Today’s Truth

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Genesis 2:24 KJV

Friend to Friend

My in-laws were coming for a visit…and I was not happy about it.

My husband has a twin brother, Dan. When “the twins” got married, Steve’s parents struggled with letting go. They lived four hours away and often announced that they were coming for a visit without being invited. To make matters worse, there was no departing date mentioned.

In their minds, it was an open-door policy. They had the idea of mi casa es su casa…su casa es mi casa. It wasn’t that Steve and I weren’t on the same page when it came to putting our relationship first and establishing healthy boundaries; it was just that we didn’t know how to handle his parents who refused to let go of their boys and allow them to form their own families.

Finally, Dan and Steve set up a time to meet with their parents. With lists in hand, they set out clear boundaries with the reasons why. It was excruciatingly painful for all four of them. Tearful parents. Guilt-ridden young men. “You don’t love us anymore,” their parents cried. Of course, that was not the case at all. The guys loved their parents very much. However, they knew that, for their own marriages to survive and thrive, someone had to cut the cord. Since their parents wouldn’t do it, they were going to have to do it for them.

Their parents had to come to grips with the fact that when it came to their married boys, tu casa es tu casa. Once the initial tension subsided, their parents adjusted to the healthy boundaries and expectations. Years later they were thankful that both Steve and Dan had strong marriages that will last a lifetime. Every parent’s dream.         

Leaving can be painful for some couples. But I tell you this, there will be no cleaving if there is no leaving.

In the Song of Solomon 3, Solomon’s mom made a small gesture on her son’s wedding day that was packed with meaning.

Look on King Solomon wearing a crown,

the crown with which his mother crowned him

on the day of his wedding,

the day his heart rejoiced. 3:11

It was customary in those days for the mother to make her son a crown for his wedding day. This isn’t the crown that Solomon would wear as King of Israel, but as king of his home. It was a gesture saying he was leaving his old life and cleaving to his new wife.

Sometimes it’s hard for mommas to take second place in their sons’ lives when they get married. I get it. I became a mother-in-law in July. In making Solomon a crown, his mother showed him that she heartily approved of his choice and would support them in every way.

In the Garden of Eden, after fashioning Eve, God presented her to Adam. Then he said, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh (2:24 KJV). The ESV translates the word cleave as hold fast to his wife. The NIV says, is united to his wife.

Cleave is a word we don’t use much today. The Hebrew word is dabaq, and means to cling, closely pursue, deeply attracted to, fasten its grip, to hold fast, remain steadfast, stay, stick together. Like gluing two pieces of paper together, the couple is glued in such a way that if anyone were to try and pull them apart, pieces of one would cling to the other.

There cannot be a true intertwining of souls if one or both of the partners in the marriage does not leave the family of origin. Leaving doesn’t mean not having anything to do with the extended family, but it does mean that the most important family unit, the one that takes priority above all other earthly relationships, is between the new husband and wife.

Just as a newborn baby cannot exist outside the womb until the cord is cut, a new couple cannot thrive outside the family of origin until the tether that has held them to their mother and father is severed.

When a man defers to his mother rather than his wife, it creates a wedge between him and his wife that God never intended. Likewise, when a wife confides in her mother rather than her husband, she is placing her mother in a position solely reserved for her husband. These are little foxes that can ruin the vineyard (Song of Solomon 2:15).

If you’re married, establish healthy boundaries. If you have a married child, never make him or her feel guilty for choosing their spouse over you. Better yet, never make the married child feel as if he or she has to choose at all.

Let’s Pray

God, help me to always put my relationship with my husband above all others. Show me any ways that I have not done so, and give me the courage to do so.

In Jesus’ Name,


Now It’s Your Turn

Isn’t it interesting that God said to “leave and cleave” before there was even anyone to “leave?” Why do you think God made that declaration before there were any parents to leave?

What are some specific areas that you can think of that a couple needs to make sure that they are leaving and cleaving? One example would be finances.

More From the Girlfriends

The Song of Solomon is a confusing book for many. But when you break the code and decipher the romantic language, it all makes sense. In my latest release, Lovestruck: Discovering God’s Design for Romance, Marriage, and Sexual Intimacy from the Song of Solomon, you’ll see God’s design for one of His greatest gifts. Parts of it will have you saying, “Is that really in the Bible?” Yep, God made sure of it. Click on for more details. And, have you checked out The Praying Wives Club?

5 Responses to “Now, About Those In-Laws”

  1. Joy says:

    This was really good! Very practical & something you don’t often hear in Christian circles but is so desperately needed! Congrats on your new daughter-in-law 😊

  2. Kathy says:

    Sad to say, as a mother in law who totally gets this, and gave them tons of space, not seeing them for weeks, even tho they lived around the corner, we still seemed to be a threat to our daughter in law. I had the worst mother in law, so was determined not to be that person, no unannounced drop ins, no trying to manipulate,etc. After almost 17 years I finally feel like our daughter in law likes us. The most important thing to me is for them to stay married, and that’s what we’ve prayed for, because we won’t always be here.

  3. Kate says:

    I wish I have a mother in law like you. Unfortunately, mine believes that we need to obey them and since I “joined” the family I should follow their culture and rules. We’re still praying that she understands that we are our own family and she has to stop trying to control us.

  4. Nicki says:

    I like your Interputation of the verse. someppl
    feel when they get married they should have very little or nothing to do with there families. its refreshing to know thats not what the verse means

  5. Shannon says:

    Wow!! I did not do my devotional yesterday and woke up this morning to this! We are dealing with my in-laws right now. They moved from California to be “near” us and the girls. We bought a house about an hour away from them a year ago and they close on their new house next week just 5 min away.The kicker is my husbands mom is mean and manipulative. We will not let them keep our girl’s just because of the verbal abuse they would have to endure. My husband had a very cruel child hood at the hands of his parents and my step-daughter has been treated very cruel as well. We are seeing the same pattern starting to happen with our 5 and 4 year old. Just saying uncalled for things that can tear a child or even an adult down. Now that the girls are older they want to come get them. Please pray for us as we try to handle this situation. They can be very likable, but the bad does out way the good. I don’t want to out and out hurt them it’s not my nature, but I can’t let my children be put through what my husband and my step-daughter has had to go through. Please pray for wisdom and guidance.

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