*Editor’s Note: Written in response to their highly controversial article (read by over 3 million people), 10 ways you are being unfaithful to your spouse – and you don’t even know it.
Devotion to your spouse is vital to the success of any marriage. In the Bible the apostle Paul was teaching the people about marriage and the duties of husbands and wives when he said, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh… . Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband (Ephesians 5:31-33).”
In order for marriage to flourish both husband and wife need to leave their parents and start a new home together. From that moment they need to be number one in each other’s life. That doesn’t mean they don’t love and care about their parents. It simply means that the top priority has now changed from parents to spouse.
Here are a few reasons why this is so important
1. It shows honor and respect for your spouse
When your husband or wife knows he or she comes before your parents, it creates a deeper marital bond. If a wife continually runs to her parents for counsel instead of first talking with her husband, it can create a feeling of distrust. The same with a husband. When you talk together as a couple about your problems and seek answers in a united way, it strengthens your marriage. Parents can be consulted, but it’s best done with both of you present, not going behind each other’s back. That doesn’t mean there won’t be times when one-on-one time with a parent is needed. It just means that running to a parent is not your first or usual response.
2. It shows your spouse and your parents that your marriage is solid
If one or the other keeps running home to Mom or Dad, complaining about his or her spouse, it can be damaging to your marriage. A mother of a young married daughter told about how her daughter was continually telling them bad things about her husband – nothing big, just annoying things like he doesn’t pick up his clothes, he watches too much TV, or a myriad of other nit-picky traits. When this happens the parents can’t help but feel like you married a loser, even though there are wonderful things about him that you love. If they have a skewed view of your mate due to your continual barrage of negatives, they may not give you proper counsel, even may encourage you to leave him. Unless there’s abuse, that would be disastrous. When you put your spouse first, your parents and your spouse will recognize how important your marriage is to you.
3. It creates a stronger intimacy with your spouse
When your focus is on your mate then each other’s needs can be met. There is a bond of devotion where deep sharing of thoughts and experiences kindle a love that can be experienced no other way. This kind of intimacy opens the door to a more romantic relationship. If you don’t feel like you’re number one, genuine intimacy is hard to achieve. Allowing your parents to have that number one spot can put a damper on your relationship. A woman told us about how her mother-in-law called her son every night at bedtime. She said, “Just when we finally have some alone time after the kids are in bed the phone rings, and it’s her. The other night we were snuggling on the couch enjoying each other when it rang. We knew who it was. My husband always feels obligated to take the call. It’s taking a toll on the intimate side of our marriage.” This couple solved the problem by the husband telling his mother this was not a good time to call. They then set a time that worked better for all concerned. Most parents want their kids to have a happy marriage and will respond to such requests. Taking this action helped his wife realize how important she was to him. Setting boundaries with parents in a kind and loving way is important. Keeping close to parents matters, and it can be done without jeopardizing your marriage.
4. When things get tough you can count on each other
When you’ve kept each other at the top of the list, there will be no question about loyalty to and from your spouse. A couple told of a time the husband lost his business. He said, “My wife was by my side the whole time, cheering me on, right up to the bitter end when the business collapsed. I knew that even if my parents or others criticized me for taking this risk, she would stick up for me.” No one chooses to fail, but if it happens it is comforting to know your spouse is right there to buoy you up. That goes for other kinds of challenges, as well. When you have kept each other as a priority, you’ll be there for each other through the hard times. Your spouse is your greatest support system. Parental love and support is nice to have, but in the end it is your spouse who is by your side daily.
5. When your parents reach the end of their lives, having your spouse by your side will be very comforting.
Keeping the relationship strong with your mate can make all heartaches a little more bearable, particularly this one. If you have been respectful and loving to your parents, all the while keeping your mate as your priority, your memories will be sweeter and your marriage will be stronger.
In all of this, don’t push your parents away. Include them in ways that work for you and your spouse. A loving relationship with parents can be very helpful in keeping your family strong. You and your spouse can build that relationship while keeping each other as your main priority.
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