Navigating the leave and cleave process of our adult children marrying

Written byTina Akridge

Definition of position;  “a place where something or someone has been put, a particular way in which someone or something is arranged.” (Oxford) 

Both of my sons have gotten married within the last ten days. And my position has been a topic to ponder during this unique journey.

From where to stand during rehearsal to where I stand in their lives, it’s a lot to navigate!  But throughout this process, I have found that understanding my position in my adult children’s lives is so important. And it all comes down to realizing my identity. 

Leaving and Cleaving 

The concept of ‘leave and cleave’, a biblical charge for all who enter into a marriage, is crucial to understanding proper placement within your relationships with your adult children. 

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and the two shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 NIV).

And in order to truly grasp this concept, it’s crucial to understand where our identity is defined. God is the one who has both positioned and arranged us and that makes all the difference in the midst of this unique transition.

Watching both of my sons enter into the most important and influential relationship, only second to their relationship with Christ, has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. From the time each child was being formed in my womb, Mark and I prayed for and celebrated future daughters-in-law. We asked God to show each one clearly whom he had prepared for them to marry if he had marriage in store for them. We relished the idea of gaining more daughters to love as they entered our lives as brides of our sons. 

And then… that day came! For both of them. Within about a ten-day period. 

Phew! Can I say, we packed a lot of loving, traveling, and celebrating into those ten days! I cherished each son’s individuality. The way they announced to the family, planned their wedding, and communicated with their future brides was unique. And I treasured how they involved me in different ways. 

Understanding your identity

My position with each son was shifting, and that was ok. Yet, as with all new chapters, it was also a bit scary to navigate. It’s important to note that my identity was not changing. That is something God has determined and, like him, it never changes. Yet I found myself getting caught up in the emotions of the events, relying on my feelings rather than standing on the truth. I was struggling to not get lost in this “leave and cleave” process. Ordained by my Abba Father, I knew the process of leaving your parents and becoming united with your spouse was good in theory. Yet it felt like I was losing my sons only shortly after losing my husband, the one with whom I celebrated decades ago. 

The mingling of celebration and grief collided within my spirit. Until I remembered something. It was a foundational truth I needed to walk through this change with my sons in a biblical and healthy way. It was the truth about  my identity. Staying rooted in God’s holy word became my security when things around me were rapidly changing. 

You see, fifty-one years ago, I was put into a loving family and arranged in birth order, by God, as the last child of my parents. At age fourteen, I was adopted into a new spiritual family and was rearranged into God’s family. He positioned me to be His treasure and the apple of his eye (Psalms 17:8; Zechariah 2:8).

This is my position and my identity. It has been my whole life. 

I am a child of the most high King. God himself ordained this! He put me into my earthly family and called me into his heavenly family. Because of the redemptive work Jesus accomplished on the cross, God has seated me in the heavenly places with him. “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly places…” (Ephesians 2:6). 

That is who I am. That is my position in life.

Truths to remember

So there I stood, without Mark, letting go of my sons and giving them to these beautiful women, to love and cherish as their own. In this vulnerable moment, Abba Father softly reminded me of a few truths:

• This is his good and perfect will for each of my sons

“He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22).

• My sons were never my husband.

The role my sons have played in my life has always been a treasure from God. His word tells us that “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3 NLT). As I let go of responsibility and most of the daily influence, these women are not replacing me because they aren’t becoming a mom. Rather, they are becoming a wife. 

• My role as a mom remains, as God intended. 

This role does look different in respect to the priority I held in the past. My sons are now charged by God to make their marriages a priority, in time and talents. Paul makes this clear for us when he says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25a).

Your new position 

I still hold the position of ‘mom’, but I gain two women to love as daughters. 

Each of my sons gains a loyal, committed, loving wife, all by God’s great grace and generosity.

This concept may seem obvious to some and foreign to others, but it is explained to us clearly in his word. It’s our responsibility within this godly process of leaving and cleaving to clarify our position with our adult children. If marriage is in our children’s future, we need to press into his word and understand where he has arranged and positioned us.

We are His children. That is the foundation of our own identity. The bride and groom shift their priorities to each other and we focus on what we gain. There is no loss here, as we were never meant to hold that place in their lives. We were called by God to be a parent. 

That remains in the leave and cleave process. 

Learning to celebrate

Walking in this truth, we can let go and receive the blessing of celebrating our adult children as they carry out their new roles as husband and wife biblically. These truths allow us to celebrate this beautiful union because our position and arrangement in life are centered on God, not our children. This is His will for all families. 

So moms, God has graciously given you guidelines that preserve His plan for marriage, bring profound blessings to your children and their new spouses, and secure you in his truth. You are free to celebrate God’s perfect plan!

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