In the book of Genesis, we learn that when a man leaves his father and mother and marries, that the two are now united as one. It seems so logical and so simple. You leave the family that raised you and begin a new family with your spouse. It does not mean that you sever all relationship with your family of origin, just that there is a leaving and cleaving process. There are now two family entities. The family a spouse came from and the new family with two new spouses.
The concept makes sense and, from a counselor’s viewpoint, is the only way a couple can have the marriage they desire. God’s plan is for us to put Him first and at the same time to put our spouse second. When we get these out of order, our marriage will suffer. It’s a two-fold responsibility. The family of origin’s role is to let go. They have done their job and now it is time for their adult child to move on. The relationships continue, but are redefined and now become adult-to-adult relationships. The role of the new couple is to depend on each other and not on their family of origin. When those things do not happen, the new couple and the family of origin can become enmeshed in each other and everyone suffers.
This leaving and cleaving eventually touches all of us. When Nancy and I married, we had a new family. We still loved our parents, spent time with them and enjoyed those relationships, but they were different now. Our core was the two of us. As our kids grew up and married, it was our turn to let go. We wanted then to have their new family identity. This whole concept is more difficult for some than others but the point is that it needs to happen. If you are struggling with either role, pray and talk to someone who can help you navigate through this process. Leaving and cleaving is God’s plan and like all of His plans, it is the best.