Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Leave and Cleave

"And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. The 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 to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Genesis 2:22-24

I have been thinking on this a lot lately. Obviously, the text says, "a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife," but if the wife is still "holding fast" to her family, is this possible in the sense that God intends? I know that there are men out there who are very close to their parents, and will put their needs/wants ahead of their own family, but I think this is something that women struggle with to a much greater degree.

From the marriages I have observed, it seems much more likely that the wife will not forsake her own family to participate with and “belong to” her husband’s family. This often means that all holidays are spent with her family, never with his. Perhaps she outright scorns the things his parents say or advice they give. Or she ridicules the way his family does things, or refuses to adopt any of his family’s traditions.

Sometimes this happens because his parents are not friendly toward her ~ perhaps they are even hostile. But, I have seen this happen even when his parents were more than willing to welcome her with open arms and love her like a daughter.

I know that I have been guilty of some of these things at different points in our marriage, but as I mature and grow, I see how important those familial ties are. If we are going to have a multi-generational vision for our families, it doesn’t just begin with us. We have to look to the preceding generations as well. We need to show our children what it is to love, honor and embrace family that maybe we find difficult, or just plain different from ourselves.

As we draw closer to the time when our sons will be marrying, I wonder what I can do to build relationships with my future daughters-in-law. As our sons make known to us their interest in a particular girl, or come to us letting us know they are ready to begin the courting process, I want to embrace those young women and begin to build a friendship with them, to come to love them *before* they are an “official” part of our family. This is not to say that I expect them at our home for every holiday. :-) But, I want to *gain* a daughter when the time comes, not lose my son.

We are encouraging our sons to not only look at the daughter, but to observe the whole family ~ how do they interact with one another? How do they behave toward him? Are they a family that our family gets along with? Does our son get along well with them? These may not be “deal breakers”, but we believe them to be an important part of the courtship process. As those of us who are married well know, you are not just marrying your spouse, you are taking on their family as well.

Well, I’m not sure that these thoughts aren’t somewhat muddled, but I guess this is just an overview of my thoughts on this subject. I’m hoping to flesh some of this out over the next few months and be more specific on different aspects of it. Any thoughts you have, I would love to hear. Especially concerning building relationship with daughters-in-law ~ with 5 boys, I need all the help I can get!

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