A marriage cannot work if someone or someones have a higher priority than the spouse. There must be a thorough yet healthy leaving of one’s initial family and a complete and eager cleaving of one’s unique spouse.
Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast (cleave) to his wife, and they shall become one (Genesis 2:23-24).
Leave – “The Moving Out”
God’s call to leave one’s family is more than a physical separation – it is a transfer of ultimate allegiance.
Without a clear and thorough shift in priorities, a marriage will never experience true intimacy.
Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you (Deuteronomy 5:16).
God calls you to honor your parents regardless of your age or situation.
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8).
God does not expect you to abandon your parents, but He does expect you to reprioritize their position in your life.
To become united with your spouse, you cannot retain any unhealthy perspectives of your parents or your spouse’s parents.
Don’t idolize your parents or demonize your inlaws.
Even if you aren’t aware of it, you have brought baggage of your parents’ examples into your marriage.
It is important to evaluate from the examples before you regarding what you want to repeat and what you want to reject in your own marriage.
Cleave – “The Moving In”
Marriage is meant to provide a type of spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical glue that no other relationship should rival.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)!
If you fail to transition the relational priority to your spouse and instead maintain it on your initial family, your marriage will experience significant trouble.
Your decisions as a couple must be communicated as singular directions and protect against outside division.
The ability to be fully known and fully loved provides a safe environment like none other.
True intimacy within marriage is when no one shares any connection deeper than the spouse.
In order to protect the oneness God intended within marriage, you must learn to be proactive in building boundaries rather than reactive to others’ expectations.
You must protect your marriage from good relationships in unhealthy positions (parents, siblings, children, friends).
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.