James and Cindy have been married for about a year now and some problems are beginning to emerge. Everything was great during their courtship. Sure, they had their share of scuffles, but they were so excited to be in love that nothing was too big of a deal. Their wedding went off without a hitch and they thoroughly enjoyed their honeymoon.

As the couple began to settle into their new marriage each became a little more comfortable in the relationship, and with that, the rough edges on their individual personalities became more visible. One problem became apparent in the midst of trying circumstances. Cindy would turn to her mother for emotional support. Also, when something was wrong around the house, she would enlist the help of her father, fearing that James’ inexperience in fixing things would only exasperate the problem.

Holidays were an especially tense time for James and Cindy. Their families placed harsh demands on their time. Each wanted the couple present to celebrate the festivities. James and Cindy would often argue about whose family would receive the lion’s share of their time. The car rides to and from their families houses were often tense, biting comments were not uncommon.

This couple has a cleavage problem. It is all too common in marriages, especially new marriages or when the first child arrives. If it goes unattended, sometimes the cleavage problem will persist for years. Genesis 2:24 states, “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

James and Cindy have one foot in their marriage and the other in their families of origin. While they have been joined together, they haven’t drawn a boundary around the two of them. They are going outside the marital circle for support, influence, and help. They are allowing their families to make decisions about what is best for them.

There are a number of reasons as to why some couples do not “leave and cleave.” Sometimes, it is pure naiveté. They are not even aware that they are not turning to their spouse for support or influence. Sometimes it is due to a simple inability to say no. One might worry about hurting their parents feelings if they do not cater to their demands. The problem is, by not setting boundaries and saying no, the individual hurts their relationship. Other times, one will seek support, help, or guidance outside the relationship when their partner does not provide it. When a man does not act with integrity and lead his family, then often the wife will feel the need to go to her parents for support.

Sometimes the problem rests more with the couple’s parents than with the couple. They place harsh demands on the couple or feel they are more qualified to meet their child’s needs than the new spouse. Still, it is the couple’s job to help the parents understand that the dynamics have changed. So if you are a parent and this sounds like you, why not help make it easy on your kids?

Cleaving means that your spouse comes first. It means your parents are no longer your greatest priority (they are still a very important part of your life, but after your spouse). It means you and your spouse are responsible for your own lives. Sometimes, it means saying no to people that you love because your marriage is your greatest and most important relationship.

Feel that there is a lack of cleavage in your relationship? Then maybe it is time to have a discussion, to set some boundaries, and to make sure you are performing your role and duty as a spouse. When there is a lack of cleavage in a marriage, problems will always be in tow. So cut the psychological and emotional apron strings. Lean on your spouse for support.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.