One of the most difficult things for a newly married couple to do is spread their wings and leave the comfy, familiar nest of Home. It can be scary, flying out into the world on unstable wings. At first it’s fun, soaring in the wind and gazing at life happening all around you. Then you realize it’s time to come down, and without the proper gear, you might be in for an emergency landing!

But it’s not just newlyweds that struggle with leaving the nest. Some couples struggle for years – perhaps even the duration of their marriages – to cut the apron strings. As scary (and exhilarating) as leaving the nest can be, it’s extremely important because it serves as the glue that bonds you and your spouse together. Until you successfully fly the nest, you and your spouse cannot experience the full plan God has for your family.

Defining Your New Family: The Struggle Is In the Details

At first, flying the nest sounds like a simple concept. Most couples do not live with their parents after they are married, so physically they appear to be out on their own. But we need to take into account the tougher elements of leaving and cleaving – the emotional, psychological, and spiritual realm. Let me share a few snags we ran into.

My husband and I came from very opposite backgrounds. He lived through the divorce and remarriage of both parents and because of this, he was used to a certain amount of independence. His idea of family life included an element of "figuring it out for himself." I, however, grew up in the stereotypical Christian home with an extremely close-knit family where Daddy took care of everything and everyone. I proudly played my role as the "baby."

Chances are your backgrounds are different too. If you’re not careful, these fundamental differences will have you clashing over the ways you used to do things instead of forging a new life together.

And sometimes, we weren’t careful.

As the "baby," when challenges arose in life, I found myself wanting to run to my father for help rather than trusting my husband to make the right decision for us. For almost a year I would logically argue, "Why guess and maybe get it wrong, when we can just ask dad and get it right?" I didn’t realize how important it was to start applying the glue of "leaving and cleaving" to my marriage. I was accustomed to going to my dad because he had never let me down. Flat tire? No problem, Dad will be right there. Sewer lines backed up? He’s on the way with the Rotor rooter! Engine light came on in the car? Dad will look at it tonight! I wasn’t giving my husband the chance to "fix it" and build trust between us.

One evening, I had a breakthrough. Driving home from work, I noticed that the gauges on my car’s dash looked funny. I was worried that maybe I shouldn’t drive any further. I picked up my cell and was halfway through dialing my parent’s home number when I stopped, hung up, and dialed my husband instead. I told him about the problem, and he promised to look at it that evening, assuring me that I was safe to come on home. We changed my oil, aired up my tires, and that was that. Such a simple thing, yet I could have ruined the evening by reverting to my single-girl habits rather than submitting to my newly acquired role as "wifey".

Decision-Making as One – Not Three or Four

There are a lot of decisions to make as a newlywed couple. Where will we live? How do we budget our money? How can we afford everything we need? When will we have children? How can we have children when we can’t even afford to go see a movie?? At times it will seem easier to run back to mom and dad, but it’s definitely more rewarding to persevere and work through your problems as a team. There’s nothing wrong with accepting a little help now and then – our parents certainly have valuable wisdom to offer -- but making it a habit isn’t healthy for your marriage. I’ve come to realize that the first few years of marriage are perhaps the most trying, but are also possibly the most rewarding as we struggle to live and bond together.