Before getting married, it’s healthy and right to be loyal to one’s parents, siblings, and friends. But once you get married, the primary loyalty has to shift to the new spouse.
It’s not that you have to cut off relationship with your family and friends No, you still want them and need them in your life. But the spouse must become the new priority, and has to feel more important than the in-laws and others. To the extent you’re willing and able to let go of prior loyalties, you can form new ones. Likewise, to the extent that you can’t or won’t change priorities, your marriage will suffer.
While Genesis 2:24 states that it is the parents you must leave in order to form a new unity, there are others, as well. These might include a boyfriend, girlfriend, or a previous lover. In fact, there may be a number of people and situations included in what you let go of: friends, abuse, wealth, lifestyle, job, fame, high school sports, or any number of things in one’s past.
Your Past Can Ruin Today
One couple lost a son in a terrible accident. Unable to let go of that pain and loss, not knowing how to heal, and unwilling to forgive, the woman drove her husband to divorce. She allowed the past to ruin their marriage by allowing it to remain in the present. She kept the pain alive.
But it’s not just the negative that has to be left behind. Sometimes you have to let go of some positives: the good old days, a happy first marriage, that perfect job, a previous home and neighborhood, wealth or fame, or even a dream or ambition. An athlete whose playing days are over is often headed for emotional and relational disaster. A Soldier whose career comes to an end, sometimes can’t adjust to being a civilian and finding a new identity.
Someone who loses a leg or an arm in an accident at work might have a tough time accepting the new reality and letting go of the previous physical ability. Retirees sometimes struggle with letting go of their previous life, identity, and sense of importance. Empty-nesters also face a difficult struggle when the kids are gone. These transitions are tough.
Sue Augustine writes, “All of us can think of something we’d like to be set free from. For some, it’s hurtful memories, past regrets, or bitter resentment. For others it’s sorrowful remorse, frightful insecurities, or deep-rooted grudges. Imagine what it would be like to be free . . . . There is hope for you or someone you know who struggles with an imperfect or painful past.”
Her book When Your Past Is Hurting Your Present is arranged in three sections: Relinquish Your Past, Renew Your Present, and Rebuild Your Future. This is good guidance for couples who are still fighting or struggling with letting go of the past.
Bottom Line: make sure you live each day knowing that your spouse is the most important person in the world.
2 Replies to “Who’s More Important?”
Thanks for this post, Paul. The pastor who saved mine and Mindy’s marriage advocated the very same advice regarding relational priorities. During one of our sessions he placed a hand on my shoulder and said, “Husbands, love your wives.” Then, he looked me square in the eye, and said, “Brook, this isn’t a recommendation or something to consider, this is a command—an order so to speak. Mindy is your priority, period. Whatever is important to her has to be important to you. She’s your number one concern, always and forever. Do you understand what I’m saying? Because if you don’t your marriage is doomed. It will never work—ever!”
I also appreciate the part about the woman that drove her husband to divorce over the death of their son. It’s sad yet interesting because that can work in reverse. My friend’s parents were heading toward divorce, waiting for my pal to graduate from high school before pulling the plug out of respect for him. It didn’t work out that way, though. When he was killed just before graduation his parents at first separated, but it didn’t take long before the loss of their son drew them back together. I saw them several years later and they were like two newlyweds, the love in their eyes for each other was inspiring, a true testament to God’s power to heal.
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Wow! You have a lot to say about marriage, my friend! Good stuff, and powerful. Thanks for writing it here. Glad you took your pastor’s words to heart.
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