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Leave and Cleave: Reflections of a Military Wife

  • Carol McGlothlin & Brenda C. Pace Authors
  • Published Sep 30, 2004
Leave and Cleave: Reflections of a Military Wife

 If you want to experience the truth of Genesis 2:25 (NASB) -- "For this cause [the covenant of marriage] a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife" -- just marry a soldier, sailor, airman, coastguardsman, or marine. You will then understand to the fullest just what God had in mind when He gave this instruction!

Like me, most of you had already lived away from home by the time you married, whether it was because of college or a job. When you marry a military man, however, leaving home may not only mean moving to another town but possibly another country! Military orders are always just around the corner, although they can take you clear around the world. And while this can bring much angst for the new military wife, it can also drive a military couple to depend more upon each other.

This became especially true for my husband and me (Carol) when after only nine months of marriage, he received orders to report to Germany. I remember driving to Charleston, South Carolina, thinking (as my parents followed us in a car close behind), "This is it. I will never see my parents or family again." I had known Richard for a very long time, but it became very real to me that he was going to be all I had from this point on. I was leaving behind everything else I held dear in my life to travel halfway around the world. Would the love we had for each other be strong enough to withstand this adjustment?

They say, "All you need is love." And in a sense this is true -- as long as it is God's love, not merely the natural, human kind. The world defines love as a mysterious feeling a person falls into -- and out of -- at the whim of fate. But the Bible is woven with the thread of true love from beginning to end. Within its covers we learn that true love is defined as passion anchored by commitment.

At the wedding of their son recently, Brenda's husband, Richard, used a wonderful story to illustrate this concept. He asked the congregation to imagine a kite in the shape of a heart (representing our passion in a relationship) attached to a string (representing our commitment). Just as a kite dances in the breeze, the passion of true love desires to dance in the winds of life and relationship. Some may think the string of commitment holds this passion back, but in fact it is just the opposite. If you cut the string from a kite, it may momentarily look as though it has sprung free to experience new flight. But if you follow it long enough,  you'll eventually find the kite tangled in a tree or broken on the ground.

To fly higher, a kite does not need to be cut free; it just needs more string. The greater the cord of commitment in a marriage, the higher the passions can fly. When you become skilled in true love, knowing how to balance both commitment and passion, your kite will dance in the winds of love, free to soar and turn loops, knowing the string of commitment will keep it safe.

Upon reflection I see I was being slightly overdramatic in those early years when I thought I would never see my family again. The fact is, the military forces s to leave home and family, yet the transition actually helped us choose to cleave to one another. I am grateful that as a result of this choice, our commitment to one another -- and our love for one another -- has been solidified and strengthened.

Jesus stated in Mark 12: 30-31 that the greatest commandment is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself." Would it not be safe to say that your closest neighbor is your spouse?

The charge given by Chaplain Pace at the close of the wedding ceremony reflected the uniqe blessings of a Jesus-centered marriage. He said, "My grandmother passed on the secret of marital success to my bride and me when we were married twenty-nine years ago, and today I pass it on to you. She told me that if we both live first for the Lord and then lived for each other instead of for ourselves, we would have a happy marriage. Her words were not as eloquent as the Lord's in Mark 12:31, but she spoke with the confidence of experience that this truth from the Word of God works in marriage."

I can only add to that: "Amen!"

~ Carol and Brenda

Father, I thank You for my husband and the blessing he is to me. I am grateful that You have allowed us to join in the covenant relationship of marriage. Help me to be the best neighbor to him that I can be. Allow our marriage to be characterized by passion anchored with commitment. May the love we have for each other be greater as a result of the love we have for You. Amen.

Excerpted from Medals Above My Heart: The Rewards of Being a Military Wife by Carol McGlothlin and Brenda C. Pace, © 2004, pps. 19-22.  Used by permission of Broadman & Holman Publishers,

Carol McGlothlin
earned her bachelor of science degree in psychology from Belmont University. She served in many volunteer positions throughour her husband's military career including chairman, vice president, and president of Protestant Women of the Chapel. She currently resides with her family in Huntsville, Alabama.

Brenda C. Pace has a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education from Lee University and a M.Ed. in early childhood education from Columbia University. She has served in various leadership roles for military organizations including being on the national board of Protestant Women of the Chapel -- USA.