Cleaving from Mother and Father

What does it mean to cleave from mother and father?

Genesis 2:24 (NIV)

"That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh."

They are two sides of the same coin: becoming one flesh and leaving.

The concept is hard to do for those who have entanglements with their parents.

I had a deep challenge with my own wife who remained entangled with her mother.

When her mother scolded my wife, my wife scolded me.

But I foten didn't know the source. Instead, I would get some angry admonishment from out of the blue, and then not know what to do with it.

The answer is in Scripture, but no few people look at it.

The separation is not only from a living parent.

The experirence and habits passed on from a parent is also challenging.

It becomes difficult when the habits and shame carries on.

It grows and expands.

They solution is in scripture itself - they should tackle them as one flesh.

For example, my wife would take the frustration and chastise me if it weren't being done, blame me for the fact that she hasn't be able to respond positively to her mother's request. Unfortunately, those requests miss context or were just wrong altogether.

This created a set-up for failure: I was constantly a failure because she was chastised by her mother. The kids aren't warm; the homework isn't done properly; the house isn't big enough or too far or too old; our child was told she's selfish by the mother.

These things weren't problem brought to me to solve together as "one flesh."

They were external expectations internalized and I became scapegoated.

The solution is very different. It may be hard, but then without this there is no marriage.

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It takes two parts.

One: my wife should say to her mother, "I hear what you're saying. But before I can do that, I would like to review with my husband. It seems different from what he wants, and if you want to change our mind, you can discuss it with him."

Then my wife should bring it to me: "I am feeling angry and frustrated that my mother wants things done a certain way and we aren't. I am hearing her and we're not satisfying this demand and she's taking it out on me. I feel caught in a hard place right now."

Notice how I don't say that she must condemn or break with her mother. But she does need to place the right order.

Without it, we had turmoil and conflict.

On my end, I am doing battle with someone who is behind the shadows, and must face head-on shame and condemnation against a contract or expectation that was never set.

On my wife's end, she feels frustration from both sides, but has tied too much identity to the mother.

alone time

Spend time each one asking the nature of separation from your respective parents.

This is not only in-person or live moments.

But it is also things that may be difficult to release: patterns, habits, and old hurts.

But in-person or live moments have the priority if they are controlling or setting expectdations


Discuss the honest nature of your relationship with your parents. Be prepared to share or confess if you are too closely tied and explore whether you have put contracts on your spouse from your parents, but done so that breaks one-flesh, rather than working on them together.

As above, there is safe language to use to ask for help.


Pray for awareness and truth of the standing with your parents

Pray for clarity and invite safety so you can share.

Notes for this Article