When I was still a newlywed, we had a huge problem with a really pesky neighbor and it was very frustrating. Totally at my wits-end I telephoned my father and asked him what to do. We had a discussion, I don’t remember the exact words (it’s been a lot of years) — after hearing me out, my frustration and my crying, Daddy told me that he would always be happy to help me out BUT had I told my husband my feelings? I answered something like “Not really”.
Daddy didn’t renege on his offer to help me IF I STILL WANTED IT AFTER HIS ADVICE. The main thing my father stressed was that I was a married woman, an adult, who was married to a grown man; we were two adults who made a commitment to each other. While your parents would always be your parents and always care about you and do whatever they could to make your life easier, a married woman OR man should always be a team with her/his spouse. In other words, even if I had been the one to call my dad, I should have been speaking for the two of us.
I’m pretty sure that we have all heard the phrase “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) or “no one was ever intended to come between a husband and a wife” (Matthew 19:6). [Nowadays this should refer to ALL married couples, not just the husband/wife variety] What do these two phrases mean, what did my dad mean about my discussing things with my husband and we should basically speak as one?
When we marry, both sides of the couple, are making the promise to leave the shelter and dependence of our parents and be able to rely and support each other. We need to turn to our spouses first before running to Mommy and Daddy. Our circle as a married couple means that we are the primary relationship and we each need to see each other as our priority, Being a couple should be the MOST IMPORTANT bond. Dependence and dependability on each other not only fosters trust and respect, it also makes a formidable unit which can withstand opposition.
This primary relationship needs to be recognized by more than just the partners but also by the people around them. Parents need to recognize and respect their child’s spouse and need to understand that they should never, ever attempt to get in between that bond. As parents we want to always be there for our children no matter how old they are, we have a need to want to fix things for them, and of course we only want what is best for them even when what we think is best is not what they want.
The time for raising our children and teaching them responsibility should have been going on through all of their adolescent and teen years. By the time our children reach adulthood and enter into a committed relationship, hopefully we have provided them with enough foundation to actually be able to think and do for themselves. And parents can give themselves a pat on the back when their job has been well done and offspring can actually deal with real life. While we will always want to step in, we MUST respect and trust our adult children and that includes respecting and trusting the person he/she chose as a lifelong partner; you can’t truly respect one unless you respect the other.
Parents who nurture an unhealthy relationship are only damaging many lives: If you don’t raise and allow your offspring to act like grown-ups, one day may come when they have to think for themselves and make decisions and the parents may no longer be around; parents who think they need to control their grown child will cause self-doubt, lack of trust for one another and a dependency that may at some point become too heavy a burden for the aging adult; and parents who are constantly intervening in their son or daughter’s relationship run the risk of seriously damaging the bond and creating not only sadness for their child but also resentment against the parents. In an ideal world grown children and parents can have wonderful relationships and can be there for each other when needed but the respect has to go both ways INCLUDING the in-law child.
My dad passed away shortly after our first wedding anniversary and my mom just a year later – ever since those valuable words my dad said to me during that phone call I've turned to my husband (and he has turned to me) and we have always been there for each other. It’s been more than 40 years and my husband and I are still best friends, confidents, support, and the genuine other half — and I owe it all to the fact that my dad recognized that a married couple, even his daughter and her husband, should be the strongest bond and what hath been “joined together, let no man put asunder”.