The following is an excerpt from Byron and Carla Weathersbee’s new release, To Have & To Hold. Order your copy or see a free sample today at Lifeway.com/ToHaveandToHold. You can also pick up a copy at your local Lifeway Store!
When you marry, people say, you don’t just marry your partner, you marry two families. Which is true. You’re not just entering into a relationship with your spouse; you’re entering into ongoing, lifelong relationships with your in-laws as well. But it’s also true that as you cleave to your mate, you are leaving your family of origin. When you marry, you create a new family of your own—a separate spiritual unit. It’s the two that become one. Not the six. Not the eleven.
For some of you, leaving your past family history and marrying into a fresh start is a very welcome change. However, if you fail to learn from your struggles and heal past hurts, it will be difficult to enter into a healthy marriage relationship. Every marriage will undoubtedly have struggles of its own. For others of you, leaving home will be the toughest part of getting married because you have a favorable family past with many rich traditions and warm memories.
Sociologists have identified two factors as being highly significant to the success of a marriage: 1) whether people have emotionally separated from their parents in a healthy way and 2) whether they have had an opportunity to live on their own, by themselves, before they are married. If both of these conditions existed, individuals have a better opportunity for a successful marriage.¹
DOES HONORING PARENTS AND OBEYING THEM GO HAND IN HAND?
It is very important that newly married couples work toward a healthy relationship by loving and honoring their parents.
When parents are actively involved in their children’s lives, of course, they’ll probably have relational capital to offer their opinions. Unfortunately many parents today are either not very involved or are over-involved in their children’s lives. As we grow into adults, we increasingly come to see that everyone, including our parents, has baggage. Unfortunately, parents’ baggage—controlling behavior, unreasonable expectations for their children, and immature actions—can sometimes surface during the engagement period. Put bluntly, some parents can even be less mature than their own children.
If there are struggles, tension, or past hurts, encourage the couple to have an honest conversation with their parents about disagreements or past baggage. Perhaps encourage them to write a letter to open a dialogue.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he begins the chapter by telling children to “obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Eph. 6:1). That word obey is said “of one who on a knock at the door comes to listen who it is.”² Paul continues by quoting the Old Testament book of Exodus, “‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise—‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on this earth’” (Eph. 6:2-3; Ex. 20:12). Part of getting married is becoming an adult—children don’t get married. Children need discipline and structure from a parent. Adults need self-discipline. Yet, both children and adults must continue to honor their fathers and mothers.
When conflict does occur, avoid triangulation: when three parties are involved in a he said/she said disagreement. Usually one says something about the other to a third party instead of going directly to the other person.
It is important to sit down and talk respectfully face-to-face with the involved party about what you sense coming between you. Always have a united front as a couple, and allow the son or daughter to deal directly with his or her parent. The key is to show respect—regardless of how the parents respond. Couples are creating a new legacy of their own.
- H. Norman Wright, Mothers, Sons, and Wives (Ventura, California: Regal Books, 1994).
- Joseph Thayer, Thayer’s English-Greek Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995) via mywsb.com.
Excerpted from To Have and To Hold © 2017 Lifeway Press. Used by permission.