Setting Up House
A man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife. GENESIS 2:24
On the morning of our oldest daughter’s wedding, I sat on a picnic table near our backyard fire pit and wept. This was the very place where we’d shared hundreds of family experiences together over the years, but I knew my relationship with Ashley, who I called “My Princess,” was about to change—forever.
Genesis 2:24 instructs newlyweds to “leave” their parents. This doesn’t mean cutting off your relationship with them but instead committing to place a higher priority and loyalty on your spouse. This was what Ashley was about to do. As you think about your parents, here are some healthy boundaries that will enable you to leave, cleave, and protect your marriage:
1. Never speak disrespectfully about your spouse to your parents. Early in our marriage, I shared one of Barbara’s weaknesses with my mother. I was astounded at how quickly Mom rushed to my side, like a mother hen coming to shelter her wounded chick. My mom never forgot that weakness. As a result, I promised Barbara I would never again discuss negative things about her with my mom.
2. Be deliberate in the way you plan your holidays. At some point, it will be time for you to start establishing your own traditions in your own family. And even when those traditions include visiting with parents and inlaws, keep your stay brief.
3. Don’t depend on your parents for finances. There may be a rare situation where their assistance may be appropriate, but if you depend on them habitually you can play to a weak spot in your parent’s lives where they create “emotional IOUs.” And if you’re the parent or in-law in this scenario and your children don’t build these hedges around their own marriage, be mature and loving enough to build them around yourselves. Encourage your children to leave, cleave and establish their loyalty to one another.
How well have you done in leaving and cleaving? What still needs some adjustment?
Ask God to give you wisdom in how you relate to your parents and, when the time comes, to your adult children.