Saturday, January 12, 2008

Leaving and Cleaving Pt. 2

I have continued to ponder the leaving and cleaving mentioned in Genesis. It would seem, for men, this is more of a break from the headship of their father, more so than a physical "leaving". Obviously, there were times when God called men to leave the place they were living and move (think Abram), but the norm would appear that the man stayed either with his family or near them ~ unless he is marrying into a pagan culture, and then everything went haywire. There are exceptions as well ~ Jacob, who ran from his brother and lived with Laban ~hmmm, that didn't turn out particularly well, humanly speaking, and Laban was his mother's relative, not his father's.

Please understand, I am not bashing the wife's family. I'm just trying to analyze and understand what I see to be common, through the lens of Scripture. Often I think, if the wife will not "leave and cleave", not only does it affect her husband and his family, it affects her relationship with the family she has built with her husband. I recently became aware of a situation where a family had a tradition of where they spent a part of one holiday, but the wife's parents decided they were going to do something different, and so *her* family had to do that as well, instead of their long-standing tradition. One of the children in particular was very upset, but related that, "When Grandma and Grandpa want to do something, my Mom has to do it too." She was letting her attachment to her parents over-ride her commitment and attachment to her own family. In the process upsetting the children, because their beloved tradition was disrupted, not because of an emergency or unavoidable circumstance, but because of her whim.

I realize that often a husband's family is at best unfriendly and at worst down right hostile to a daughter-in-law, and this can greatly complicate things. It is difficult to prefer to be with people who would rather they had never even met you, let alone had to accept you into the family ~ and maybe they don't really accept you. But what does it say to your Beloved if you make the effort anyway, and act in a winsome way toward them, not meeting resistance with resistance, but doing your best to win them over. I say this with regret and sorrow. I never really made that effort, and now both of my Beloved's parents are gone. I caused my Beloved heartache, my children missed out on a closer relationship with one set of their grandparents, and I missed out as well, because I wasn't mature enough to make the effort to be kind and loving to people who wouldn't return in kind. Through an uncommon set of circumstances, that did change in my Beloved's father's later years, but by then he was in poor enough health that it still wasn't a close, vibrant relationship.

There are certainly times when a husband really doesn't want to have anything to do with his family either, and while I believe that we should encourage a phone call now and then and for him to be honoring, I don't think the issue should be pushed. However, if our Beloved loves and desires to be with his family and we are rejecting them, then in reality, we are rejecting a part of him as well. Even if you don't see much to be admired, remember that this is the mother and father that raised the man you love ~ and that's something!

I encourage you to take time today and really contemplate and pray about your relationship with your family and with your in-laws. Have you truly left your family and joined yourself to your husband?

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