"And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Genesis 2:23-24 (KJV)
This is one of the most powerful scriptures concerning marriage, but most of us don't read any depth into it. We skim over it, agree with it and move on without really "getting" it.
Most of us move into a marriage with a lot of baggage. Family baggage that has nothing (or should have nothing) to do with our own personal marriage relationship. Whether we're a young man or woman marrying for the first time or a widow or widower marrying again, we need to learn to let go of the past. It has no place in the new life that we're creating.
I'll never forget the first public argument by one of my sons and his new bride. His father and I were invited to dinner, and the minute we arrived, my son questioned me. "Mom, you don't put tomatoes in coleslaw, do you?"
Now, I don't put tomatoes in my coleslaw, so I naturally answered, "No."
"See, honey," he said. "I told you!"
My daughter-in-law immediately came back with, "Well my mom always did!"
I informed my son that there is more than one way to make coleslaw and that both of these are correct; that they need to decide which way is best for them - not hassle over which one of their families has the right recipe.
Their next public confrontation came on their first Christmas together. I've always loved a real Christmas tree with all the trimmings, many of them natural. My son, wanting to give his wife a lovely Christmas surprise, purchased a real tree, like his mother would like, and had it installed in their living room before she came home from work. She was devastated! She had always wanted one of those shining aluminum trees with bright lights and sparkling ornaments. His wonderful surprise became a "bone of contention". In his desire to please, he had let his past family life govern him, instead of realizing that this was a "new" relationship, a creation of a new life (and lifestyle) with his beautiful bride. Did they get over it? In time, but this is a good example of how we bring past baggage with us into a new situation.
Not long after another of my sons married, I had lunch with his new bride in their new home. I created my own sandwich and proceeded to cut it from corner to corner. (My father owned a restaurant when I was growing up.) "That's where he gets it from," my daughter-in-law exclaimed. "He's always aggravated when I cut his toast or sandwiches from side to side." Life threatening? No. But a good example of how we carry family baggage without realizing it.
If you and your spouse agree that certain family traditions, recipes or habits work for your relationship, then, go for it! But if there is conflict over past family ideals, discuss making your own new traditions and habits. Leave your father and mother and "cleave" to your spouse. You might find that you like having your own personal family life, just the way you and your spouse have planned it.
These examples may seem trivial, but if we're not observant, they could get worse. Past family habits can creep into our financial business; they can govern the way we treat and discipline our children; they can find their way into our work habits, household chores and recreation time.
Newlyweds really need to be careful about allowing past family habits to govern the way they treat their spouses. Because your parents treated each other in a certain manner, doesn't mean it will work in your relationship. Your relationship is new. Make it work for the two of you.
Newlywed couples that are marrying for the second time need to embrace this same concept. Many adult children tend to "parent" their parents as they get older. Don't let them dictate the kind of marriage habits you form. This life only belongs to the two of you. Yes, you both need to consider each other's children, and love them. But don't let them dictate your life.
Above all, love each other, submit yourselves one to the other and together make a beautiful marriage that will last a lifetime. It's supposed to you know.
Jacquelyn Horne is a former newspaper reporter who has won various awards including two Delaware School Bell awards. She has poems and articles published in magazines and Christian publications. She moved from Delaware to central Georgia 13 years ago.
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