Is it important or better or even essential for me to move out after marriage?
To answer this question, we must go to the most fundamental statement made by God regarding marriage. Immediately after bringing Eve to Adam and instituting marriage, God makes a foundational statement. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). This is a command which establishes the “one-flesh” principle of marriage: leaving father and mother and cleaving to each other—the result of which is the two becoming “one flesh”.
Interestingly, God introduced this principle to Adam and Eve, even though neither one had a father or mother to leave. Therefore, it follows that this principle is to be taken as one that generally applies to the institution of marriage. This point is further established by its repetition by Jesus (Matthew 19:5-6) and Paul (Ephesians 5:31). The Scriptures clearly emphasise leaving, cleaving, and becoming one flesh as an important principle of marriage.
The word “leave”, in this context, means to loosen the reins, or to depart, or to abandon—or give up completely. From birth, a child naturally grows up with a strong emotional attachment and dependence on the parents. In the early years of life, the parents are entirely in control of all a child does. Over time, as the child grows, the level of control tends to get loosened or take different forms.
However, when God says that at the time of marriage one must “leave… father and mother”, He is saying there has been a break, a leaving in every sense—physically, emotionally, financially. Anything that causes undue dependence on the parents or gives them a level of control over the lives of children post-marriage would not be conducive to achieving the God-given goals for marriage.
The word “cleave” has the following meanings: to pursue after, become joined together, keep fast together—i.e., a sense of two objects being glued together). A husband and wife must come together in every respect and remain together. This cleaving should result in a stronger bond over time. And so, anything that hinders it must be removed.
The Scriptures clearly emphasise leaving, cleaving, and becoming one flesh as an important principle of marriage
Becoming “one flesh” is the third element in the principle. It indicates the creation of a new, independent, and unique family unit. “One flesh” goes beyond the sexual union to the physical, emotional, and spiritual sense of the term. The allegiances and priorities of a husband and wife are to each other, not others.
There is also an implied sequence here. It starts with leaving, which enables cleaving. When the leaving and the cleaving happen, the end result is that the husband and wife become one flesh. If there is no leaving and no cleaving, the result will not be one flesh.
The answer to the question becomes obvious in light of this very important principle. Continuing to live with your parents after marriage will almost always be a hindrance to obeying the command in Genesis 2. Working through the process of cleaving to each other requires independence and privacy which are almost impossible if a couple is living with either of their parents.
I would also note that, while living separately from the parents is necessary, it may not always be sufficient. I have come across situations where, although living elsewhere, parents maintain control over their married child—or the married child remains emotionally dependent on and under the control of the parents. Parents can, though meaning well, exert control over a marriage from afar. One way this often happens is by parents excessively providing for the financial needs of their married children. This practice creates an implied sense of obligation that does not allow the development of independence. So the principle of leaving may not be satisfied by just living separately. It must happen in every aspect, especially emotionally and financially.
Having had to counsel people in difficult marriages, I can say from experience that problems in marriages are frequently caused by one or both persons in a marriage not truly leaving their parents in the way described above. So, if you truly want to obey God, it is not just important or better, but essential that you move out and establish your identity as a separate family.
What I have stated above is a general principle that should be the norm. Certainly, there may be exceptional situations, such as elderly parents who cannot care for themselves. Such a scenario requires deviation from the norm. As with all such principles, one must not be legalistic in its application, but look at all factors and prayerfully arrive at a decision that honours the Lord.
In cases where you have to live with your parents, be aware of the challenges. Make an extra effort to ensure that the situation does not interfere with your independence and unity with your spouse.
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