Leave does not mean abandoning or dishonouring. It means separating from them so that you can now unite with your spouse to start a new unit. It is not simply geographical leaving, it is psychological or emotional leaving or ‘cutting the umbilical cord’. If when a child is born we do not cut the umbilical cord and keep it connected to the mother then both will die of infection. Separation is essential for survival and growth for a child and so also for a marriage.
Even when geographical separation has happened, many times the emotional umbilical cord is still not cut. There may sometimes be strong and valid reasons for a couple to live in the same household as their parents however in such cases too, clear psychological and emotional leaving has to take place.
Time and again however the cord between the husband and his mother has not been cut and he is under the control of strong manipulation. This may be with all good intentions of trying to help, nonetheless it prevents oneness. Similarly if the wife is still dependant emotionally on her parents or siblings and makes all decisions as per their advice and not in oneness with the husband then it leads to trouble in marriage. Both husband and wife have to ‘leave’ their parental control and dependency on them.
Healthy Leaving and Cleaving
Joel and Carolyn as a couple have been working on healthy leaving and cleaving. They lived in an extended family with plans for a geographical move later. They list several positive steps they have taken to make sure healthy ‘leaving’ is taking place.
- Listen to advice from parents respectfully, but act on it only after agreeing together that it is correct for you as a couple. (i.e. You can take advice from anyone but you have to learn to make independent decisions as per your agreement and choice as a couple)
- Never criticize each other to parents on both sides.
- Give parents clear signals of your oneness by choosing to do things as a couple and creating your own unique family times.
- Support each other at all times with your parents.
- Demonstrate in words and practical ways your care and love for your parents and when living away, keep in touch with them regularly.
- We should not expect their constant financial support; instead make sure their needs are met. Gifts are extra blessings, don’t count on them!
If thoughtful and thorough ‘leaving’ happens then ‘cleaving’ should follow naturally. Literally ‘cleaving’ means to be glued or united to each other and to none else. Your spouse gets frustrated when your parents are more important to you than him/her and shows that you are not yet ready to be glued to him/her. Your primary relationship and commitment is to your spouse and everything and everyone else is secondary. You become one and together you can care for families on either side. It is no longer ‘your’ family and ‘my’ family. We are one family and we care for our extended family together in oneness.
It has to be a conscious decision not to run home to mom or dad but to take time to communicate with each other our needs, sharing our innermost selves and allowing your spouse into your secret places. It is a commitment to cleave together in good times and bad and not run away to others, even to our parents and siblings.
Even children cannot come between you. They come next in priority after your spouse. They need to see that you are one and together you care for them. Never let them manipulate you one against the other. The best gift you can give to your child is a secure home where you love your spouse and are one with them. This provides a safe haven for your children and extended family to come and be blessed.
|Spice up your marriage
Are you glued together? Look through Joel and Carolyn’s checklist and see if healthy leaving with honouring is taking place in your marriage. Be honest and reach out for help if you need it to make this happen. Discuss creative ideas of finding space for each other in the midst of busy schedules and extended families.