A man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. — Genesis 2:24
Failing to become independent of parents is not a problem we see too often in the military. Most military members and their spouses are self-reliant, and competent. But it still bears repeating that God’s plan for marriage includes leaving your parents, avoiding overdependence on your parents, and honoring your parents at the same time. Sometimes there is a balancing that must be done to accomplish all of that. At FamilyLife Weekend to Remember marriage conferences we are taught that “the degree to which you leave is the degree to which you can cleave.” (p. 57) “Cleave” is not one of those words we use much anymore, but it means to establish a commitment to your spouse on which to build oneness—in decision making, in priorities, and in intimacy.
It is important to guard your marriage in this area of “leaving and cleaving” during deployment in two specific ways. Before you deploy discuss how you are going to handle departures, R & R and homecoming with parents and in-laws. There might be some expectations that need to be worked through—and you must decide who is going to be the one (you or your spouse) to tell the parents how you want to handle these special times. This is an important matter—one that needs to be discussed in the “mission planning” stage of pre-deployment. This is one of those balancing times—you want to honor your parents, but your marriage comes first. There is no right or wrong—just make sure that you reach agreement with each other on how much time you want to spend alone and how much time you want to spend with extended family.
The other area is the decision of where the at-home spouse will live while the other is deployed. This is another important topic on which you must agree. The threat to oneness occurs when either of you becomes over-dependent on parents or the parents become over-dominant while you are geographically separated. You might need their help, but in the eyes of God you are one with your spouse. That should be your priority—not your parents. Perhaps you need wise counsel in this area. . . just don’t give up. There is the potential for oneness in your marriage and the Lord will show you the way to lead your heart in that direction.
Here is today’s dare during deployment: Is “leaving and cleaving” a problem for you in your marriage? Confess it to the Lord in prayer, to your spouse, and be determined to get this right. Your marriage should be your top priority over any other relationship—parents, children (yes, children), friends.
Here are Scriptures to encourage you in truth:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. — Ephesians 5:25
. . .each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. — Ephesians 5:33
Kendrick, Stephen and Alex, The Love Dare (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2008)
Montgomery, Mike and Linda, Morgan, Keith and Sharon, Making Your Marriage Deployment Ready, (Little Rock: FamilyLife Publishing, 2008)
Weekend to Remember Conference Manual, (Little Rock: FamilyLife Publishing, 2007)