Cleaving and Leaving marriages


JF-Expert Member
Feb 16, 2010
CLEAVING AND LEAVING - Marriage Message #167
Some spouses set themselves up to leave their marriages because they never properly "cleaved" to their spouse in the first place. The Bible says in Genesis 2:24, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh." As author Dennis Rainey comments on this verse:
"The word, 'cleave," in the Hebrew language means to literally 'stick like glue.' It means to cling. Perhaps a modern-day illustration would be to take objects and super-glue or weld them together to become inseparable -bonded together. That's what God wants us to do in the marriage relationship. He wants us to leave our father and mother. He wants us to forsake dependence on them, and He wants us to turn to our spouse, & be committed to one another for a lifetime."
In this message, we're going to look at the subject of leaving & cleaving from several sources, to gain a better understanding of what we promise when we marry. Even if you've been married 50 years, you can still begin to do things right, if you haven't so far. Each day can bring a new beginning.
- On the subject of leaving and cleaving, from the web site, "What does this leaving and cleaving look like in daily life? It means that we no longer 'lean' on our parents, but on each other. It means that we do not allow parents to dominate our lives. We show them respect by listening to their ideas or suggestions, but we make our own decisions.
"We do not run to them with a list of our spouse's failures. Parents are not in the best position to be our counselor. Leaving means that we seek to be financially independent from our parents as soon as possible. We are grateful for their contribution to our lives, but now we want to make our own way. Leaving means that we build upon the foundation which they have given us."
- From the web site article, "Leaving & Cleaving is Not Easy": "After we get married, if we still cling on to our family of origin and are not willing to let go, it will not be easy for us to cling on to our spouse as strongly as we should! If our parents cling on to us & will not 'release' us to our spouse, then there will also be problems. Finally, when our children form families & we won't allow them to 'leave' us & cling on to their spouses, then we'll be the ones creating the problems!
"What does leaving' mean? It doesn't mean we make sharp cuts in our relationships such that we have nothing more to do with the other family. We don't want to cut off relationship. For example, when we 'leave' our family of origin we move the priority of relationship from our parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc., to our spouse and to our children. Then we can cling to our spouse with full commitment and loyalty. If ever there comes a clash of interests, we stand with our spouse and children rather than with our family of origin. When our children get married we'll encourage them to move their priorities to their spouses rather than cling to us.
- And here's a different take on this issue from the article, "Leaving and Cleaving," which centers on the Bible verse, Deuteronomy 24:5. They tell us, "When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business; but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he has taken."
"The Bible doesn't say that a man is obligated to cheer up his parents, does it? Nor is the bride to be distracted by parental feelings… Scripture says that, as a newlywed, the groom shouldn't be charged with ANY business --including yours, dear mother (or father)! Including yours, dear mother-in-law (or father-in law)! Mind your own business so your son or son-in-law can mind his! His business is to cheer up his new wife --don't interfere with his God given assignment.
"Don't interfere with God's business of building unity in their marriage! Do you realize that if a man does not come to understand his wife and honor her as God says he is to do, his prayer life is hindered? Do you want to be responsible for slowing down your son or son-in-law's understanding of his wife and mess up his prayer life? I hope not..."
- From the article, "God's Design for Building Your Marriage," this quote on this subject gives the following insight: "The word 'cleave' (KJV) or 'unites with' (NET) involves bonding together, much like gluing two things. The Theological Workbook of the Old Testament gives synonyms for the Hebrew word: 'cling to, stick to, stick with, join to.'
"When something breaks at our house, my husband often uses super glue to bond the pieces together. In fact, the bond is so strong that he has to be careful not to get the glue on his hand or he will become permanently attached to it as well! What insights does this give you about oneness? Cleave 'carries the sense of clinging to someone in affection and loyalty.'
"We need to consider what it means to 'cleave' so that we can better understand what it means to 'leave.' Leave involves more than distance. It is an attitude of the heart. God's plan for marriage involves oneness. In order for two to become one, they cannot still be attached to anyone else --parents, siblings, or friends. They cannot cleave unless they leave their family of origin. There are women (and men) who live next door to their parents and yet have 'left' them.
"Please understand that this does not mean that you cannot love your family and talk to them, etc.; however, there is a point at which you are can be attached to them so strongly that you fail to leave as you should. Sometimes it is the parents who cannot let the child leave. However, notice that the verse clearly calls the child to leave, not the parents to force them out. The responsibility is upon you to make the break from your home. You may need to help them let go."
- From "Strengthening Your Marriage" by Wayne Mack, as posted on, we're told what leaving "DOES NOT MEAN": "It does not mean that you must make a move away from the vicinity in which your parents live. Living too close to parents at the beginning of a marriage may make it more difficult to leave, but it is possible to leave your father and mother and still live next door. Conversely, it is possible to live a thousand miles away from your parents and not leave them. In fact, you may not have left your parents even though they are dead."
However, what it DOES MEAN is: "Once you are married there is to be a fundamental change in your relationship with your parents. Leaving your parents means: The husband-wife relationship is now the priority relationship. Your relationship with your parents must now take a back seat to your relationship with your spouse. In fact, all other relationships must now be secondary.

"It means that you're more concerned about your spouse's ideas, opinions, & directives than you are of your parents (or anyone else). Sometimes there is a power struggle between the two sets of parents. A husband & wife must be careful that they don't allow parents to manipulate them."
Amen! Next week, we'll explore the subject of cleaving -what it does and doesn't mean. We hope this will help your marriage (& you'll pass this info on to others who could benefit, as well).
May God richly bless your marriage,
Cindy and Steve Wright

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