Getting married is one of the most exciting yet challenging transitions in life. As you leave your parents and cleave to your spouse, you may wonder what guidance the Bible offers about this new phase.
The Bible has plenty to say about the sanctity of marriage and contains timeless wisdom to help navigate the shift from depending on your parents to relying on your spouse.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The Bible encourages married couples to unite as one flesh and leave their parents to start a new family together. Key verses emphasize the importance of the marital bond over all other human relationships.
Cleaving to Your Spouse
Genesis 2:24 – United as One Flesh
Genesis 2:24 states “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” This foundational verse establishes that in marriage, a husband and wife are to leave their parents and unite together as one flesh in body, spirit, and soul.
Their primary familial allegiance becomes their spouse rather than their parents. This break from dependence on parents enables the married couple to fully devote themselves to each other and become one unit.
Though the verse specifically addresses the husband leaving his parents, the principle applies to both spouses. Marriage counselor Dr. John Gottman explains, “Forming a healthy bond with your spouse requires letting go of some emotional dependency on your parents to truly ‘cleave’ to each other.
This makes room for the marriage to flourish independently. “ Remaining overly tied to parents can strain the marital relationship. The marriage commitment takes priority.
Matthew 19:5 – No Longer Two but One
Echoing Genesis 2:24, Christ says in Matthew 19:5, “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” Here Jesus emphasizes that in leaving parents and cleaving to a spouse, the two are united into “one flesh.”
They are no longer two separate people but have formed one new entity through marriage.
Respected preacher Charles Stanley elaborates, “God designed marriage to be the blending of two lives into one new life together. By leaving parents and starting fresh, couples break old ties in order to form this new oneness. Married couples have a clean slate to build lasting intimacy.”
Stanley’s ministry offers resources for married couples on deepening intimacy and the one flesh union.
Ephesians 5:31 – United in Marriage
The apostle Paul also quotes Genesis 2:24 in Ephesians 5:31, affirming, “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.'” For Paul, this verse profoundly sums up God’s intent for marriage: that a husband and wife leave their individual families and unite as one family.
Paul goes on to parallel this verse with Christ and the church in the next verse: “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). Biblical commentator Matthew Henry thus explains that “As Christ and his bride the church become one, so do husband and wife.
This is a profound part of God’s wise design for marriage.”
The scriptures unequivocally state that in marriage, one’s spouse takes priority over parents. Bonds must be broken and reformed in marriage for the full one flesh union God desires between husband and wife.
Leaving Father and Mother
According to the Bible, when a man and woman get married, they are called to leave their parents and cleave to each other. This teaching is rooted in Genesis 2:24 which says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
Let’s explore what the Bible says about leaving parents after getting married.
Genesis 2:24 – Leave Parents
Genesis 2:24 provides the basis for God’s design for marriage. When a man and woman join in marriage, they are called to leave their father and mother and start a new family unit together. This doesn’t mean abandoning parents altogether, but it does imply a shift in priorities and allegiance.
Marriage requires a certain level of independence from parents to truly cleave to one’s spouse.
Proverbs 18:22 – Finding a Spouse
Proverbs 18:22 states, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” When seeking a spouse, it is wise to look for a partner who shares common values and faith. A good spouse is a blessing from God.
Still, the commitment to one’s marriage takes priority even over the bond with parents according to Genesis 2:24.
Matthew 19:5 – Joined to Your Spouse
In Matthew 19, Jesus reaffirms God’s plan for marriage as described in Genesis 2:24, saying “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” He emphasizes that in marriage, a couple is joined together and united as one.
This new union must be a priority.
Prioritizing Your Marriage
Ephesians 5:31 – Leave and Cleave
The Bible teaches that when a man and woman are joined in marriage, they become “one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31). This union is so sacred and intimate that it even supersedes the relationship between parents and children.
For this reason, Genesis 2:24 instructs a married couple to “leave” their parents and “cleave” to each other. This means that the marital relationship should be prioritized over all other earthly relationships, including with parents.
While parents should always be honored (Exodus 20:12), a husband’s loyalty and duty is first to his wife, and the wife’s is to her husband (1 Corinthians 7:33-34). Married couples must set healthy boundaries with parents and not allow them to interfere in their marriage.
The parental relationship changes when a child gets married, and this change requires adjustment for all parties involved.
1 Corinthians 7:34 – Focus on Spouse
1 Corinthians 7:34 further emphasizes the importance of prioritizing one’s spouse: “An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.
But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.”
According to this verse, a married woman’s focus and devotion is to be directed toward her husband, while those who are unmarried can devote themselves fully to the Lord and ministry. This principle applies to both husbands and wives – marriage requires an attentiveness and intentionality to invest in the relationship.
This doesn’t mean neglecting one’s relationship with God, but it does require making your spouse a priority. Date nights, quality time, healthy communication, and intimacy are essential for nurturing oneness in marriage. Parents and extended family should support these efforts.
Proverbs 21:9 – Choosing Spouse Over Parents
Proverbs 21:9 offers additional marital advice: “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” This proverb emphasizes the importance of cultivating a healthy marriage relationship.
Even if it means distancing yourself from parents or familial comforts, work through conflicts and choose to love your spouse through difficult seasons. Leaving home to cleave to your spouse may require emotional, physical or financial sacrifice, but these are necessary parts of prioritizing marriage.
Have awkward but necessary conversations with parents about boundaries, visit them less often if needed, or even move to a different home if space or privacy from parents is required. This honors the Scriptural command to leave home and cleave to your spouse.
Honoring Parents After Marriage
Exodus 20:12 – Honor Parents
The fifth of the Ten Commandments given by God instructs us to “honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). This commandment comes with a promise – if we honor our parents, we will live long lives.
This principle applies even after we are grown and married. Honoring our parents does not end when we leave home.
Honoring our parents when we are adults means showing them respect, being considerate of their needs as they age, and seeking their wisdom and guidance even as independent adults. We should make time to visit them regularly, call them, help provide care when needed, and value their life experiences.
Ephesians 6:2-3 – Respect Parents
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2-3).
The command to honor parents is repeated in the New Testament. Adult children must continue to respect and value their parents. This means being patient with them, gently caring for them in their older years, and not taking advantage of them.
Speaking respectfully, making smart decisions, and being responsible moral adults brings honor to parents. Living a righteous life is one way to honor parents even after leaving home.
1 Timothy 5:4 – Care for Parents
“But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God” (1 Timothy 5:4).
Caring for elderly parents is pleasing to God. Adult children have a responsibility to provide for the needs of their aging parents, whether that means having them live with them, paying for care, or frequently checking in on them.
Parents cared for us as children, so we honor God when we return the gift of care as they grow older. This includes meeting their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
The Bible offers clear guidance about leaving your parents and prioritizing your marriage above all other earthly ties. While we must continue honoring our parents even after marriage, Scripture emphasizes that the marital union takes precedence once we wed. As you cleave to your spouse and become one flesh, trust that God will bless and sustain you in this new chapter as you follow His word.