For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh. –Genesis 2:24
In the King James English the phrase “Be joined to his wife” is translated: “and shall cleave unto his wife.”
From this wording we have a teaching that has been called the “Leaving & Cleaving” principle.
The first part of the principle, is the idea that in marriage, you must leave your father and mother. Father and mother, are typical of the primary relationships in most human lives. I do not think that the scripture here is limiting the leaving to just father and mother, but it is an indication that really every other human relationship becomes secondary to the primary relationship of the married couple.
The second part of the principle, is cleaving, or being joined. A married couple needs to hang on to one another with everything they have.
From this idea has been born the “Inner Circle” teaching.
With the Inner Circle concept, you have a series of concentric circles representing different people groups in your life. On the outside circle you have acquaintances, these would be more temporary friends, co-workers, and perhaps neighbors. Next you have parents, relatives, & close friends. Inside that, you have children and grandchildren, and finally, in the inside circle you have the married couple.
What we find, is that each one of the outside groups will on occasion, try to make their way into this primary inner circle marriage relationship.
Sometimes a married person with unwittingly invite someone in without realizing it. People can share intimate details about their marriage that really no one else needs to, or should know, thus inviting a third party into that inner circle. Years ago, my wife attended a gathering of women from our church, and came home and reported to me that some of the women were “sharing” intimate details about their married sex life. This kind of chatter is a violation of the marriage bed and a definite inner circle violation. I have even heard of Pastors that have shared publicly, details about their intimate life, that know one but God should know.
Apart from some kind of legitimate counseling, no one has should know these kinds of intimate details about marriage. Sometimes this kind of “sharing” can happen on the job, and even with a confidant of the opposite sex. Satan has used many a “listening ear” to bring down a multitude of marriages.
Most of the time however, the intrusion is not invited, but imposed. Parents and relatives will, at times, seek to influence the marriage in some way or another, and this is only exacerbated when (their) grandchildren are involved. At times, in-laws will be critical of a spouse, or un-approving of the course, or management of their children’s household. These opinions, perhaps even valid ones, must be carefully guarded against, as they can undermine the authority of the husband, humiliate a spouse, and interfere in a relationship where they do not belong.
Of, course there are times when outside assistance is necessary to give advice and counsel, but this should be invited responsibly.
Children as well will seek to divide and conquer this inner circle. Every child seems to intuitively know the weaknesses of their parents, and how to play “two ends against the middle.” Parents need to guard against this, and never let their children come between them. Kid’s need to know they are loved, but are not in the primary inner circle. They will eventually leave, they are not part of the marriage relationship.
A healthy married couple needs to be careful to guard their relationship at all costs.
When you get married, you are a team, a partnership, and the only other partner is God, this is His plan for marriage.
Leave, (all others) and cleave (to one another, and none other).