Many marriages struggle due to dealing with extended families.  One common issue for many couples is how for adults to interact with their adult parents.

Regarding your parents, there are two equal marital dangers: dishonoring abandonment or reluctant detachment.   

Even while it seems difficult to obtain, there is a healthy balance.  When you start your family with your spouse, it doesn’t mean that you have to end your family with your parents.  It will be different though.  It has to be or your marriage cannot thrive.  Within the early pages of Scripture, adult children are given clear commands regarding how to obtain this balance regarding their relationship with their parents.  Scripture commands adult children to leave and yet to honor their parents.

Leaving Parents

In leaving your parents, you are committing to a level of exclusive oneness with your spouse.  In describing the first husband and wife, Scripture teaches that a man should “leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one” (Gen. 2:24).

Adam and Eve didn’t even have earthly parents, so why was this statement written?  It was written for every couple after them including us.  Too many marriages never experience oneness because they still depend upon the emotional, financial, and relational support from at least one set of parents.  You can never stand on your marriage when being propped up by your parents.

Honoring Parents

In honoring your parents, you are committing to a respect that values your parents’ God-given roles in your life throughout every stage of your life.  The first horizontal command in the Ten Commandments is to “honor your father and mother, that your days may be long” (Ex. 20:12).  God didn’t give this command to only the preschoolers assembled at Mt. Sinai.  This command was first heard by an 80-year-old Moses and he was expected to obey it.

Even when it is difficult to honor the person of your parent, always honor the position of your parent.  As married adults, you are not called to obey your parents, but that doesn’t mean you need to disrespect them if they still try to baby you.  As far as it depends on you, live at peace with them (Rom. 12:18).

Is it possible to leave and yet honor?  Without a doubt!  God wouldn’t give us both commands as if one canceled the other one out.

Learn to respect your parents without relying on your parents.

Look to your parents for wisdom but don’t depend upon them for guidance.  Deep hurts can be administered when you choose your parents’ opinions over your spouse’s.  If you have a parent that is trying to get too involved in your family’s affairs, put an end to it for the sake of your marriage but do it in a way that honors your parents and glorifies the Lord.

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.