What is Leaving and Cleaving in Marriage?

Bride with parents
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Brett and Kate Ryan joined Robbo and Becci on Rise and Shine to explore the biblical principle of leaving and cleaving. What does it mean to leave and cleave in marriage? It may sound like an old-fashioned term, but it still has relevance for couples today.

To leave and cleave is a biblical principle, and it’s really important for couples to understand what it means to leave your mother and father and cleave to your spouse.

Brett explains, “The bible says that therefore a man will leave. There are really two parts to this. It’s not just about marriage, but it’s also about preparing your children to leave as adults. They need to be able to run a household, manage finances, cook and clean. It’s about preparing young adults to live a life independently from their parents. Children leave their parents relationally, emotionally, financially and sometimes even geographically.”

Brett and Kate Ryan
Brett and Kate Ryan

When a couple marries, they are living under Gods covering as a new family.

Kate says “They have to step up to lead in their own family, and if they have children they have a responsibility to lead them too. Our parents don’t go away though.  We still need the input and spiritual inheritance that comes from them. Brett and I have gone to our parents to discuss spiritual and relational things because we respect their wisdom, life experience and unconditional love. They will challenge us.”

But Brett and Kate agree that there is an important distinction between seeking out our parents as opposed to just letting them waltz in. The husband and wife are unit and parents can be invited to give wisdom and opinions, but the floodgates are not open. The husband and wife are the ones who what goes on in their home.

Boundaries need to be in place, and our parent can’t just overstep.

Brett continues, “It’s important to remember that you can still honour your parents, but the marriage relationship is more important. It’s still ok to talk to your parents, but your first point of call is your spouse. That is what leaving and cleaving means.”

The relationship should progress from parent child to an adult relationship. You relate differently, and it becomes more of a peer relationship. Our goal is to raise our children to be really fruitful adults. We should be preparing them for that.

Kate says, “Honouring your parents is complicated, it’s not blind obedience. We have to be careful in a patriarchal society because cultural tries to dictate what we do. We should be careful as Christians that our decisions are biblical and not cultural.”

Listen to the full interview below.

Tune into Rise & Shine weekdays on Vision Christian Radio. Click here for your local times.

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