I will be honest with you. It has never been a struggle for me to love my wife. It seems I always have been in love with her. Being married now almost 39 years, that means 2/3 of our adult life has been spent with each other. Biblical marriage is a journey of leaving, cleaving, and weaving a life together. WE have long ago left father and mother and began the lifetime process of “cleaving” to each other.

“Leaving” father and mother is not easy. I took Pam away from her family into my home the day after she graduated from Nursing School at Morehead State University. One year later, I took her four hours from home to the mountains of southeastern Kentucky so that I could finish my undergraduate degree and from there on to Louisville for an 11 ½ year stay. And then we REALLY left and came to Florida.

“Leaving” father and mother is essential for a marriage to be successful. You cannot bond emotionally to another person if your primary emotional attachment is still interwoven around parents or, in some cases, children. Our Creator’s lesson in relationship building only has room for one primary human relationship, and that is to be WITH YOUR MATE.

I have learned on two levels how hard this can be. One level was watching the struggle my wife had and still has in some ways, in that “leaving” process. She has paid a price for it… deeper than I have. It is one of the many things I love her for giving to me.

But I also learned how hard it is on the parents. I watched my family weep as we drove away in our Dodge Caravan with their two precious grandchildren to begin our adventure in Florida (which, I assured them, would probably only last two years… then I’m coming home!) And then one day I was the weeping father standing in the driveway waving as our newly-married daughter drove away with her new husband to begin seminary in Wake Forest North Carolina… 8 hours away!

And then I learned that this “leaving” was not just something the married person was to accomplish. It was something the parents had to bless, even as their hearts were being torn apart. A relationship that is new… that is ‘two becoming one’… must begin as the priority of another relationship is transitioned.

The first key to a successful marriage relationship, then, is learning to leave. Being willing to release the hands of your parents and cling to the hands of your mate.

But this word from Dad: Don’t forget to visit!

“For this cause a man will leave his father and mother….” (Genesis 2:24)

FOR REFLECTION: Take some time today or this week and call your parents, if you can, and thank them for releasing you to begin a new family.