close knit family and my parents are also our pastors. I find my parents to be (in my opinion) manipulative. If I don’t take their advice they use scriptures saying that I’m not being obedient or saying that I’m losing my values. They are VERY involved in my marriage to the point where they know our schedules, finances, sleep styles, etc…

    I blame us (me mostly) because initially my husband and I felt guilty when we didn’t want to share info. Initially they encouraged me to let them know whenever my husband and I had an argument. They wanted full details. Thinking I was doing the right thing… and much to my husband’s displeasure… I would tell them everything. At the end of any given discussion I would return home feeling as though I was sleeping with the enemy and not my husband. He of course, felt betrayed and that he was living with a stranger who he could not confide in…. those were some rough times. At one point the word divorce came up as a result of our frustrations.

    The disrespect I face is one as blatant as this: my family comes to my apartment and I request that they remove their shoes before coming inside. My mother walks right in with her shoes on. When I gently remind her that shoes are to be left outside she ‘kisses her teeth’ dismisses me with a wave of her hand and says “I don’t want to get my feet dirty.” We would be having a heated discussion at her house and she begins to say disrespectful things such as “don’t be a jackass” etc… simply because I’m disagreeing with her. What makes matters worst is that it’s difficult for them to draw the line between pastor and parent so anytime we disagree with them or have an argument we end up hearing that we are arguing with our pastors.

    They still speak to me as though I’m a little kid and tell my husband that they will always know me better than he will. My husband doesn’t like it. She often calls him an idiot. When confronted about it, it causes an argument and my dad comes to her rescue by telling me that she is my pastor etc… No matter what we say or do to explain to them that we don’t want them that involved with or lives… or that we feel that our marriage is being disrespected… they (esp my mother) can’t see it.

    My husband also has a hard time calling them dad and mom… he just calls them pastors. In our first year of marriage the majority of our arguments were as a result of my mother’s ‘suggestions’ which were forced upon us rather than us requesting them and the fact that they knew too much about our lives. My parents’ response to this was that my husband was trying to cut me off from them and that he had no sense of family… which of course caused another argument in our marriage.

    They have made it clear that they do not see my husband as being capable of leading our marriage, and have also made it clear to him (unwittingly of course) that the reason that they do the things they do for us is really in an effort to “protect me”…

    Right now we (especially I) are at the point where there is a bitter feud between us and my parents. Just recently, as a result of a big argument I had with them (esp. my mother) over them disrespecting both myself and my husband, I was told not to come back to their house (for some reason I felt immense relief in hearing this) because they stated that I don’t respect them.

    The irony is that since this blow up and bitter non communication between us and them, we (my husband and I) have become much more close and intimate and for the first time in a year and six months are fast becoming friends and lovers once more… so one relationship is blossoming at the demise of another.

    It has gotten so bad that my siblings are now being pulled into this and it is affecting them. Just recently at a service one of my siblings presented me using my maiden name… and when I corrected them (on spot laughing) they brushed it off as though it meant nothing. To me (and my husband) this was a big deal.

    I love my parents… I really do… but their behaviour is driving me away. And the sad part is that our arguments tend to spill over in to church sessions. I don’t want to be a bad example to other church members… but it’s hard to be respectful etc. when even in public, both myself and my husband, are being disrespected -even if it is in a subtle way.

    I’m the Pastor’s daughter… yet I feel like leaving the assembly for the sake of my marriage. At this point I’m almost ready to just let them be and do a cut off. The verse that says children obey your parents… how does this relate to a now married woman? And how do you honour/respect parents that are constantly rude and disrespectful to you… even in your own home?

    Lastly… where does one draw the line between parent and pastor relationship? Would love a reply..

    1. (SA) Dear PK, My word, you are really having a difficult time! I suggest that you don’t say much to your parents but act more, as talking is always regarded as being disrespectful by parents. Why don’t you and your husband move to another church? You have seen that telling your parents about everything that goes on in your marriage causes arguments between you and your husband, therefore just don’t do it anymore. If you can move houses and live further away from your parents I would suggest that too.

      My opinion is that when you are married you are no longer under the law of your parents but you can still respectfully put boundaries otherwise you are heading for a divorce sooner then you think.

    2. Hi Pastor’s Kid, WOW! What a mess! I can see why all of this is bringing so much tension into other areas of your life –its too complicated. There’s too much overlapping of “roles” going on. I agree with Mel that if there is ANY way that you can find another church to move to, it could help. Your parents will be hurt… yes. I’m pretty sure they would take that posture. But hopefully, you and your husband can eventually get through to them that you both need to do this for reasons that you just can’t go into (you don’t need to tell them what those reasons are because they wouldn’t appreciate them anyway) –that you love and respect them both but you need to do this. And stand firm on that. Don’t shift in your stand or feel you need to explain everything. This is a marriage decision you both are making.

      I don’t think that you need to “cut them off” but rather, you need to break free, at least on this one aspect of your lives. There’s too much hurting going on and even innocent gestures will get thrown in as suspect as this continues to to go along. It’s going to get more and more complicated (with siblings being dragged in, as well) as time goes on if you don’t do something to stop this crazy cycle.

      Please, please read through the quotes and the articles in the “Dealing with Parents” and “In Laws” topics –you and your husband together, if possible. Pray, talk, decide together, stand strong (and yet, give grace and don’t be cruel in how you do this). I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it, if you can. You and your husband figure out what church you could visit and quietly do so. I would keep doing that until you figure out which church will work for you. And THEN (if you haven’t been found out by then by your family) tell your parents that as a married woman –as a married couple, you need to do this. Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:31; Matthew 19:5-6; and Mark 10:7 are scriptures that will back up this decision.

      In the future, if you parents talk disrespectfully to you, then in meekness (which is defined as “strength under control”) ask them to please treat you with respect as a married woman. Tell them you need that and if they can’t give that to you, it will cause you to distance yourself more and more in the future, which you don’t want to do because you love them.

      Again, this is all so complicated. But if you can find a way to distance yourself by going to another church, it may help. Even moving a bit of distance away could work, if it’s possible. Some type of separation (“leaving”) needs to happen. Hopefully, it doesn’t have to be a dramatic, severe one, so you can still be together sometimes, just not so much. I have no doubt that your parents love you and you love your parents. But for some reason, the dynamics of all of this closeness has gone into a bad direction and it needs to have a course correction happen or else permanent damage will be done.

      You can “leave and cleave” and still honor your parents. But the type of “honor” you give your parents, now that you’re married, needs to change because your husband is now your primary human relationship, with your parents taking a back seat (even though they’re resistant to this). It’s the right thing to do. I hope you and your husband find a way to unite and work this out for the betterment of your relationship with each other and the relationship you have with your parents and siblings and the other church members. Surely, they must sense the tension and it puts them into awkward positions, as well. I pray for all of you and hope for all of you that you’re able to do this in the least painful way as possible –so your future times together are loving and reveal the love of Christ in every way. If the enemy of our faith can get us to fight with each other, we’re not fighting him. That needs to change. Giving yourselves a bit more space may give God’s love more of an opportunity to flow between all of you.

      1. (JAMAICA) Thank you both for your replies! They have helped us very much. As a result, we are now in the process of reconcilliation. And, on our side: honouring my parents. Keep us in your prayers! God Bless!!

    3. Dear Pastor’s Kid, You should check out my wife’s book, You Can Be a Happy Wife: A Look at the Wife’s Role by Rebekah Prewitt. We have faced some of the things that you have listed in your comment. It will be a tremendous help to you in dealing with your parents. As for us, I was the PK. When we were led by God to leave my parent’s church, there was some significant friction. Possibly our experiences and the decisions that the Lord helped us make will be of value for you and your husband.

  11. (USA) I never thought in a million years that I would be posting in response to an article such as this, but here I am. I am very newly married (almost 5 months) and cannot say how much of a blessing it was to come across the article and read through other people’s comments. It’s always nice to know you’re not alone/crazy for feeling the way you do. I wasn’t aware of what “leave and cleave” really meant until I came across Dr. Allender’s website and sign-uped for his Intimate Mystery Conference and then I stumbled upon this article, which references him as well.

    I would really appreciate any advice… I have spent days crying and agonizing and praying over this and have tried talking to my husband, but he doesn’t seem to understand. He is the oldest of three with two younger sisters and his parents are still married. His mother seems to find fulfillment solely in her children (she’s actually said that her children are the most important thing in her life above anything else in the world), and subsequently the middle sister seems to find hers in her older brother, my husband (her very best friend in the whole world).

    I have always known my husband was close with his family, but am starting to see it have negative consequences now that we are married (assuming leave and cleave here). I feel like he talks to his mom and sister all the time, not about our marriage, but everything else under the sun and it feels like he talks more openly with them than me -not to mention they ask him about every little detail in his/our life. It makes me feel like they know everything about our lives and that I am not the most important and it makes it feel like I am almost in competition with them for his love and affection (although he assures me I’m not, I don’t feel that way).

    Further, they both have said/done some things to hurt me and while I forgive them, I feel like my husband won’t stick up for me as his wife, for fear of upsetting his mom/sister (he says it’s not his place to step in). His mom makes him/us feel guilty if we can’t attend every single family event and makes it an expectation for us to be at everything and offers to pay when we say we can’t afford flights as yet another way of controlling the situation (I think). She says she needs for all of us to be close and for us (as in all of us) to be a family. I feel like my husband and I aren’t even our OWN family yet. And for some reason my husband doesn’t see that we haven’t even built our family bond yet.

    It just feels like my opinion on what is important is less important to him than his mother’s opinion on what’s important. I feel like she is passively manipulating him and controlling him and he’s unable to say no to her or see what’s actually going on. His sister does the exact same thing and wedges herself into our life creating a rift between my husband and I. It’s even more difficult because we’re all so close in age (she’s 4 years younger than us). I’ve tried talking with him about it, but he gets defensive. I am completely beside myself and don’t know what to do. I’m hoping the marriage conference and sharing this article and others I found will hopefully help. It’s certainly opened my eyes.

    I would really appreciate any advice or help anyone on here could give me… I never though being newly married would be this tough! I hope it will get better, I just don’t know if he will ever leave his mom and sister or more so that they will ever let him go! And I am so worried it is going to ruin our marriage. Please send prayers our way! God Bless.

    1. Sarah, I sooo feel for you! Let me see if I may help a bit from what I’ve learned lately by reading quite a bit on “leaving & cleaving”. First off, from what I have read, God said this pertaining to Adam & Eve first, knowing we would follow suit, (not me…you, I am not married), but at that time, because he said that man was not meant to be alone.

      When you marry, there becomes a new order of importance of the people in your life. 1) God comes first, as He should always in everything you do, absolutely everything. He is everything. Without him, nothing is possible, except of course, evil. And with Him, you can do anything through Jesus Christ, His Son. (Marriage is a covenant with God, your husband & you.) 2) Spouse comes first in human relationships. 3) Your children, when you have them, come next. 4)Your parents come next & I guess that his parents may be 4th or 5th, that would be up to you. 6) Siblings. 7) Extended family & friends. Don’t quote me on my memory, but God comes first before ANYONE else!

      You may already know all this, but since you didn’t say whether you, your hubby or his family were Christian or not, now you know. I am assuming you must be if you’ve heard somewhere of “leaving & cleaving”. If his family is Christian, you should be able to tell in the way they act. It’s great they are close & loving, but Jesus said to “love one another”, as in, everyone after saying that you’re to love God with all your heart, soul, mind & strength. It’s great they include you in events, but that should be up to you & your hubby, not them! Don’t exclude your relationship with your family on the count of them either, unless you feel otherwise. If so, forgive what needs forgiven & work on repairing things before you have kids. You shouldn’t be feeling the way you do in your marriage. It’s YOUR marriage, along with your hubby & God Almighty!

      I may be saying too much, as in things you may already know, but don’t want to leave the most important things out that you need to have in your own personal life either, just in case… If you aren’t saved (born again), do it! Just pray aloud, “Lord Jesus, I am a sinner. Please forgive me of my sins. I believe that You were born of a virgin, died on the cross for my sins that could only be washed by Your blood, rose on the third day & ascended into Heaven & believe that You will come again. I make You my Lord & Savior. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.” Or in your own words, resulting pretty close.

      Get in a church, tell the preacher you want to be baptized, attend church regularly with your hubby, read the Bible & study it. Pray for wisdom & enlightenment that you will understand what God wants you to as you read it. Tell God to help you strengthen & grow your spirituality in Him & that you want to be closer to Him & plainly see Him working in your life & marriage. (Don’t forget to read the books many skip… read them all. They’re there for a reason.) Pray for guidance & direction in your marriage & the relationships it has in it that it shouldn’t. He will show, but be patient & wait for His instruction. He will never leave you, so when you think He’s not there, He is, working in your life!

      This may help too… (Matthew 19:4-5, Mark 10:6-8) The word “cleave” in this context means to be united as one flesh and to establish a new family unit, separate and distinct from the spouses’ families of origin. In order for a marriage to be healthy, that new family unit needs to take priority over the husband’s family and wive’s family. * If your husband is a Christian, he needs to understand that in failing to observe this principle, he is disobeying God’s instructions and wreaking havoc on your relationship -Focus On The Family. Focus On The Family also has a section on In-Laws that may help you. I especially learned alot from “The Apron Strings” article.

      Hang in there & spend time with God. There is hope for you! You’re a woman! You’ll be excited to read 1 Peter, I think. You have the power in you to change your man! You’ll also enjoy 1 Corinthians, it contains alot about marriage. If it’s thrown up @ you about obeying parents, it is not so anymore, as you’re married. It’s honor. But honor doesn’t mean to do as your told or suggested. Take it to heart & choose with your hubby.

      Also, if this site will let me suggest….I watch Daystar (TV) alot & would suggest you watch Joel Olsteen, Joyce Meyer, Joseph Prince & most of all, for you, Marriage Today. May God continue to bless your marriage & the health of you two & your families, for your sake. (I say this because I am in a 15 yr. & 8mo. relationship, engaged for 9 yrs. I am stalling on my 1st marriage, his 2nd. With conviction, I am wanting to marry, but am praying that God will show me His will clearly first before I enter into a marriage with an adopted, only child whose widowed mother guards his adoption (ownership) papers with her life & told him when he was younger that his Mom must’ve hated him because she had other kids after him, yet he met her once, the adoption was supposedly closed. Good news though, we live in MO, so he doesn’t need the papers she hides to find her, the state has a registry, thank God. So, even though I’m 44 & he’s 43 & unfortunately his mother is only 83, I just pray I’m married before the Rapture.)

    2. I would love to chat with you about this. It’s unreal how much my situation is so similar. Recently my man set up boundaries for first time in 9+ years and they did such unspeakable things just for that major need to control. I’m right at the end of this relationship. He never stuck up for me all these years, rather thrived on that comfort from mommy, even if he had to lie about me. I never treated him wrong and he had no stories to tell but needed his ego stroked.

      Also, she got family involved so badly that we’re keeping distance from them all now and the kids don’t see them either as result. She was the teacher to the oldest son and controlled him by making him tell her everything we do and then rewarding him for lying by bashing us so he would get material things… sick.

    3. Sarah, My goodness you are in the exact same situation as me. I have told my wife that I feel like I have to compete with her mom for her affection. Her mom holds all her children in the same regard, though I say to my wife that she needs to be this close with her father (my FIL). She says her marriage is rock solid but I completely disagree. She will pull my wife away from our family to go on some errand with her, leaving me with all of the kids. She invites herself on our family vacations, and I think it’s a way to get back at me because she knows I don’t like it. She tells my wife that I’m tearing their relationship apart, but I thought when we said, “I do,” that sort of already took care of that. Apparently it didn’t because I think of her as a “smother-in-law”. She is just ALWAYS there. I pray for you because your situation is like a mirror image of mine.

      1. Hi Charles, I just came across this your more recent text after answering your earlier note (July 13, 2016 at 3:02 pm). Cindy has some really good points, and I too have been married for a long time… which means of course in-laws :) I hope our comments help…

        It’s hard to know whether your wife just doesn’t know how to deal with her mother, but basically wants her mother to take more distance from your family, or whether your wife is more under your mother’s thumb and is agreeing with your MIL’s comment that you are tearing their (MIL’s and your wife’s) relationship apart. What would you say?

        When you and your wife said “I do,” it meant that you two became a family unit in your own right. Both sets of parents, friends, your and your wife’s siblings, etc. are outside of your family unit. Clearly your MIL is overstepping her bounds. You and your wife need to close ranks and come to an agreement about boundaries, as has already been said earlier. Cindy’s comments re. the intiative then coming from your wife to her mother, rather than from you in the beginning are, of course, right on target.

        Ah well…. enough for now. I guess I really feel for your situation, and other situations here in this section as well. Hope you read all the input, and that it helps… Take care, WP (Work in Progress)

        1. Thanks for the advice…I still feel like my MIL is controlling our family because she gets mad with my wife when she tells her we want to find a new church. I told my wife that us going to the same church is another form of control for her. Interestingly enough my wife was the one who had the idea to switch churches, but she has some attachment to the other members. I think it’s an attachment to one person in particular (of course you know who). Her mom still undermines our parenting abilities and offers much unsolicited advice. She even gets upset when we don’t do things her way with our own children.

          My wife has had a talk with the three of us in a room, laying out some of the issues. The number of calls per day slowed down but on some days they still get excessive. I am certain that what I said in a previous post about my MIL fostering a stronger relationship with her children rather than with her husband is accurate, as it is clear and evident with each passing day. She still feels she has to constantly be in the picture because her grandkids won’t want to spend time with her.

          Correct me if I am wrong, but won’t the excessive calls and visits and intruding on our vacations have that same result? “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” certainly is a strange concept to her. Ironically her MIL was the type to stay out of her business… I can’t understand why she can’t give us that same respect and stay out of affairs that don’t involve her.

  12. (UNITED STATES) VERY good read. Extremely helpful with keeping notice on the boundaries one must set even before the married life begins. Preparation preparation preparation. Communication communication communication.

  13. (CANADA) Please help!!! I have been married for a year and a half but we have been together for 4 years. My mother and I are very close. Ever since I was a child she was my best friend. My dad was very abusive for years and my mom always found comfort talking to me; she considers me her best friend. My husband and I are a very young couple. I am 20 almost 21 and my husband is 22.

    My husband is very understanding and didn’t say anything at first about the whole situation but recently it seems that he can’t take it anymore. We are both in school; my mom pays for my tuition and my husband is on loans. My mom insisted in the beginning of the marriage to pay for my school to make sure we do not accumulate a lot of debt. I just found out it really bothers him that my mom is our financial safety net and if we run out of money, she usually helps us. He wants us to be completely independent; I am not sure if I agree. The way I see it is if she wants to help, let her.

    Also we go to the same church, so we see her twice a week, every week. My husband states that it is nothing personal and that he loves my mom but he doesn’t want to see her every week. He wants me to “cut the umbilical cord”.

    Now my husband wants us to change churches; he wants us to take a year off school to work full time so we can save and he wants me to reduce the number of times I speak to her. Ideally he wants her to stop paying for my school so that he can feel like a man and that he is providing for me.

    I need advice because we are at the beginning of our marriage. I want to set the right foundation. My mom often feels that because we are young, we are naive and don’t know what we are doing. As mentionned earlier my dad was abusive so she is VERY protective of me and doesn’t want the same thing to happen to me. That’s why she is constantly involved in our decisions and in some sense filters them. My husband says he is tired of feeling pressured by my mom, because every time he wants to make a decision he must ensure it pleases my mom. My mom lives about 20 minutes away so she often drops by with my siblings so we can have family time; my husband assures me that that doesn’t him though.

    I have already agreed to change churches and work for a year but I don’t know how to tell her not to pay for my school and I am not even sure if that is necessary.

    I love my mom and in some sense she needs me more than I need her. I have my husband to rely on but she has no one. Being the oldest of four kids, the other kids are a bit too young to rely on. I feel guilty. I married young and left home before she expected. I feel like cutting the cord completely with her would hurt her too much. At the same time I am tired of arguing about this with my husband. It is the ONLY thing we argue about; for everything else we are on the same page.

    I know I should cut the umbilical cord, but to what extent? I would REALLY appreciate some advice. I really want to set up my marriage in the way God intended it to be. Thank you and God bless.

    1. (UKRAINE) Hi Elizabeth, since I really don’t know anymore about your whole situation than what you have shared here, my first advice to you would be to pray and ask God to lead you in this situation. While it is very good that you should listen to your husband and try to do what makes him happy, I think its also essential that he should want your happiness as well. Is leaving your fully-funded studies for the sake of pride really the best course of action? Love should be a two-way street between the both of you and you should both seek each other’s happiness.

      That being said, when you decided to marry you basically took vows that your husband would become your most immediate family, even before parents and siblings. So whatever steps that you can take to make sure that your husband really feels that he comes first place in your life, I think you should. You should work to promote peace and harmony between you and your husband first, and then settle whatever issues there are with your Mom.

      I definitely don’t think you’re forced to choose between your husband and Mom; just try in a firm and loving way to stop your Mom from encroaching within the boundaries of your marriage. I hope this helps your dilemma and I wish you the best of God’s goodness in your marriage and family!!

      1. (CANADA) Thank you very much for your help! It did help and gave me an idea of what to do! I will definitely take this matter to the Lord in prayer. Thanks and God bless

    2. Unfortunately you messed up when you allowed her to pay for school. You gave her power over you and your husband at that point. He is right to feel that way because I have a MIL that is like that also. That’s why I hate it when my wife asks her sometimes to borrow money. I feel less of a man in those instances. Parents are only supposed to offer a security blanket in rough times, not have a say in your marriage. In this situation if she decides to cut your school funding what next? She knows that you depend on that.

  14. (USA) This article is really convicting for me. I am 20 years old, and one month away from my wedding day, and my parents are really struggling with it all. My fiancé and I live 6 hours away from my parents, and with college and work it is very difficult for us to be able to visit home very often. It hurts my parents, especially my mother. She and I talk a lot and she has called me crying about me getting married.

    She and my dad both love my fiancé and are happy for us, but they are having trouble letting go. I don’t want this to affect my marriage. My fiancé and I want to eventually move to Europe to do mission work, and my parents are completely against that, even though we want to wait 10 years to do so. It is very difficult. Any advice?

  15. (USA) Been happily married for 4 years. We married later in life. We moved from the Midwest, back east, and we have a home 5 mins from my inlaws. Mom in law blows up my wife’s phone, and is at the house a lot. Whenever we have an issue to solve, and it can be anything, the first person that she calls is her mom. At one point mom in law kept coming to the house unannounced and it got strange because I’d be on the sofa watching tv in my underwear or something and here she comes.

    My wife shops with her all the time, and during the summer her mom in law and other relatives are at our house all of the time, mainly when I am not home, but I still feel that this is not right. Maybe I am being difficult, but this does not sound like leaving and cleaving to me. When I tried to talk to my wife about this, she freaked out and cried and claims that even though this is her hometown, she has no friends to shop with, etc, so she calls mom. I even feel bad leaving her at home to do ministry and school because if I do, she calls mom to keep her company. HELP!!!