You have planned a romantic night in and the phone rings. As each ring echoes around the room your mind fills with dread, you know who it is and you know what they want … your spouse!
In Genesis 2:24 we are given the instruction “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
A lot of couples struggle in their marriage because they have never truly ‘left’ their parents. If you can get this right at the newly-wed stage you are ahead of the game. Even if you have been married for years it isn’t too late to change. Leaving doesn’t mean breaking off all relationship with them but it does mean a purposeful moving away. The word leave also means ‘loose’ in other words it is time to untie those apron strings! Your spouse now becomes your first priority. That does not remove your responsibility towards your parents but it does mean that you are considerate of your spouse, their feelings and their needs.
God doesn’t just tell us to leave our father and mother but He instructs us to cleave to our spouse. Cleave is not a word we use often so what does it mean? The strong’s concordance defines it as “to adhere, especially firmly as if with glue, to be glued.” In other words, we are to stick so close together that it is as if we are glued together.
An illustration that is often used is taking a piece of blue paper (symbolising the husband) and a piece of pink paper (symbolising the wife) that have been glued together. This represents the closeness of the union that God wants us to have in our marriage relationship.
Different things tug on our marriage tearing us away from each other. When you tear the two pieces of paper apart then a mess is left. Some of the blue will still be attached to the pink and some of the paper will be torn. There is always emotional damage!
Matthew 19:6 (Amplified version) “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What God has joined together, let man not put asunder (separate).” Don’t allow your family relationships to come between the two of you.
How to untie those apron strings and cut those family ties.
Recognise that the apron strings exist. Often we don’t even recognise that there is a problem, we think our spouse is the problem because they don’t recognise the needs of our parents. Listen to your spouse, they more than anyone will be able to identify if the apron strings exist.
Indicators that there is an unhealthy parent/offspring relationship.
- You value your parents’ opinion above your spouse’s.
- You drop everything and run if they ask for your help.
- When you are asked to do something and the timing is not right you are unable to say ‘not now’.
- You are unable to make decisions as a couple without running it by your parents first.
- If you have an argument with your spouse you ‘run home’ instead of sorting it through with your spouse.
If you have identified that the ‘apron strings’ exist in your relationship with your parents then you need to know how to ‘loose’ them. Here are some practical steps to take.
Identify boundaries you can all work with.
A phone call or visit every night of the week will probably be too much for your spouse to handle. Identify what is a reasonable amount of time to spend with your relatives and make sure you have enough time to spend with your spouse.
Talk to your parents.
If they are struggling to let you go then you will need to help them see things from your perspective. Pray about how to approach them in wisdom and love and let them know the boundaries.
Examine your habits.
If you have a habit of phoning your parents for advice and ignoring what your spouse has to say about the problem then you need to break that behavioural pattern. It is not wrong to get outside advice but it is possible to override your spouse’s feelings in order to ‘please’ your parents.
Plan your time.
How and where to spend holidays often causes strife in a marriage. Planning ahead will allow you to show your parents you care and still have quality time on your own as a couple.
Forgive each other.
Often bitterness and resentment enter a relationship as the result of ‘leaving and cleaving’ not taking place, you need to forgive your spouse if this is the case. You also need to forgive if your spouse has become critical of you and your parents as a result. Forgiveness releases you both to love the way God intended.
By Lainey Hitchman
Many couples struggle to get on the same page in marriage. Whether you are newlyweds or have been married for years Bringing Worlds Together will help you blend together. Expect to learn more about your spouse, gain insight and be challenged.
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No-one enters marriage expectation free. Adjusting Expectations helps identify how expectations were formed and whether or not they were realistic. Most expectations need some adjustment; they are often too high but can also be set too low. The good news is expectations can be reset!
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