Two very important words must be in constant play in the marriage relationship to keep it vibrant and strong: leave and cleave. The purpose and objective of marriage can be summed up in these two words.
Genesis 2:24 tells us, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (NKJV). The closest relationship outside of marriage is specified here: “a man shall leave his father and mother.” So if it is necessary to leave your father and mother, then all lesser ties must be broken, changed, or left behind.
A successful marriage begins with leaving—a leaving of all other relationships. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have other relationships when you get married. You’re still a child to your parents. You’re still a sibling. But once you’re married, a new relationship and a new family emerge. That family should become your number one priority.
This means giving other relationships lesser degrees of importance. The primary responsibility of a husband is to his wife. The primary responsibility of a wife is to her husband. Yes, you still honor your parents, but there’s a leaving that must take place.
To cleave means to bring together. It suggests a determined action. There is nothing passive about the act of cleaving. It’s like scaling a mountain. You’re hanging on. You’re clinging to the side of it. That is what your marriage should look like. You are holding on to one another. You are clinging to each other. It doesn’t mean that you’re stuck together; it means that you’re sticking together.
Your most important relationship is the one with your spouse. First, you leave. Then you cleave. And if you don’t do this, it will be detrimental to your marriage.