Wendy Warner is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in private practice at Trinity Family Counseling Center. In addition to working with couples, children, and individuals, Wendy also enjoys teaching the premarital classes for all couples planning to marry at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Macomb.
When two individuals choose to get married, they are entering into an exciting new season of life that they will always remember. They are bringing two unique people together who want to blend their strengths and contrasts, differing family backgrounds and create a new family of their own. God in his wisdom gave us a blueprint for this process of beginning marriage in Genesis 2:24. “Therefore, a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
When we follow God’s plan closely, it is a healthy picture of two adult children who shift from a first priority relationship with mom and dad to prioritizing each other. As they are cleaving, they are becoming deeply emotionally attached to one another. They have each other’s back as their first priority over any other family member. They become one flesh physically, but also spiritually and emotionally. They are one unit. They put each other above all others and all commitments. Couples will not do this perfectly. However, when any of these three steps are not implemented, it leads to a lot of confusion and frustration.
For a couple to thrive, they MUST leave the nest of parental dependency. Usually this is harder for the parents to adhere to than the adult child. Many parents still see it as their decision how the new couple will spend their holidays, vacations, time with grandchildren, etc. It is born of love and a strong desire to maintain family traditions and maximum contact with their loved ones. However, it is no longer their decision to make! It is the responsibility of the new couple to set boundaries on time with their parents, if their parents are not graciously deferring to their adult children. This is challenging for all, yet it only gets harder if these expectations are not clarified within the first year of marriage and the arrival of grandchildren. When the families are blending, it is imperative that grandparents respect all parties involved and understand they share the grandkids with multiple parties.
No matter how long a couple dates before marriage, the first years of marriage are a time of growing emotionally closer to one another. Research has proven that healthy couples achieve closeness, emotional safety and security. God knew that would be the desire of their heart and the best version of marriage. When they are cleaving, they strive to resolve conflict respectfully and honestly. They don’t make decisions like major purchases or job changes or parenting choices without first consulting each other out of respect. They put the needs of their spouse above any other relationship including an ex, a child, or a parent. They share big news with each other first and only disclose what the other is comfortable sharing with others.
In Ephesians chapter 5, God shares the roles of husbands and wives. He includes loving each other sacrificially. He instructs both to put the needs of their spouse ahead of their own. In this way they become one as they care more about the other’s needs than their own. This involves physical intimacy needs, parenting, communication… Everything. At this point God intended for the couple to have developed their own identity separate from their parents. They are a new family unit that loves and respects each other as the most important relationship in their lives. They share their hearts and bodies with each other in a way unlike anyone else. They are one.
If you are newly married or have been for a long time and are struggling in any of these areas, I hope you will take the time to evaluate which step needs attention. God is the creator of marriage and therefore has a very reliable blueprint to follow for a strong marriage. If you need assistance with any part of these steps, please consider reaching out to a faith-based marriage counselor to help you set boundaries with other family members, grow closer emotionally, and become one with your spouse.