Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
– Genesis 2:24 KJV
To understand the true meaning of leaving and cleaving (and applying it) is a sure-fire in achieving a successful marriage. Thankfully, we can achieve it—by the grace of God.
After marriage, no one expects us to forget our parents because that’s not what it means to leave them. What it means is that we physically leave our parents’ house where we grew up and start our new, married life with our spouse. This is crucial. I believe there’s no problem if we decide to live with them temporarily. Otherwise, it may cause conflicts.
You see, there should only be one king and one queen under one roof, so the son-in-law cannot be king (and the daughter-in-law cannot be queen) if living with the in-laws. How can you start fresh if you’ll live in an established kingdom with established rules and an established monarch? You can’t decide to paint the house white; you can’t decide what to declutter; you can’t decide anything that concerns housekeeping. At times, you can’t fully control how you parent your child if you’re living under your in-laws’ roof. You don’t have the liberty to do anything you want! God knew that issue may arise that’s why He made a solution—leave your father and mother.
Of course, leaving them doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t heed their advice; it means that we will appreciate the wisdom they will impart to us and apply it accordingly. But ultimately, we seek God’s guidance to lead us to make the right decisions.
After marriage, no one expects us to cling to our spouse 24/7 because that’s not what it means to cleave with our spouse. What it means is that we will stick with each other no matter what.
In the dictionary, cleaving has two opposite meanings—to divide and to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly. We can adopt both of them in our marriage this way:
1. We divide our roles. No better guide to know what roles should a husband and a wife should play than the one in the Bible. In summary, here’s the role of each spouse: wives are to submit to their husbands, and husbands to love their wives (Ephesians 5:22-33).
2. We adhere firmly and closely, loyally and unwaveringly to our spouse—for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness, in health; until the time to spend our eternal lives in heaven do us part.